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Birmingham New Street


Wainy316
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So our wonderful city now has a state of the art shiny train station,

Anybody been yet, how is it all functioning?  Any teething problems.  I'll be getting my first look tomorrow either side of the derby.

Getting pretty good feedback so far.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/sep/20/new-birmingham-new-street-amazing-just-first-impressions

New Birmingham New Street? 'Amazing. Just amazing'

Birmingham New Street was full of tourists on Sunday. Not tourists going anywhere: just people, mostly local, who had come to gaze in astonishment at the shining stranger unveiled for the first time in their their city.

“Amazing. Just amazing,” said Matt Hale, in danger of getting a crick in his neck from gazing upwards. “I mean, it’s really nice.”

As screens in the station recounted, after 1,825 days and nights, up to 3,500 people working round the clock, 12,000 tonnes of steel, 5,507 square metres of granite paving, new New Street Station was open for business, replacing the structure that had held the unenviable title of the most loathed railway station in Britain.

“We are expecting a high volume of passengers today,” the announcer said. “We hope you enjoy the new station.”

As a woman perched uncomfortably on a low steel rail pointed out, there are hardly any seats, patchy wifi, the cash machines weren’t working and she couldn’t find the loos. But what was stopping people in their tracks and turning their eyes up to the soaring new domed roof was the most welcome new feature: daylight.

Other commuters might take such a banal phenomenon for granted, but it’s more than half a century since Brummies last saw the light. Switching it on again meant cutting through and removing 6,000 tonnes of concrete, without closing the station.

Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail, made it sound easy: “We took a really rather awful 1960s station, cut a big hole where the car park used to be and put in an atrium the size of a football pitch to flood the concourse with natural light.”

Carrying out this simple plan, while – at peak time – trains continued to leave the busiest station outside London every 37 seconds, has been a marathon rather than a sprint and it is not quite over the finish line yet: down in the stygian depths where the actual trains run, work continues feverishly, though the trains are all now reached by escalators.

“It looks much better now, but it would have to – nothing they could have done could have made it worse,” said Bob Langford, who had come with his wife Anne out of curiosity. A regular commuter until his retirement, he knew the station painfully well. “The shame of it all though is that they’ve done nothing to improve the actual working tracks part of it – there’s all this, but there isn’t room for one extra train down below.”

Hale, a documentary film-maker, lives nearby in the Jewellery Quarter, and bumped into several friends who had come to confirm the rumour that it is again possible to use the station as a shortcut between city centre streets that have been cut off as if by the Grand Canyon for decades.

Birmingham New Street

 The concourse is five times the size of that at London Euston. Photograph: Network Rail/PA

Olive McMaster, born in 1935, remembers old New Street, before the previous redevelopment, with steam belching from locomotives and traders selling from barrows on the steep cobbled street outside. Her family also used the station as a short cut, just as Hale and his friends intend to.

“I wouldn’t call it beautiful, but it was a wonderful place to me, part of my life,” she said. “The new station was not nice but this is much better. Very impressive.”

When the original New Street opened in 1854, under a spectacular iron and glass roof claimed as the largest in the world, it was much admired. The author George Barrow insisted it was “enough to make one proud of being a modern English man”.

The beautiful roof was lost to German bombing raids. Its replacement followed in the 1960s, a triumph of concrete bewilderment, sandwiched between a car park and a shopping centre, with dank underground platforms and a warren of dismal, fluorescently lit passages spitting passengers out, apparently randomly, into busy city streets. With no daylight and little natural ventilation, it was an oven or a fridge depending on the season.

I’m used to Washington DC and we have big stations – but this is big

In recent years, as passenger numbers rose steeply to an estimated 35 million a year and town planners struggled to claw back the area from giant roads that had carved up the old city centre, it gained an increasingly unfortunate reputation. In 2003 it was voted the ugliest building in Britain, last year the country’s worst station, and hundreds signed up to the Facebook page “all the problems in the world are caused by Birmingham New Street”.

There are more ribbons, balloons, speeches and many more shops to come when the shopping centre upstairs, replacing the dismal Pallasades and incorporating a new branch of John Lewis, opens on Thursday.

It’s all so different that many people who knew the old new station were instantly and completely lost, turning in bafflement to the pink-neon-jacketed helpers handing out maps. “It’s big,” said an American postgrad student trying to work out how to get to Manchester. “I’m used to Washington DC and we have big stations – but this is big.”

