New Street Station, one of the busiest and most important rail hubs in the country, will soon be transformed into a world-class interchange through a £600 million improvement project, known as New Street Gateway. The improvements will create an icon for Britain’s second city, and set new standards for comfort and convenience which will benefit rail travelers up and down the country.
The project began in September 2009 and is expected to be complete in early 2016. The first phase (the construction of the concourse) is expected to be complete in 2012/13 and the second phase (the atrium) the following year. The New Street Gateway will remain fully operational throughout.
Advantage West Midlands, the regional development agency (RDA) for the West Midlands, have contributed £100m – the largest investment in a single project by any RDA in the country – whilst the Department of Transport is providing a total of £288m, pledged in two stages. The Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform will provide £100m, and the Government will provide £388m. Network Rail (Britain’s railway infrastructure operator) committed £128m and Centro a further £10m, along with other contributions from the private sector.
The programme is being delivered by a heavyweight team comprising Advantage West Midlands, Birmingham City Council, Centro and Network Rail. The partnership was formed to deliver an iconic landmark befitting Birmingham’s status as a fulcrum for the British transport network, and relieve the strain which has blighted New Street in recent years.
Approximately 60% of the trains travelling between London and the North of England each day pass through New Street and the total number of people who use the station each week equates to the entire population of Manchester and Liverpool combined. Yet New Street has received little improvement or enlargement since it opened in the 1960s, and now receives more than double the number of passengers it was originally designed to handle.
As a result of this onerous workload, the existing facilities have come under increasing strain and the facades of the station have become aged and tattered. The Gateway project will make the station wider and more accessible, reducing congestion and inconvenience for passengers, and give the facility a fresh, dynamic image for the 21st century.
The existing platforms will be made brighter, clearer and more accessible, with 8 new entrances, 14 new lifts and 42 new escalators providing better access for all.
Meanwhile an iconic new façade will build on Birmingham’s emerging reputation for good design: a grand concourse (three and a half times bigger than the present hall) will create a new focal point for the building, enclosed by a 2,800m² atrium filled with natural light.
In addition to these essential improvements, the shopping centre above the station will receive a complete makeover, and the exterior of the station will take on a gentle curving form, and will be covered in reflective sheets of metal.
The façade will incorporate three high-technology digital displays reporting train timetable information, which will enhance movement through the station and make the entrances to the concourse clear and easy to find.
Finally the project will facilitate a major commercial mixed-use development opportunity for two 30-storey towers to the southern aspect, all surrounded by pleasant new public spaces and squares.
Several sustainable and environmentally considerate features have been included in the design. Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) will help manage storm and surface water that runs off surfaces, preventing flooding and the overloading of sewers, whilst systems for harvesting rainwater and grey water have been included to facilitate essential functions such as toilet flushing.
Green roofs will provide a plethora of environmental benefits, soaking up storm water and air pollution while absorbing carbon dioxide and providing a valuable city centre wildlife habitat.
The project reached a major milestone when Birmingham City Council completed the purchase of The Pallasades shopping centre, directly above the station.
The Pallasades is key to the redevelopment of the entire area as part of the flagship scheme, a fact recognised by Councillor Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council and chairman of the New Street Funders Board.
Cllr Whitby said: “This is a significant development in the Gateway project and its speedy acquisition means that the momentum is building towards delivering a completely new rail station for Birmingham, the region and the UK.
“The purchase of the Centre was an important component of the plan, and shows our commitment to the project and our determination to ensure Birmingham has a station fit for the future.
“Network Rail is a key partner in our proposals and they will continue to undertake the day-to-day management of the Centre, through their current agents Savilles. So, it will be ‘business as usual’ for tenants, staff and shoppers alike – a New Start for New Street begins now.”
Mick Laverty, chief executive at Advantage West Midlands, said: “This is an important and positive step forward for the Gateway project, particularly in such a challenging time for the economy.
