Birmingham New Street railway station

Birmingham New Street railway station
Birmingham New Street National Rail
Birmingham New Street
The west end of the station
Place New Street, Birmingham, England
Local authority Birmingham City Council
Coordinates 52°28′40″N 1°53′56″W / 52.47777°N 1.89885°W / 52.47777; -1.89885Coordinates: 52°28′40″N 1°53′56″W / 52.47777°N 1.89885°W / 52.47777; -1.89885
Grid reference SP069866
Station code BHM
Managed by Network Rail
Number of platforms 13
Live arrivals/departures and station information
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage
2004/05 * increase 16.244 million
2005/06 * increase 17.303 million
2006/07 * decrease 14.525 million
2007/08 * increase 17.007 million
2008/09 * increase 25.192 million
2009/10 * increase 25.268 million
Passenger Transport Executive
PTE West Midlands
Zone 1
1854 First opened
1964 Queen's Hotel closed and demolished
1964 Power signal box built
1967 Rebuilt
National Rail - UK railway stations
* Annual passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Birmingham New Street from Office of Rail Regulation statistics. Please note: methodology may vary year on year.
Portal icon UK Railways portal

Birmingham New Street is the main railway station serving Birmingham, England, located in the city centre. It is an important hub for the British railway system, being served by a number of important long-distance and cross-country lines, including the Birmingham loop of the West Coast Main Line, the Cross Country Route, and the Birmingham to Peterborough Line. It is also a major hub for local and suburban services in the West Midlands, including those on the Cross City Line between Lichfield and Redditch.

New Street is the busiest railway station in the United Kingdom outside London and sixth-busiest station in the UK for interchange purposes.[1][2] According to Network Rail, which manages the station, over 40.1 million people use it annually, 87% of whom are passengers.[2] With almost 4 million passengers changing trains at the station annually, it is also by far the busiest rail hub outside London.[3]

The original New Street station was built in the Victorian era. This was demolished and replaced by the current station in the 1960s. An enclosed station, with buildings over most of its span, New Street is not popular with its users, with a customer satisfaction rate of only 52% - the joint lowest of any Network Rail major station.[4] A £550m redevelopment scheme named Gateway Plus was awarded full funding by the British government in February 2008, and new designs were unveiled in September 2008. Work started on the redevelopment a year later.[5]

Birmingham is also served by Birmingham Moor Street and Birmingham Snow Hill. On the outskirts, closer to Solihull, is Birmingham International, which serves the airport and National Exhibition Centre.

The station is allocated the IATA location identifier QQN.



The first railway station

New Street station in 1885
A view of the original New Street from the early 20th century, showing the LNWR and Midland stations side by side, with Great Queen Street between them
The entrance to the old station with Queen's Hotel in 1962

New Street station was built as a joint station by the London and North Western Railway and the Midland Railway between 1846 and 1854 to replace several earlier unconnected rail termini, most notably Curzon Street.

It opened in 1851 as a temporary terminus of the London and Birmingham Railway.[6] The station was constructed by Messrs. Fox, Henderson & Co. and designed by A. E. Coowper of that firm. When completed, it had the largest iron and glass roof in the world, spanning a width of 212 feet (65 m) and being 840 feet (256 m) long.[7] It held this title for 14 years. It was formally opened on 1 June 1854,[7] although it had already been in use for two years. The Queen's Hotel was opened on the same day[7] and its telegraphic address became "Besthotel Birmingham".

Midland railway trains that had used Curzon Street began to use New Street from 1854. However, those going south towards Bristol would have to reverse, so many continued through Camp Hill. Increasing congestion meant that the Midland spent £500,000 on enlargements, which included a second train shed to the south of Great Queen Street, which became a central carriageway. Queen's Drive was lost in the rebuilding of the 1960s, but the name is now carried by a new driveway which serves the car park and a tower block, and is the access route for the station's taxis.

Some through trains to the southwest began in 1885, with a new underpass from Derby Junction to Grand Junction, independent of the LNWR, and a new south tunnel in 1896.[8] The new Midland Railway station opened alongside the original LNWR station on 8 February 1885.[7] This station consisted of two trussed arches, 58 feet (18 m) wide by 620 feet (189 m) long, and 67 feet 6 inches (21 m) wide by 600 feet (183 m) long. It was designed by F. Stevenson, Chief Engineer to the LNWR.[7] By the end of the 19th century, New Street had become one of the busiest railway stations in the country.

