New Street project 'blown away' by design

Peter Pilsner, the BBC's Midlands Transport Correspondent, has met those involved in the New Street Station project and reports for Rail Professional on how the design's have 'blown away' those involved in the project; Changing platforms.

As Pilsner notes, the new images are the fourth set of concept designs and as Martin Chambers, Network Rail's Programme Director says, "people were questionning whether they would ever see of these sets of designs built.

Previous designs for New Street are shown below.

The examination process asked key questions. Were the designs buildable? Could they be afforded? Could they actually be maintained in the long-term? Chambers says: ‘What we didn’t want to do was produce a set of designs that are stunning on day one and then on day 500 they start to look tired and jaded. We spent a lot of time doing that, so our confidence level is very high and we are immensely proud of them.

The curvy designs of the new design reflect what Alejandro Zaera-Polo, principal architect from Foreign Office Architect calls ‘curvilinear geometry’ of the railway tracks and the need to reflect the movement that happens both inside and outside the station.

Pilsner's article also considers the complexity of the project with construction taking place in two phases, the first finishing in 2011 and the second in 2013, while also keeping the station in operation and work at the platform level continuing through both these phases. Once the first phase is open the second phase will begin which includes much of the current concourse.

There are also challenges such as bringing in materials to the city centre site and the complexity of the existing structure of the site.

‘We have to maintain a lot of additional systems right through the middle of New Street station. At the moment there is a service spine which basically dissects it in two from north to south. You have the eastern section, which houses the current concourse and the west section, which has an NCP car park. The service spine basically forms a wall between those two areas so we have to create a new spine within the carpark area and then transfer all the services into that new spine before we can cut that bit of the station away.’

One of the most visible displays of these challenges will be the extension of the Navigation Street Bridge, which currently only provides access to 10 out of the 12 platforms. A new section of bridge will be built to connect to the unconnected platforms with a section removed to allow for the new bridge which will widen the bridge from platform eight and nine to platform 12. Lifting this new bridge is scheduled to happen during a Christmas blockade in 2010.


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