Ok, so i may have caused some raised eyebrows on twitter the last week or two with my criticism of the new New Street station. It is nice upstairs yes, but it is a station and it would have been nice if that bit had got as much focus for the transformational aspect.
OK, first major issue is the air quality. This has received media attention now and rightly so (see http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on-news/channel-4s-dispatches-exposes-dangerous-10928734), with diesel trains parked up the smog is appalling and will choke anyone unfortunate enough to be waiting on the platforms and relying on the vile air. Nothing done on that front, awful passenger experience.
It is well known that no new track capacity was created for more trains. But while non-locals may think the station is fully operational after its grand opening last September, it is not. Nope, 6 months later platform 12 is still shut for building works and no platforms are completely finished. Navigation Street footbridge is still not connected to platform 12 and has now been shut for the last 3 months – and is shut until further notice. Which leaves us to rely on the escalators, ah the escalators famous for their regular failures – unless Network Rail just choose to shut them (often in rush hour) for a laugh 😦
It isn’t the lack of new capacity for trains that really bugs me. It is a magnificent temple for the modern railway on the concourse but downstairs it still treats the farepaying passenger like crap, in fact it fills our lungs full of crap which could have been dealt with. It could have put a much greater emphasis on the passenger experience – for goodness sake it could at least have been declared open upon true completion. Aiming for completion in time for the grand September opening by sorting out the shopping centre rather than the platforms was a telling admission.
And i have written elsewhere on this site about the Birmingham CrossCity network deploying new underground platforms to create more capacity and more reliability through New Street station. Perhaps a phase 2 New Street mega-project might be considered that really transformed the passenger experience for rail users?