Deputy Editor Charlie O’Keeffe reports on university railway station opened for travel

Written by Charlie O'Keeffe

On Sunday the 28th of January, the new University Railway Station opened for travel. 

The new station offers a number of improvements. When the station first opened in 1978, it was designed to serve 500,000 passengers daily. However, 40 years later, the number of passengers had increased to nearly 4 million. The station now has a capacity to accommodate up to 7.2 million people.

The new station includes two pavilion buildings, or pavilions. The main pavilion holds space for a cafe or shop, and notably, there is also space for an NHS facility. The station now features increased seating and additional lifts.

The station now has a capacity to accommodate up to 7.2 million people

The upgrade includes a new exit onto the canal and a bridge, allowing pedestrians to cross without passing through ticket barriers. One change to bear in mind is that the former entrance is now exit only.

Birmingham received £12 million of government investment to begin the process of upgrading the station. The upgrade was evaluated at £56 million. Councillor Ian Ward explained that part of the rationale was that, in improving the station, people may be made more likely to take the train. He said ‘Getting more people onto trains across the region is one of the key elements of our work to reduce traffic congestion and reliance on the car, as we improve our air quality and progress towards a zero-carbon economy.’

Despite the construction, which took three years, the existing station remained open to travellers. The intention was for the station to be completed two years ago, as part of preparing the city for the commonwealth games. However, supply chain issues partly delayed the station’s full completion until this  year

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, expressed his satisfaction at the completion of the project, acknowledging the difficulty the station had encountered in being built. He said ‘Given the millions of people a year the University of Birmingham and QE Hospital collectively draw in, it’s been clear for some time that a new fit-for-purpose station was needed. So I’m pleased that finally – despite the sometimes less than ideal pace of progress – we can unveil the new University Station.’

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