New Street station concourse soon to be flooded with natural light as new roof is completed (with new timelapse footage): Final piece of ETFE going in at Birmingham New Street Station

Wednesday 17 Sep 2014

New Street station concourse soon to be flooded with natural light as new roof is completed (with new timelapse footage)

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The final piece of Birmingham New Street station’s new atrium roof covering was put into place yesterday (Tuesday 16 September 2014), marking another important milestone in the station’s redevelopment.

Made from the same high-tech material as the Eden Project in Cornwall and the Allianz Arena in Munich, the translucent roof covering will allow natural light to stream down through the atrium onto the huge new concourse below – but not before demolition experts remove around 6,000 tonnes of concrete over two floors of the old Pallasades shopping centre.

Chris Montgomery, Network Rail’s project director for the Birmingham New Street project said: “As our work to transform New Street station continues, excitement among our 1,000-strong workforce is really starting to build. Piece by piece, the design and concept for the station is being brought to life and it’s great to see the last section of the new roof covering lifted into place.

“Completing the atrium structure and covering it in its Eden Project-like material is a real milestone but we’re already looking forward to the next step. Demolishing part of the former Pallasades will flood the new concourse with natural light from above, transforming the experience of millions of passengers who will use this fantastic new station when it opens in about a year's time.”

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer said: “Birmingham needs a station that reflects the city’s growing reputation as a strong, vibrant and modern city and I am confident that, with just over a year to go before the work is complete, New Street will deliver that.

“This is a great achievement and a fantastic example of how the £38billion being invested in the UK’s rail network, as part of our long-term economic plan, is making real improvements for passengers.”

Demolition engineers from specialist contractor Coleman & Company will work round-the-clock over the next six months to remove thousands of tonnes of concrete, creating what will become the heart of the new station structure. To keep noise levels down during night time work, a special machine has been designed, known as the “Mega Muncher”, that ‘eats’ the concrete. This approach is significantly quieter and less disruptive than traditional jackhammer-type methods.

Martyn Woodhouse, Mace’s director of project delivery said: “Demolition by its very nature can be noisy work so we have carefully planned this work with Coleman’s so we cause as little noise as possible. During the demolition we are using a machine which has been specially made to ‘munch’ through or crush the concrete beams. The traditional method of ‘hammering’ or ‘pecking’ the concrete would have been much noisier. The noisiest work, concrete slab breaking, will be restricted to the daytime.”

Mark Coleman, managing director at Coleman & Company, said “To demolish 6,000 tonnes of cast reinforced concrete from the centre of a busy city centre construction site, above a live operational rail station, without noise, dust and disruption is a huge engineering challenge. Some of these beams weigh more than the equivalent of 30 Range Rovers. Our engineers have been working closely with Network Rail and MACE, assessing the structure and crunching the numbers, to ensure that all works are completed to the highest standards.”

To view the new timelapse on youtube go to

Notes to editors

ETFE facts:


Known as ETFE – or ethylene tetrafluoroethylene – the translucent material is strong, durable, has a high corrosion resistance, is self-cleaning and recyclable. It is also much lighter than glass, a significant benefit when the new development is being built directly on top of Birmingham New Street station underneath.

As well as the Eden Project in Cornwall, the ETFE material has also been used to cover the outside of Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena and the Beijing National Aquatics centre.

Demolition facts:


The “Mega Muncher”, the primary demolition tool, is the only one of its kind in the world. It has been specifically designed for work on the atrium.

  • 25 tonnes in weight
  • Remote control
  • Infra-red safety zone fencing for auto cut out
  • Jet ski style safety pull chord
  • Rubber tracks
  • Formula 1 re-fuelling system
  • Bio oil
  • LED lighting

Over 95% of material from this project has been recycled and the concrete from the demolition will be recycled too.

4,000 tonnes of concrete is being removed form the roof of the former Pallasades and a further 2,000 tonnes is being removed form the floor below which previously made up the ceiling of the concourse.

The demolition work will take place between September 2014 and March 2015 between 7am and 3am.

Acoustic screens are being erected to minimise noise reaching our neighbours and constant noise monitoring takes place around the site.

The redeveloped Birmingham New Street station and Grand Central development are due to open in 2015.

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