New Street, Labour, HS2, electrification – lot’s going on!

Last week New Street station in the heart of Birmingham City Centre was finally revealed and it was worth the wait.  Now a true railway cathedral with epic volumes and a great big John Lewis attached, we finally have a station befitting its status as the busiest station outside of London.

It was telling that touring various transport meetings at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton, the railway discussions frequently focused on London termini – particularly London Bridge and Euston (problematic rebuilds) and Kings Cross and St Pancras (fabulous) – but seemingly forgot the rest of the railway network… except for the future national high speed rail network.

I cannot hide my delight at the appointment of Lilian Greenwood as Shadow Transport Secretary – a politician who gets transport and cares about transport and its wider social role.  Her commitment to HS2 (both phases of course…) and improving public transport for the benefit of users are absolutely right and I look forward to seeing transport policy develop in the coming months and years.

It was welcome news to see the Midland and Transpennine electrifications come back into play, although with delays now it appears.  My appeal for a West Midlands Crossrail network may take a while longer then to get funded then – now we have more passenger capacity at last at New Street, we need to work on the additional train capacity, with the deep level station surely a long term necessity to manage the growth in demand for rail travel (and the need for growing demand to be by rail rather than cars).  Given the length of time it takes to plan for the future, decide on a strategy and then make it all happen, I hope this will get onto the agenda soon!

Finally, it was sad to have to say farewell to Birmingham’s Parliament of Owls that have been our friendly companions for the last few months.  I will be there to say goodbye in a couple of weeks time with Claire and Camille, wouldn’t it be great to be able to buy one in the auction… 😉

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