In 1923, the LNWR and Midland Railway, with others, were grouped into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) by the Railways Act 1921. In 1948, the railways were nationalised and came under the control of British Railways.

The roof of the original station sustained heavy damage as a result of enemy bombing in the Birmingham Blitz of World War II, and was demolished between 1948 and 1952.[9][10]

The current railway station

New Street station under reconstruction in 1965
A train waiting at Platform 2 at New Street

The station was rebuilt in the 1960s as part of the West Coast Main Line modernisation programme. In 1964, demolition of the original New Street station and Queen's Hotel began and was not completed until 1966.[11] The new New Street station was finished in 1967.

The rebuilt station was designed by Kenneth J. Davies, lead planner for the London Midland Region at British Rail.[12] The new station had sold its air rights, leading to the construction of the Pallasades Shopping Centre (then known as the Birmingham Shopping Centre)[13] between 1968 and 1970.[12] Also above the station is a nine-storey office block designed by Cotton, Ballard & Blow, who also designed the Exchange Place building overlooking the ramp from New Street leading into the Pallasades Shopping Centre.[12] On top of the station is a car park. The station and the Pallasades are now partly integrated with the Bullring Shopping Centre via elevated walkways above Smallbrook Queensway. Alongside the station, a residential 20-storeys tower block, Stephenson Tower, was built between 1965 and 1966, designed by the City Architect of Birmingham. The tower is on a long lease and administered by Birmingham City Council, but Network Rail owns the freehold.[14]

Birmingham New Street from the west

Currently, New Street handles about 80% of passengers travelling to, from or through Birmingham.[15]

Three escalators currently provide access to the Pallasades Shopping Centre, and two lifts provide access to a subway underneath the platforms. The subway has lifts for access to the 'A' end of all platforms. There are escalators from the concourse down to the 'B' end of each platform (except platforms 1 and 12). All 12 main platforms, except platform 4c, are through platforms. This results in most platform changes, and access to the concourse, requiring use of the escalators, stairs, or lifts. The main platforms are all long enough to accommodate two relatively short trains.

New Street does not have automatic ticket barriers. Instead, station staff inspect tickets at peak times, while at off-peak times there is often no ticket checking. Birmingham New Street hosts a British Transport Police station. Since summer 2001, the distinctive automated announcements have been provided by voice artist Phil Sayer, and delivered by a computerised service provided by Ditra Systems.[16]

In 1987, twelve different horse sculptures by Kevin Atherton, titled Iron Horse, were erected between New Street station and Wolverhampton. One stands on a platform at New Street.[17]

Disabled access

Passengers generally get to platforms using stairs and passengers leave platforms using escalators or stairs. Some lifts are available for disabled people.

New Street signal box

New Street signal box

The power signal box at New Street was completed in 1964.[7] The signal box is a brutalist building with corrugated concrete architecture, designed by Bicknell & Hamilton in collaboration with W. R. Healey, the regional architect for British Railways London Midland Region.[18] The four-storey structure is at the side of the tracks connected to Navigation Street. It is now a Grade II listed building.[19][20]


A birds eye view of the approved redevelopment

New Street has been described as one of the most run-down and unwelcoming of major British railway stations. Some of this can be blamed on the sub-surface nature of the station and the 1960s architecture, but that it is built below the dated Pallasades shopping arcade also contributes to New Street's perceived negative ambience. In November 2003 it was voted the second biggest "eyesore" in the UK by readers of Country Life magazine.[21] New Street was voted joint worst station for customer satisfaction with Liverpool Lime Street and East Croydon, with only 52% satisfied; the national average was 60%.[4]

A feasibility study into the redevelopment of the station site was approved in January 2005. A regeneration scheme was launched in 2006.[22] Since then, the scheme has taken various forms, and various names, such as Birmingham Gateway, Gateway Plus, and New Street Gateway. This proposed complete rebuilding of the street-level buildings and refurbishment of the platforms, with track and platform level remaining essentially unchanged. A target date given for completion was 2013.

The old 1960s interior design will be rationalised and revamped in the Gateway Plus project.

