Birmingham commuters and intercity passengers this week got their first taste of the £600M remodelling and upgrade of the city’s New Street station.
Successful switchover to the the new western concourse, part of phase one of the redevelopment was carried out on Sunday and Monday.
Network Rail and Birmingham City Council, jointly developing the project since 2010, had an army of staff and Olympics-style volunteers on hand to guide users through the new areas and links to platforms below.
A months-long publicity campaign had prepared passengers for the first change to the station in 40 years.
The brightly lit concourse, almost twice the size of the old one, will give passengers lift access to platforms, many more escalators, new ticket offices, and more room for circulation.
It is accessed by three new entrances with startling “eye” window features in a polished stainless steel cladding.
“Passengers will not yet see the full impact of the scheme” Network Rail project director Chris Montgomery told NCE. His joint team, with delivery project manager Mace, now moves into the vacated original concourse and surrounding offices, to strip them out and rebuild them.
The work will continue until 2015. It will double the station again area, and will open up major new retail and administrative areas. The interior will be transformed with a stunning central atrium rising to a transparent roof.
Natural light is a key element in the transformation of the post-war reinforced concrete station, with its underground platforms, long reviled as one of the least usable and unpleasing in Britain.
It requires a complex demolition of the roof and upper floors in the central section and fitting of major steelwork.
The final station will also feature a new John Lewis superstore and multiple surrounding retail and leisure outlets.
The renovation is one of the largest and most complex ever for Network Rail. Work has been done around continuing full live operation of the station Ð the busiest outside London with 140 000 passengers daily. It is a critical hub for the UK network. Any disruption there is magnified across the country.