I managed to get myself a behind-the-scenes tour of Birmingham New Street station. It is currently undergoing a major transformation due to complete in 2015 that will see a new concourse built and a new shopping centre (called Grand Central) above it.
In April 2013 (actual date to be announced later in March 2013) the old concourse will shut and half of the new concourse will open allowing the other half of the new concourse to be built. The whole of the new concourse will then eventually open some time in 2015.
So, this new half-concourse is what I got a tour of. Pictures are below and I’ve put some notes with them to try to give you a sense of the layout.
My tour was by their comms person who is former BBC journalist Sue Beardsmore. Thanks to Nick Booth for suggesting I might be a useful person to take round.
Some points I noted as I went round (apologies for any inaccuracies):
- Until the whole of the new concourse opens in 2015 you won’t be able to access the station from the Bullring side. You will go down a new alleyway at the back of the Odeon cinema and emerge on Stephenson street where the new entrance is.
- There will be an exit during switchover on Hill street (and when John Lewis is finished in 2015, a much grander exit in that place).
- Every platform will have escalators and lifts (platform one will just have lift and stairs during the switchover period).
- The new car and taxi drop runs alongside the new concourse with a short stay car park above it. It’s actually in a section that was the old Pallasades carpark. You enter on Hill street, drive along a covered roadway and exit on Navigation street (where Taxi pick-up will be).
- The new concourse has a ticket side and a non-ticket side. Much the same way it’s set up now.
- Everything feels bigger. I think that’s because the ticket/non-ticket sides use the full width of the station whereas currently only the ticket side stretches all the way down.
- There were lots of people working there. So even though the pics seem to suggest there’s a long way to go it did seem that there were enough people on site to make the switchover date happen as planned in April.
- Once the new half concourse is open there seems to be a ton of concrete to take out of the old one. You can see why it’ll take another two years.
- Part of the old concourse will remain open as otherise there wouldn’t be a second exit from platforms. The old ladies toilet will still be in use for a while. The gents will get a refurb.
- The route from the ramp (you know, the one with MacDonalds on it) to the Bullring bridge will stay open, as will those shops. However, from switchover day the escalators down to the station will be closed and there will be a longish corridor route down to the new concourse.
- See also the info at: http://www.newstreetnewstart.co.uk/
Feel free to re-use the pics as you wish. You can download the hi-res versions and the licence is set to Creative Commons (link to set). I’ve added more detail in the notes below the pics.