Thursday 20 Jan 2005

NEW STREET STATION DESIGN PHASE GETS GO AHEAD

Route:

Plans to improve Birmingham New Street station are a step closer today following the signing of a formal funding agreement to progress a £3.9m feasibility study into redeveloping the station. The agreement, signed by Birmingham City Council and the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), will enable Network Rail to undertake a detailed study into design work and the commercial evaluation that is needed to progress a £350m scheme to completely transform Birmingham New Street station by 2011. Councillor Michael Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council and Chairman of the New Street Steering Group, said: “New Street Station is totally inadequate for both Birmingham and the West Midlands. I am optimistic that with our agreement now in place we can move forward with the design and implementation work to achieve a truly memorable gateway station for the city. “This collaborative approach reflects the importance that all stakeholders place on the transformation of New Street Station – it is the number one priority for the City Council” The funding package for the feasibility study, to be completed by Autumn 2005, has been assembled from a variety of sources including the European Union, the SRA and £100,000 from Centro, the West Midlands public transport promoter. Robbie Burns, Route Director for Network Rail, said: “We are delighted to have been given the go-ahead for the feasibility study. A unified approach from all members of the Steering Group has been fundamental in enabling us to progress to this stage. We have a long way to go but I am confident that with the continued level of support and determination, Birmingham will finally get the station it truly deserves.” Following the completion of the design study it is anticipated that the development scheme will start in 2006. A parallel bid for implementation funding of £100m has been made to the Government by Centro and West Midlands districts as part of their Local Transport Plan and Advantage West Midlands has agreed in principle to match this contribution. Further work is progressing to ensure appropriate commercial and rail industry contributions are also made. Rob Donald, Director General of Centro said: “Rail patronage in the West Midlands is growing faster than anywhere in the UK, so it is essential we have the capacity to keep up with passenger demand. The majority of Birmingham commuters now travel by public transport – one fifth of them by train – so they, and the many thousands of national and international visitors, really do deserve a decent gateway to the city.” David O’Reilly, Director of Projects & Transactions for the Strategic Rail Authority, concluded: "The agreement reached with the City Council is an important opportunity to maintain the momentum of economic regeneration in Birmingham and attract additional investment in the railway network, through a transformation of Birmingham New Street Station. It also reflects the tremendous commitment made by a number of parties, working together to deliver for the tens of thousands of passengers who rely on the station every day. “We look forward to seeing Network Rail playing an increasingly strong focal role in: working with local, regional and central government bodies; coordinating private sector involvement; and ensuring that the outputs from the design study provide the basis of a powerful case for obtaining the necessary government funding support to redevelop successfully."

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