 

 

 

 

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On the radio this morning they were clear that the aim was to have the centre of Birmingham as the second shopping destination in the UK. They were also at pains to point out that whilst others might make more noise or have niches such as politics or TV, for pure total numbers, for total business and industry, Birmingham is the second city.

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as a main contractor i love it when you finish a project, in this case 5 years and £700m, sit there all proud of yourself and then see criticisms such as "patchy wifi"

im working with Mace elsewhere, heard some snippets of info about it, will try and find out how the opening has gone

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as a main contractor i love it when you finish a project, in this case 5 years and £700m, sit there all proud of yourself and then see criticisms such as "patchy wifi"

im working with Mace elsewhere, heard some snippets of info about it, will try and find out how the opening has gone

planners that think they are designers

local councillors that think good design is brown pvc tudor trimmings

project managers that think the thinking time in design is the obvious place to make up some time

clients that want the absolute bottom price, the absolute best trades people, the absolute minimum time on site, and a design award

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I can cope with stuff like that, unfortunately it comes with the territory, what i cant cope with is the public and their menial criticisms of the building and their lack of understanding of our scope of works

patchy wi-fi would be a prime example, data usually isnt part of the main contractors package, it'll be sourced by the end user, if id spent that amount of time and effort as the main contractor building that station followed by succesfully completing it (not sure if its on time and budget) i couldnt even start to explain where on my couldnt give a **** list the strength of the wi-fi would be, to see it on the press release would be soul destroying

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Looks a nice building, definitely needed improving. I've not been able to see any seats at all on any of the platforms the entire time this work has been going on, not surprised that an early criticism has been that there aren't enough seats.

I hate the name Grand Central, so so so cringey to just copy something iconic from New York. So many famous Brummie thinkers, musicians, sportsman etc that we could've named it after. Even significant events from Midlands history. Will look incredibly small time to any experienced travellers visiting Birmingham IMO.

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Will look incredibly small time to any experienced travellers visiting Birmingham IMO.

but will be helpful to inexperienced travellers visiting for the first time, especially when curzon opens in the next ten years, 4 major railway stations in the city centre and several smaller ones dotted about the city, it needed to be something that said it was the main one

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It's OK, but at the end of the day, the real problem with New Street hasn't  been addressed, which is the fact that the platforms **** suck and there aren't enough of them. So it's all nice 'style' but the 'substance' isn't really there, especially for those who use it very often, it's still a total pain in the arse and I couldn't give a shit about it having a John Lewis. 

The fact is that the UK is one of the very worst for rail, in terms of service, cost and innovation in the developed world. I absolutely despise the infrastructure in this country right to it's absolutely rotten core. In an ideal world, when the franchises run out, the government would renationalise the lot of it. 

I remember as a kid how when we started going abroad for holidays, everywhere we went always had a better airport than Brum, which was a shed in a field. 

There was a question on QI years ago about how fast spring moves north (a third of a mile an hour) and from what I can see redevelopment moves a hell of a lot slower.

And just like spring it never actually reaches Scotland.

 

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Will look incredibly small time to any experienced travellers visiting Birmingham IMO.

but will be helpful to inexperienced travellers visiting for the first time, especially when curzon opens in the next ten years, 4 major railway stations in the city centre and several smaller ones dotted about the city, it needed to be something that said it was the main one

Granted, but then "Birmingham Central Station" gets the job done just as well as plagiarising the name of another city's attraction. Plus the actual station is still called New Street. Just don't think copying the names of already well known places is going to do anything for Birmingham's reputation, or help it become a 'global city.'

Agree with the comment above about it looking very nice but still being a complete arse to use. Style over substance for sure.

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This 'Grand Central' thing. I've done a very quick dig around, no more than a few wiki pages. New Street or it's predecessors on the same site were in operation from 1852 and formally named and opened in 1854. At the time it was like nothing previously seen, 40 trains per hour and the world's largest single span roof. A record it kept for 14 years, not bad going in the white heat of industrial expansion across the globe.

It was initially known as 'The Grand Central Station at Birmingham' a slightly grandiose title for a station in a town (wouldn't be a city for another 30 years). But that was how it was referred to, prior to the building of the New York version.

New Street is the largest and busiest station in the UK outside of central London.

I wouldn't worry too much about looking small time. It's more about knowing your history and being a bit more on the front foot against upstarts like mouthy Manchester.

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I only saw it briefly last night but I was impressed. Huge and open, full of light, very modern looking. I liked it.

But dusty and grubby though. They obviously haven't cleaned up properly yet after the building work. Will look great when it's all properly finished

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