“Our £100 million investment is still the largest investment in a single regeneration project by any regional development agency in the country and shows our commitment to creating a world-class rail hub for West Midlands.
“During the downturn it is vital that government funding from Advantage West Midlands and partners in the public sector keep major physical developments moving forward, creating jobs and changing lives long after the global economy has picked itself up and brushed itself down.”
Neil Thompson, construction director for Network Rail, said: “The commercial agreement is a significant development for the project. Network Rail has been working on detailed designs for the station, following the launch of visionary concepts last year, which will enable us to start on site as early as possible.
A boost for the economy
Along with creating a 21st century transport hub for the region, the New Street Gateway is also expected to deliver substantial economic benefits. In total, the scheme is estimated to produce over 10,000 new jobs across for the city, in the process boosting the economy by £2.3bn.
Hoardings experts are first choice for Network Rail
Specialist hoarding contractors approved by Network Rail, Brighouse-based Kwik-Klik, were appointed by Mace in Sept 1 2009 to supply all the specialised hoardings for the Birmingham New Street Station project.
These include the Kwik-Klik Soundmaster (Fire Barrier) hoardings designed to create 1 and 2 hour fire compartmented areas around hot works on site. In this project the hoardings have been used around hot works to pierce through to the Palisades shopping centre immediately above the train station, in order to create openings for the installation of new escalators leading down to the station platforms.
Other specialist hoardings used include Ultrahoard hoardings (a water filled counterbalance hoarding system). This free-standing hoarding is being used alongside railway platforms to screen construction works to avoiding distracting drivers on trains entering and leaving the station.
Kwik-Klik also installed Managed Station R-11 Network Rail specification hoardings for the site perimeter in Network Rail’s corporate grey colour, adding a corporate look to the development. These hoardings are manufactured from 100 per cent recycled plastic and can be moved to different locations on the site, as required. The hoardings are also re-usable and recyclable at the end of the project.
Network Rail chose the hoardings because of their eco-friendly properties and have also specified them on numerous other rail contracts including London Bridge, Blackfriars Station, Edinburgh Waverley Station, Manchester Piccadilly, and many others.
Kwik-Klik is the original pioneer of high quality, innovative, sustainable hoardings for screening internal refurbishment work and securing external construction sites. The company offer bespoke systems and configurations to match the site terrain.
EMDD – arrived on time at Birmingham New Street Station
East Midlands Diamond Drilling, working as sub contractors to Coleman and Company Ltd (demolition contractors), completed all the required concrete cutting and ancillary processes on the Birmingham Gateway Project ahead of schedule.
The requirement was to remove large sections of slabs and beams in the existing NCP station car park, to begin to create a new concourse and atrium some three and a half times larger than the existing one. One of the difficulties encountered was that much of the work had to be carried out over live railway lines, making deconstruction problematic. EMDD drew on its 30 years of experience to give advice to Network Rail, their engineers and Coleman and Company Ltd on the practicalities of diamond drilling, sawing and robotic demolition and generally working within the restrictions imposed.
Work commenced with the drilling of 3000 holes and the floor sawing of 4000 linear metres between 150mm and 400mm deep. EMDD went on to wire saw 1000 sq metres of heavily reinforced concrete beams and to wall saw 750 linear metres through 200mm thick reinforced concrete. With 4,000 litres of water a day being used to lubricate and cool cutting equipment, over 1,000,000 litres (or 1000 tonnes) of concrete slurry needed to be recycled for reuse in cutting operations or filtered to a level of purification, whereby the end product was almost drinkable, before being allowed to enter the drainage system.
Where diamond cutting techniques could not be utilised, one example being above the main service spine containing all the communication cables for the whole of the station complex, alternative methods were sought. EMDD carried out the removal of slabs and beams above the spine by using a remotely controlled robotic crusher.
In total, over 7,500 tonnes of reinforced concrete were removed… and all ahead of schedule.