The hottest topic in Birmingham right now is without doubt the plan to redevelop the ageing New Street station. Consultant WSP is designing the £350M regeneration project and has until November to formulate its thoughts.
The scheme will be delivered by Network Rail and is being funded and steered by a multiagency group that includes regional development agency Advantage West Midlands, Birmingham City Council, transport operator Centro, Government Office of the West Midlands, Network Rail and the Strategic Rail Authority.
Centro director general Rob Donald is in no doubt about the scheme's importance to West Midlands transport: 'More people than ever are travelling into central Birmingham by train, ' he says.
'It will provide a vast improvement to the daily journey of the growing number of rail commuters and a landmark gateway to the city at the heart of the national rail network, ' he says.
Through the development of New Street, station capacity will be substantially increased to meet long term passenger demand with the enhanced facilities being available by 2011, in a scheme that minimises rail service disruption during the construction phase.
New Street station's external appearance will be transformed with an imposing glass roof to let natural light flood on to a new concourse.
The internal layout will also be radically changed, providing much improved arrival points to enhance passenger accessibility and facilities.
Improved pedestrian access to areas beyond the station should also help to promote further new commercial development.