Design work starts on link between Birmingham rail stations and planned HS2 hub

Councillor Angus Adams, Centro, and Dav Bansal, director at GHA, at Moor Street station

Plans are being drawn up to make it easier, quicker and more pleasant to travel between two of Birmingham’s key train stations and the emerging Eastside district, site of the city’s future high speed rail hub.

Centro, the region’s transport authority, has appointed city architects Glenn Howells Architects (GHA) to develop detailed proposals for a high quality link between Eastside, Moor Street Station, New Street Station and the wider city centre.

More than one million passengers travel the route each year but Centro and the city council hope to create an interchange between the two stations and the high speed (HS2) hub that gives the feel of being in one connected station.

The close proximity of the three sites is seen as a key advantage with the entrance to the high speed rail hub due to be built right next to Moor Street Station, itself a short walk from New Street. The interchange link is likely to include a high quality pedestrian route and cycling features. Artistic lighting and possibly public art features are also likely to be looked at.

The appointment of GHA comes hard on the heels of the Government’s go-ahead last month for the £17 billion HS2 route between London and Birmingham. It also follows the publication of the Eastside Masterplan in which GHA was also closely involved.

Cllr Angus Adams, Chairman of Centro, said: “Our objective is to improve the quality of the city environment for pedestrians and make changing between different types of public transport safe and attractive.

“This specific programme of work is just part of the first phase of our strategic vision for making it easier, quicker and more pleasant to move around the city centre.”

The detailed design phase will look at improving the St Martin’s Queensway Tunnel which runs under the Bullring shopping mall and forms a major part of the route between the New Street and Moor Street stations. A planning application for the scheme is expected to be submitted later this year.

Dav Bansal, director at GHA, said: “Citywide thinking – which started with the launch of the Big City Plan – provides a huge opportunity to repair the urban fabric of the city centre. Taking the first step with Centro to develop these detailed proposals is another milestone in Birmingham’s continued regeneration and follows on from the practice’s work on the Eastside Masterplan.

“This project, alongside those that have already been completed and those that are under way like The Gateway project, could significantly improve the experience of our city and how it works. They can do this by providing clear and pleasant pedestrian routes between areas of the city centre as well as improving the public realm and overall environment.”

This project is part of Birmingham City Council’s “One Station” vision which involves creating better accessibility and connectivity between the stations. It also connects with the £600 million Gateway redevelopment at new Street Station and future phases will include a direct link into the high speed rail hub.

Founded in Birmingham more than 20 years ago and with offices in Birmingham, London and China, GHA is also appointed by Argent on Paradise Circus and is working on proposals for the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas.

Both Centro and GHA are supporting Business Birmingham at MIPIM, the international property expo in Cannes, next month.

Transportation consultant Peter Brett Associates and civil and structural engineers Techniker are also part of Centro’s design team for this project.

 

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3 Responses to Design work starts on link between Birmingham rail stations and planned HS2 hub

  1. James Avery says:

    I was walking under the Bull Ring earlier this evening, and it really is shockingly bad. How on earth that complete eyesore of a tunnel, and the ridiculous attempt to look like a stadium on top got planning permission is beyond me!

    However, I’m still a bit confused:

    1) You talk of phasing of the “Gateway” development – surely this will be finished long before HS2 opens.

    2) The “One Station” concept should be welcomed, if it is a meaningful and much needed fixed link (ie travelator) between the stations from day 1. At least Birmingham City Council have acknowledged that Curzon St presents a weakness when compared with every other European regional city that has a high speed rail terminus. The DfT consultation talked of “might” – this isn’t good enough, it needs to be correct from the start.

    3) Talk of encouraging cycling between the two stations is pure tokenism. Firstly, we would need assurance that the high speed trains will carry bikes in the first place – many European trains do not, unless folded. Realistically, it is far more important to make Birmingham city centre an attractive destination for cyclists, and for each of the four stations to have ample secure parking.

    Let’s face it – Birmingham is in the Vauxhall Conference when it comes to cycling, with barely 1% of all journeys being made by bike. It is figures like this, combined with a complete lack of vision from either Centro or any of the West Mids councils (Coventry is little better at 2%), that make people like myself so cynical about what is being spent on hs2. Just one mile of new railway build could provide hundreds of miles of cycle routes, with the added bonus of health benefits that active transport provides.

    Even worse, there is no mention on any of Arups’ maps regarding provision of diversion facilities for either existing (Kenilworth Greenway), under construction (Kenilworth to Warwick University) or proposed (Coventry – 4 Oaks – Hampton in Arden) routes. Apparently the greenway is “abandoned”, when it very clearly is not!

  2. I think that there would need to be much more than simply making Birmingham attractive for cyclists (dedicated lanes, cycle parking, etc) and ensuring HS2 will take bikes (I would say the rule of thumb would be to see if intercity trains take bikes for example).

    Birmingham needs to encourage its residents to cycle not just encourage other cyclists to come to Birmingham. I think Birmingham could learn a great deal from London and its cycle hire scheme also they could advertise existing government schemes for loans to buy a bike.

    At the end of the day one mile could buy hundreds of miles of cycle routes, etc but those cycle routes can’t carry freight, they can’t carry thousands of people on low carbon transport for hundreds of miles between London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and so on.

    The key here is that the initial investment in HS2 is spurring additional investment in other transport infrastructure. Network Rail is investing in electrifying routes across the north west of England, money is being invested in local transport in a variety of cities across the north being spurred on by the go-ahead on the HS2 build.

    This is the issue I have with many public transport advocates: its always a case of pile the money into ONE single form of transport and screw everything/one else when the reality is that money needs to be spent on multiple routes, multiple forms of transport and so on which is whats happening.

  3. James Avery says:

    Prestwick – yes, I agree with your last paragraph, but every scheme has to fight for budget, therefore it is reasonable to suggest places not on the hs2 route will lose out, whereas schemes which help feed into hs2 – such as the Northern Hub will get pushed to the top of the pile.

    When I see complete dualling between Coventry and Royal Leamington Spa, with a station at Kenilworth, I will start to believe that places off the route are gaining too – unless of course this happens because a right turn is enabled out of Curzon St, and the dualling enables cross country routes to the south and west of Birmingham to join the route.

    As for cycling, you say “those cycle routes can’t carry freight, they can’t carry thousands of people on low carbon transport for hundreds of miles” – actually they can. For the so-called “last mile”, bikes can indeed carry shopping which might otherwise go in a car boot or by home delivery and as for low carbon, how about zero carbon with calorie burn too (obviously until the point that new calories are consumed to go extra miles)?

    As a minimum, the government should be saying that they commit to a complete parallel cycle lane along the hs2 route – not so much because a handful of people will use it instead of taking the train, but because it will ensure that routes between the numerous points along the route which would otherwise be severed are actually enhanced.

    This should cost about the same as one hs2 mile – I haven’t even seen the most ambitious cycling groups calling for much more than this (£1-2bn perhaps) across the whole country, as that is all it would take. Pound for pound therefore, cycling instrastructure is far better value than high speed rail, which even the DfT have said is carbon neutral at best.

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