In February 2008, the then Secretary of State for Transport, Ruth Kelly, announced that the Department for Transport would provide £160 million on top of the £128 million that is to be provided through the government White Paper Delivering a Sustainable Railway.[23] A further £100 million would be provided by the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and channelled through Advantage West Midlands, the regional development agency. The announcement brought total government spending on the project to £388 million.[24] After earlier proposals were discarded, six architects were shortlisted to design the new station following a call for submissions,[25] and it was announced in September 2008 that the design by Foreign Office Architects had been chosen.[26]

The fact that the Gateway development leaves the railway capacity of the station more or less unaltered has not escaped attention. In July 2008 the House of Commons Transport Committee criticised the plans: it was not convinced they were adequate for the number of trains which could end up using the station. It said if the station could not be adapted, the government needed to look for alternative solutions.[27] Designs were shown to the public in February 2006 for a new Birmingham New Street Station in a project known as Gateway Plus.[28] The plans featured a foyer of open space with a multi-storey entrance. The roof would be made completely of glass to allow natural light to enter the entrance hall. The façade would have rounded edges and the Pallasades Shopping Centre above the station would remain.

Various alternatives to the Gateway schemes have been put forward, including building a new main station on a different site, and diverting trains to Snow Hill and Moor Street stations (the latter of which would mean either restoration of Moor Street's bay platforms or a reduction in services). One such scheme is Birmingham Grand Central Station, proposed by Arup.

The approved planning application submitted to the council in August 2006 shows a glass façade with rounded edges. The entrance on Station Street originally included two curved 130-metre-tall towers on the site of Stephenson Tower. Due to the economic slowdown, the office space is not needed, and the "twin towers" plan has been shelved until the market picks up.[29]

Work began on Gateway Plus on 26 April 2010. The building work will be done in phases, to minimise disruption to passengers and shoppers. Building work is expected to last until at least 2015.[30]



New Street is the hub of the West Midlands rail network, as well as being a major national hub. The station is owned and managed by Network Rail, which provides all the operational staff for the station itself. Booking office and barriers are split between Virgin Trains and London Midland, with customer service or floor walker staff provided by Cross Country. Virgin Trains operates a First Class Lounge, and Network Rail runs the customer reception on the main concourse. ARRIVA Trains Wales runs services into New Street, and the station has also seen services operated by Silverlink Trains and Wales & West in the past, although these companies are now defunct. New Street is a Penalty Fare zone which is operated by London Midland on its trains and at the manual ticket barriers at the station; this can be by-passed by the lifts which are seldom barred – the lift area is generally monitored for suspect people and information is passed on to revenue protection staff who investigate.

New Street is a hub for Cross Country Trains and London Midland, which both have a train-crew depot at the station. Some trains are stabled at New Street in the through roads or the non-passenger bays behind Platform 12, but mostly trains are taken to their respective depots. London Midland uses Soho TMD in Smethwick for electric traction units, with its non-electric units kept at Tyesley TMD. Cross Country also uses Tyesley for its non-Voyager stock, with its Voyagers based at their purpose-built depot near Burton on Trent.

The platforms are divided into A and B ends, with an extra bay platform called 4C, with the B end of the station heading towards Wolverhampton. Longer trains such as the Class 390 service to London Euston and Cross Country HST services are numbered without an associated letter, since they occupy both ends of the platforms. Platform 4C can be used only for services heading through Monument Lane tunnel towards Wolverhampton. All signalling is controlled by New Street power signal box at the Wolverhampton or B end of the station.

Train services

The basic Monday to Saturday off-peak service is as follows:

Virgin Trains


Some services continue towards Glasgow, Aberdeen, Guildford and Penzance.

London Midland

Arriva Trains Wales

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
  Arriva Trains Wales
Birmingham - Chester
  Smethwick Galton Bridge
Arriva Trains Wales
Cambrian Line
Terminus   CrossCountry
Birmingham - Leicester
  Water Orton or
Coleshill Parkway
Birmingham - Stansted Airport
Coleshill Parkway
Bournemouth - Manchester
Cheltenham Spa CrossCountry
Leamington Spa   CrossCountry
University   CrossCountry
  Wilnecote or Tamworth
Cheltenham Spa   CrossCountry
Plymouth - Edinburgh
University   London Midland
Hereford — Birmingham
Duddeston   London Midland
Cross-City Line
  Five Ways
London Midland
Chase Line
Terminus   London Midland
  Sandwell and Dudley
Adderley Park   London Midland
Rugby-Birmingham-Stafford Line
  Smethwick Rolfe
Terminus   Virgin Trains
West Coast Main Line
  Virgin Trains
Virgin Trains
Sandwell and

