Monday 13 Nov 2017
Passengers advised to plan their travel as Birmingham gears up for record Christmas crowds
- London North Western
The start of Birmingham’s famous Christmas market signals the start of the busiest time of year in Birmingham and passengers are being urged to plan their journeys and allow extra time when travelling by train.
The festive attraction gets underway this Thursday (16 November), along with the city’s famous big wheel and ice rink, and sees millions of people travel into the city in the build up to Christmas, many who travel in by train.
Last year a record 230,000 people used Birmingham New Street station on the first Saturday after the market opened - a figure which is expected to be beaten this year.
The average number of passengers who use the station every day is 170,000 but this increases to an average of more than 200,000 per day in the build up to Christmas.
While there is more space than ever inside Birmingham New Street station, crowd control measures may be in use at busy times to safely access platform areas and trains. Extra staff will be on hand to provide assistance.
Patrick Power, Network Rail’s station manager at Birmingham New Street, said: “The Christmas market and festive season are great for Birmingham but put significant pressure on the station to safely manage much higher passenger numbers and sudden surges of people trying to catch their train.
“While there is more than enough space to handle the expected crowds on the concourse, we have to be prepared to put queuing measures in place to get to the platform areas, should we need to.
“Our advice to passengers is allow extra time to make your train, don’t rely on your last service and check before you travel. There will be extra staff in place across the station to provide advice and information and help keep passengers safe.”
Phil Edwards, assistant director transportation and connectivity at Birmingham City Council, said: “With so much going on in Birmingham during the festive period as well as a number of ongoing transport projects and developments, the city is going to be very busy. It is therefore important to plan your journeys and allow plenty of time for travel. We recommend leaving the car at home and using public transport, walking or cycling as the best options for travel.”
Advice from the train operators:
Natasha Grice, General Manager for Virgin Trains in the West Midlands, said: “The train really is the best way to get into Birmingham and take in the atmosphere of the Christmas Market. Our team will be on hand to help the record numbers expected to attend this year and we’d encourage everyone to plan ahead to ensure they make the most of their day.”
London Midland's general manager for the West midlands, Mark Goodall, said: “We want everyone to enjoy visiting Birmingham this Christmas. As trains are expected to be much busier than usual over the next few weeks, our advice is to plan your travel options in advance and don't rely on your last train home or you could be disappointed.
Cross Country’s managing director, Andrew Cooper, said: “Every year more and more people are using our trains to come to Birmingham for the Christmas Market and festive attractions. As before, we’ll be providing extra seats to help, but would urge everyone to plan their journey in advance and not aim to catch the final train of the day as these will be very busy.”
Lynne Milligan , customer services director at Arriva Trains Wales, said: “Birmingham Christmas market is a real highlight for visitors, many of whom are customers on our services.
“We will be working hard to ensure as many trains as possible are in operation, however some services are likely to be very busy so we would urge customers to plan their journeys carefully in advance to ensure they enjoy the festivities.”
Passengers are also being urged to think ahead and plan their journeys if they will be travelling over Christmas. As part of its Railway Upgrade Plan, Network Rail will be carrying out a significant amount of improvement work across Britain between 24 December and 3 January which may affect journeys.
This includes track and signalling upgrades in the Birmingham area which will affect trains between Birmingham and Wolverhampton, a bridge replacement between Rugby and Stafford and track renewal between Northampton and Rugby.
Passengers can plan their Christmas travel at www.nationalrail.co.uk/christmas; for specific Birmingham New Street station information follow @NetworkRailBHM or check with your train operator.
About Network Rail
Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 38,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.
About the Railway Upgrade Plan
The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:
- longer, faster more frequent trains;
- better, more reliable infrastructure; and
- better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.