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Birmingham's Railway Stations

Until the early 1970's, Birmingham had three Railway stations. By far the largest was New Street, which until it was rebuilt in the 1960's, was, in effect two stations side by side, with Station Drive separating them. The ex Midland Railway station had a magnificent roof, as did the old London & North Western station until it was bombed in the 1940's. The second station was the Great Western Railway's Snow Hill, an elegant station, that met it's end when it was demolished to make way for Office blocks and a car park. The Great Western Railway also had a small terminal station, Moor Street, which served local passenger trains on the Leamington and Stratford routes.

And so to the present.


 New Street station

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Birmingham New Street is frequently referred to as the "Worst Railway Station in Britain". (but perhaps if Europe was included Brussells Midi would run it close). So does it deserve that title? Most certainly. It is subterranean hole that was imposed upon the city by the planners who permitted a shopping development and a car park to be built on a raft over the station in the 1960's. Until such time as both are removed, then the station will continue to be a disgrace to the so called "Second City".  And in recent years, Railtrack, and now Network Rail, have further contributed to the dowdy image, by allowing the track within the station to become weed infested, and for the brickwork of the cuttings just outside the station to become overgrown with Buddleia. And the reputation the station has for congestion and delays is almost wholly down to those train companies who operate far too many, far too short, trains. No wonder there is congestion. The main purpose of New Street should be to link Birmingham with other UK cities. Short distance commuting should be by Light Rail, European style. The obsession with 4 and 5 trains per hour, calling at all stations, clogging up main routes, must stop. Halve the frequency and double the length of the trains. And the same principal should apply to Cross Country express services, operated with 4 and 5 coach trains. What a nonsense. 


 International station

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The station comprises five platforms , only four being normally in use . The station concourse was constructed across the platforms, and gave access to the NEC and Airport Link, and included the Booking Office, Travel Centre, Food establishments, and several  Shops. At platform level, the central areas were dark and uninviting, but with pleasant floral displays in the open  at each end, the passenger experience was at least an improvement over New Street. The station remained in that form until 2004, when it was upgraded with a stylish entrance hall, and an improvement in facilities.   


 Moor Street station

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At great expense, the original Moor Street station, together with the two new platforms serving the Snow Hill line, has been returned to it's former glory as a result of initiatives by Chiltern Trains and various funding agencies. It is magnificent, and will be more so when the bay platforms reopen. This is what a Railway Station should be like. 


 Snow Hill station

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Snow Hill station is sadly another "Black Hole", though no one can blame the planners this time, since the station closed entirely in the early 1970's, and the area was redeveloped into smart Offices and a car park. The station reopened in the late 1980's, and generated much extra rail traffic, also relieving the strain on New Street. Then in the late  1990's, light rail was introduced from Wolverhampton to Birmingham, using the trackbed of the one time Great Western main line through Bilston, Wednesbury, and West Bromwich. But the authorities decreed in their wisdom, that the tramway should terminate, not close to the city centre, say Colmore Row, but adjoining Snow Hill station in a tiny area accessed either from an escalator or from one of the Snow Hill platforms. But to provide track access, one of the station's platforms had to be taken out of use, thus reducing the capacity of the station by 25 per cent (three platforms instead of four). Now the authorities are complaining that the Light Rail  passenger levels are unsatisfactory, and that the system loses money. Well it serves them right. The line should have gone into the city centre in the first place. 


 Jewellery Quarter station

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The station, close to the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham, is a recent development. It is a combined Heavy Rail and Light Rail station. The station design follows that of other Centro stations in the area, ie Modern and Metal. 


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