Saturday 31 Jan 2004
CAPACITY CONTROL ISSUES AT BIRMINGHAM NEW STREET
- Region & Route:
Over the last few years Birmingham New Street station has experienced a marked increase in passenger numbers. At peak periods during any one day up to 40, 000 people pass through the station, this is an increase of 12, 000 in the last three years. The new BullRing centre, which opened in September 2003, has added to the increase in footfall. As a result of the number of people now using the station it can on occasion and at peak times, become over-crowded. Our first priority must always be for the safety of passengers and staff. In extremely busy periods we may take a decision to restrict access to the station. This course of action will only be taken when deemed absolutely necessary. When restrictions are imposed we will work to the best of our ability to alleviate the problems as soon as possible and minimise disruption to rail travellers. Temporary station closures are only carried out in the interest of safety. Network Rail recognises that a long-term solution is needed to resolve the problems associated with the increase in passenger flow. However, a long-term fix depends entirely on external funding. Major changes to Birmingham New Street are classified an (enhancement) and are decided upon and funded by the Strategic Rail Authority. The SRA and the Birmingham City Council are currently considering two proposed initiatives. These include: Network Rail’s current preferred option is a ‘Masterplan’ study for the re-development of Birmingham New Street, which is awaiting review by the SRA. Network Rail requires £190m to fund the construction programme, which would take 5 years to complete and would involve the creation of a 21st century station environment to meet future passenger and transport needs. The new station would house increased platform, concourse and access capacity, passenger departure lounges and step free access to all areas. A second initiative, being lead by Birmingham City Council, involves the potential for an entirely new facility to be constructed on site. This would create a ‘Gateway’ station for the West Midlands with the construction of a landmark building, which responds to the needs of the transport hub and allows sufficient commercial development to fund the proposal. Network Rail is currently in discussions with Birmingham City Council and looks forward to developing these further. Short-tem works to minimise the problems are currently underway, which will see the expansion of Birmingham New Street’s existing concourse. This £ 1.975m project is being funded by the construction of additional retail space within the new concourse area and is due for completion by the end of March 2004. Whilst proposals for the future of the station are reviewed it is business as usual. We will continue to ensure the safe operation of Birmingham New Street and work as hard as possible to minimise disruption to users of the station.
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We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.
Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.