Over the years, many of Birmingham’s beautiful, historic buildings have been lost to the bulldozers.
New Street and Snow Hill stations were, until the 1960s, fine examples of classic Victorian architecture, with ornate facades and grand vaulted roofs. Both were demolished to make way for modern replacements that were never going to win any beauty contests.
The city’s third main train station – Moor Street – was first opened in 1909 and is the only one to have retained its original construction. Since its sympathetic restoration in 2002, passengers have grown to love its bygone charm, and the building is rightly Grade II listed.
No one wants to lose the affinity we’ve developed with the station, but passenger numbers are growing quickly, and with an iconic new HS2 station taking shape metres from the Moor Street concourse, we need a respectful plan to marry the old with the new, without losing the heritage we all love.
With a nod to the past, but with a firm eye on the future, the Moor Street Vision was born. Developed through multi-agency collaboration, the concepts are designed to increase capacity, link seamlessly with the under-construction Curzon Street and nearby New Street stations through a “One Station” approach, and open the station up to the south of the city towards Digbeth, one of the UK’s fastest developing neighbourhoods.
Led by West Midlands Rail Executive alongside Midlands Connect, Transport for West Midlands, Network Rail, HS2 Ltd, Chiltern Railways, West Midlands Railway and Birmingham City Council, we all have our own reasons for driving this vision forward, but the end goal is the same: we want to create a Moor Street station that’s fit for the future.
The current station concourse covers 910m2 – seven times smaller than the average football pitch. It carries seven million passengers every year, and that’s predicted to grow to at least 12 million by 2043 as commuter rail travel becomes increasingly popular.
Numbers could swell further when Midlands Connect’s flagship Midlands Rail Hub plan is realised, bringing 20 more trains an hour in to Birmingham from across the region. Our proposals will enable faster and more frequent services to and from Hereford, Worcester, the South West and the East Midlands, addressing the long-ignored issue of poor east-west rail connectivity.
Moor Street’s current size can’t support this projected growth. The vision – including designs from world-leading architects Grimshaw and Glenn Howells (who also designed the HS2 Curzon Street plans) – proposes a doubling of the concourse footprint, with a new transfer deck to access platforms, a bridge to Curzon Street, a new southern entrance to reduce overcrowding and two more platforms to allow for extra train services.
Moor Street’s redevelopment will be transformational, but the extra train services it allows for can only arrive in to the station with associated upgrades to the tracks. The Midlands Rail Hub proposes interventions including new track and passing places, minor electrification, improved junctions and signalling, both within Birmingham and across the surrounding network.
As with all redevelopment plans, we have work to do to turn the vision in to reality. Further feasibility and funding options need to be explored, and complementary track upgrades must also be secured.
One thing we do have is a clear timescale to work towards. Curzon Street will open to HS2 services in 2026, and at least eight major housing, retail and commercial developments are taking shape within a kilometre of Moor Street. The time to take action is now.
With New Street and Curzon Street, Birmingham has put its train stations at the centre of the city’s unprecedented regeneration. Moor Street has a great opportunity to join them, and play a part in Birmingham’s future, as well as its past.
About the Author
This post was written by Maria Machancoses. Director of Midlands Connect