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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 February 2008, 18:55 GMT
Goodbye to 'dingy' New Street
New Street Station

By Kathryn Edwards
BBC News, Birmingham

Birmingham's dark and dingy New Street station looks like it has been almost completely bypassed by modern architecture.

As a friend once put it, the station puts the "ming" into Birmingham.

When it was first opened in the 1960s it was only designed to cope with half the 17m passengers who now use the station each year.

But it is not just the capacity of the railway station that has been left behind.

In the meantime, neighbours such as the Bullring, the Mailbox and the Rotunda have undergone radical redevelopments.

Hell hath a name and it is New Street
Comment on a Facebook group

However, the first impression thousands of new visitors to the city get is a concrete box with artificial lights.

As a commuter who uses New Street daily I've experienced some of the worst the station has to offer.

The complete lack of daylight, the sweltering heat in the summer and the draughty waiting rooms which are often colder than the platforms themselves.

Then there are the regular last-minute platform changes, escalators that go up from the platforms but not down and the elusive search for platforms 12b and 4c.

These are all experiences, it seems which have been shared by travellers Britain-wide.

Computer generated image of the new-look New Street

A group on Facebook called "All the problems in the world are caused by Birmingham New Street" has attracted more than 200 members, although a similar group, "Haters of Birmingham New Street Unite" has collected just 16 people.

A comment on one of the groups says: "Hell hath a name and it is New Street".

Another asks if anyone else has found "that trying to find the platform you need at New Street is like trying to find the platform for Hogwarts?"

After years of campaigning by passengers, the city council and businesses, it seems the cries for an up-to-date station have been heard by the government.

'Tremendous news'

On Tuesday ministers announced they would be putting in almost 400m to make the 598m revamp possible.

The redevelopment, which is hoped to be finished in time for the 2012 Olympics, will see the size of the station concourse doubled and the number of escalators to platforms will increase from five to 31.

There will also be three new entrances to the station from the city centre, which are hoped to provide more stylish welcomes into Birmingham.

New Street Station
The station's neighbours have undergone radical developments

Those behind the project hope the extended station will be able to cope with twice as many passengers again and create an extra 5,000 jobs.

The future of the Pallasades shopping centre, which sits on top of the station, is still "under discussion" according to Network Rail, which owns the site.

When Conservative city council leader Mike Whitby took control of the authority three-and-a-half years ago he made the station one of his priorities.

He said that it had been "tremendous news" to hear the government's funding announcement.

"This is something the citizens of Birmingham can actually celebrate," he said.

"New Street Station has certainly served us well but it's well past its sell-by date."

New Street 598m revamp go ahead
12 Feb 08 |  West Midlands
New look for 'ugly' New Street
24 Jul 07 |  West Midlands
Shopping centre could be sold off
15 Jul 05 |  West Midlands

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