See also

Further reading

  • A History of Birmingham, Chris Upton, 1997, ISBN 0-85033-870-0.
  • Birmingham New Street. The Story of a Great Station Including Curzon Street. 1 Background and Beginnings. The Years up to 1860. By Richard Foster. Wild Swan Publications Limited (1990) ISBN 0-906867-78-9
  • Birmingham New Street. The Story of a Great Station Including Curzon Street. 2 Expansion and Improvement. 1860 to 1923. By Richard Foster. Wild Swan Publications Limited (1990) ISBN 0-906867-79-7
  • Birmingham New Street. The Story of a Great Station Including Curzon Street. 3 LMS Days. 1923-1947 By Richard Foster. Wild Swan Publications Limited (1997) ISBN 1-874103-37-2
  • Birmingham New Street. The Story of a Great Station Including Curzon Street 4 British Railways. The First 15 Years. By Richard Foster. Wild Swan Publications Limited (Publication awaited).
  • Smith, Donald J. (1984).New Street Remembered: The story of Birmingham's New Street Station 1854-1967 In words and pictures. Birmingham: Barbryn Press Ltd. ISBN 0-906160-05-7.


  1. ^ Delta Rail (February 2011). "Station Usage 2009/10". Office of Rail Regulation. p. 6. Retrieved 2011-02-12. 
  2. ^ a b "Footfall Figures". Network Rail. p. 1. Retrieved 2011-02-12. 
  3. ^ Delta Rail (February 2011). "Station Usage 2009/10". Office of Rail Regulation. p. 7. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  4. ^ a b "Revamped station tops train poll". BBC News. 2 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-20. 
  5. ^ "New Street: New Start - The Birmingham Gateway Project". Birmingham City Council. Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  6. ^ "New Street Station". Rail Around Birmingham and the West Midlands. Retrieved 2008-07-07. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Birmingham New Street — History". Network Rail. Retrieved 2008-07-06. 
  8. ^ Pixton, Bob (2005). Birmingham-Derby: Portrait of a Famous Route. Cheltenham: Runpast. ISBN 9781870754637. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Foster, Andy (2007) [2005]. Birmingham. Pevsner Architectural Guides. Yale University Press. p. 110. ISBN 9780300107319. 
  12. ^ a b c Foster, Andy (2007) [2005]. Birmingham. Pevsner Architectural Guides. Yale University Press. p. 216. ISBN 978-0-300-10731-9. 
  13. ^ "Aerial View of New Street Station 1963". Birmingham City Council. Archived from the original on 2008-05-11. Retrieved 2008-07-06. 
  14. ^ "Report No. 7 – New Street Station, Stephenson Street/Navigation Street/Station Street and Smallbrook Queensway, City (C/05066/06/OUT) minutes". Birmingham City Council. Retrieved 2008-07-06. 
  15. ^ "New Street redevelopment 'on-track' for 2007". Birmingham City Council. 19 December 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2006-12-26. 
  16. ^ Arnot, Chris (June 2004). "The face behind The Voice is sorry for the delay today". RailNews (Stevenage). Retrieved 2008-07-07. 
  17. ^ Noszlopy, George T.; Beach, Jeremy (1998). Public Sculpture of Birmingham including Sutton Coldfield. ISBN 0-85323-692-5. 
  18. ^ Foster, Andy (2007) [2005]. Birmingham. Pevsner Architectural Guides. Yale University Press. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-300-10731-9. 
  19. ^ Details from listed building database (442131) - Grade II signal box. Images of England. English Heritage.
  20. ^ "Listed buildings". Guardian Unlimited.,8543,-11104251730,00.html. Retrieved 2008-07-06. 
  21. ^ "Windfarms top list of UK eyesores". BBC News. 13 November 2003. Retrieved 2006-11-29. 
  22. ^ "Rail Air Rights Towers Planned For Birmingham". 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-26. 
  23. ^ "Delivering a sustainable railway - White Paper CM7176". Department for Transport. 24 July 2007. 
  24. ^ Walker, Jonathan (12 February 2008). "New Street Station rebuild gets go-ahead". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  25. ^ Schaps, Karolin (18 February 2008). "Six architects vie for Birmingham New Street station". Building (London). Retrieved 2008-07-06. 
  26. ^ "Transforming New Street Station". Network Rail / Birmingham City Council / Advantage West Midlands / Centro. Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  27. ^ "MPs criticise New Street revamp". BBC News. 21 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-07. 
  28. ^ Re-New Street: Change at New Street[dead link]
  29. ^ Elkes, Neil (24 August 2009). "Twin towers plan for New Street station shelved". Birmingham Mail. 
  30. ^ "Birmingham New Street work to start this year". RailNews. 5 February 2010. 

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