The work to transform Birmingham’s New Street station into a spacious superbly equipped hub was finally completed and opened to the public on 20 September 2015. The original main entrance facing the Bull Ring Shopping Centre has been reopened and this leads into a truly massive concourse space, much of it lit by daylight steaming in through a series of massive windows in the roof. There are ticket machines close to this entrance as well as beside a wide entrance from the South Side area and a doubling of the ramps up to the Stephenson Street entrance beside which the Midland Metro tram route will soon be operating. There are shops and food outlets sprinkled around the edges of the massive concourse and ticket barriers give access to the B-end of the platforms while far ahead another set of barriers give access to the A ends of the platforms. There are limited amounts of additional seating but the one clear criticism is that the main Ticket Office is invisible until the passenger has almost reached it. It is substantially hidden by a massive set of departure displays and partly by two sets of escalators which from 24 September 2015 will take customers up to the massive new Grand Central Shopping Centre above the station. An innovation for New Street Station is the provision of a multi-faith room on the south side of the massive concourse. It was locked and unavailable on the 20th but was open on the 22nd September. It is equipped with a prayer mat and arrows pointing towards Mecca but that is all. Not a single chair or other piece of furniture has been installed. Originally described as a “Quiet Room” it was expected to have appropriate furniture to rest the wearied traveller. Perhaps this will be installed soon.
Overall verdict – SUPERB – such a pity nothing can be done about the cramped station underneath!
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