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This report is the preliminary study that precedes the research study for the redevelopment of the Birmingham New Street Station. The report provides a comprehensive analysis for the study area. This is done by establishing the framework of institutional settings (context), relevant actors (process), and the situations (object) using Bertolini and Spit's (1998) planning triangle.
The context variables are introduced as limiting factors to object variables and process variables. It comprises of socio-economic factors and national planning system. The socio-economic factors can be initiatives for the redevelopment of railway stations. It is made apparent that having a clear understanding of the hierarchy of decision/policy making power and the regulation system is very important for analysing planning processes. Although national planning systems are generally perceived as limiting factors, it is suggested that it should be interpreted broadly as certain contextual limitation can initiate new possibilities and opportunities.
The process variables include participating actors, interests and intervening developments. For this study, urban regeneration has been described to function as a process variable. It often reforms the public policies and regulates the urban processes. The city of Birmingham is currently undergoing urban regeneration process (The Big City Plan), which also includes the redevelopment of Birmingham New Street Station. The redevelopment of the station is therefore greatly affected by the policies of the Big City Plan.
The object description is part of the analysis that precedes the redevelopment of the station. It provides an insight on the key issues of the current station. The conclusion of this analysis is that the station requires an immediate attention.
Analysis on the redevelopment project (Gateway Plus) has established that the new station with its increase capacity can accommodate the increased passenger growth. It does not however appreciate the underlying problem of need for greater frequency train services. It also does not respond to the problem that lies due to the effect of Eastside bottleneck.
The report concludes with methodology for the succeeding research study.
In a world that is constantly changing, an efficient system designed some time ago may not be the best choice of service today. The redevelopment of railway station is therefore required to compete against the rapid change of the surrounding infrastructures and new demands, and to improve upon the user experience.
According to the Office of Rail Regulations (2012), there are over 2500 railway stations in the UK rail network, and most of the stations date from the Victorian era. The rail industry has been focusing on restoring reliability and investing on new trains for past decade. Green and Hall (2009) recommend that the rail industry should now focus on its stations. They report that there are only two thirds of passengers that are satisfied with Britain's railway station. This has to be one of the fundamental matters of concern for the National Hub stations such as Birmingham New Street Station, as they not only provide railway services to the public but also represent their cities. DFT has now issued a Minimum Station Standards for each station category with mandatory requirement of at least 80% customer satisfaction (Green and Hall, 2009).
Until recently railway station redevelopment projects were largely restricted to London (Bertolini and Spit, 1998). The urban regeneration is increasingly gaining interest on cities outside London, such as Birmingham. Birmingham City Council has launched a very ambitious urban regeneration programme called "Big City Plan" in 2008. Birmingham New Street redevelopment plan is part of the Big City Plan and aims to revitalise the station and its surrounding.
Railway redevelopment projects comprise of a very complex set of processes. Such projects are heavily interlinked with several complex entities such as- social, economic and legal frameworks. It is therefore essential to understand who and how such systems are regulated.
Network Rail currently owns and operates most of the Britain's railway stations. It is regulated by government bodies such as the Department of Transport and the Office of Rail Regulation. Network Rail in partnership with several other parties has launched a redevelopment project (Gateway Plus) on Birmingham New Street Station. Opening in 2015, the new station is to provide an increased capacity and better user experience for the passengers.
There have been several comments made about the redevelopment plan being merely a cosmetic and that it does not increase the capacity. Arup believes that the Gateway Plus project only relieves the problem and does not have options for future development to accommodate the long-term rail passenger growth.
This study will focus on the factors that affect the railway redevelopment process. These factors are categorised into three different sections- Object, Context and Process. The Object section introduces the Birmingham New Street station and explains the need for redevelopment. In the Context section, detailed discussions are made on how the rail industry in the UK is structured, how it is regulated, and how it affects the redevelopment plan. The Process section explains the need of urban regeneration and discusses the future plans of Birmingham City Council for Birmingham. The report is to provide foundation for the research that follows. Therefore, the report will conclude with the statement of problem, and methodology and plan for the succeeding research study.
The objective of the report is to study the current Birmingham New Street Station, and to analyse if it needs the redevelopment. The report also reviews the redevelopment plan of the station (i.e. Gateway Plus), and suggests possible solutions to the problems.
The study area for this report is Birmingham New Street Station and its surrounding areas.
Although the great demand of redevelopment projects, planners and researchers consider the project of railway redevelopment to be challenging due to its complexity. Bertolini and Spit (1998) state in their book, "Cities on Rail, The Redevelopment of Railway Station Areas", the problem of rapid obsolescence of the information lies on such projects. The planning and development of such projects require long time and with the constantly changing surroundings, the knowledge gathered becomes out of date, changes or simply disappears. They therefore suggest the obvious benefit of exchanging information and comparing different railway stations to understand the full scope of the problem. The proposed solution would have to include a multi-focal, long-term process studied under several urban planning and management perspectives.
Redevelopment plans are driven by a complex set of initiatives such as promoting local and national economy, sustainable transportation, and business and property cycles. There is high tendency of capital flow in the metropolitan areas that are without border. The capital flow is usually dominated by the party that is the most competitive. Hence, the metropolitan area has to mobilise its potential to affirm its market position and for economic growth.
The planning triangle (Bertolini and Spit, 1998) can be used as a basis for establishing the analytical framework for the study of railway redevelopments. The triangle comprises of three components, namely object, process and context variables. The object variable is described as a substance of the problem (e.g. the area of interest and its surrounding features). Process variable include actors and their respective power in the planning system. The context variable is defined as a limiting factor of the object and process. Examples of context variable include be national planning systems and institutional conditions. Emphasis on any of the variables depends on the problems and the constraints of a project, and how the planner aims to approach them.
Figure The planning triangle
Context variable comprises of factors that control the object and process variables. Although often seen as a limiting factor for the other variables, it can be also be interpreted as opportunities. Certain contextual bodies issue mandatory regulations, and therefore can help initiate redevelopment programmes. Similarly, the need of socio-economic uplifting in the metropolitan area can provide initiatives to such projects. Therefore, it is of great importance to understand the contextual setting (such as institutional settings) in addition to the object and process variable.
Hoogerwerf (1995) (cited in Bertolini and Spit, 1998, p. 50) has established three ways in which the interrelationship between the context and the development can be understood.
Organisational perspective- where the behaviours of the participating bodies are studied to understand the development processes.
Network perspective- where the analysis is focused on how actors participating interact with one another. The pattern of their relationship is strongly associated with the variables that are acting in the processes.
The institutional perspective- where participating institutions within the context are understood to have association with the spatial development. In fact, the institutions are regarded to be the common entity for structural relations among the actors involved.
Process variable comprises of actors (such as railway companies), interests and intervening developments. According to Bertolini and Spit (1988), the concept of process variables is to understand who does what and when. So in essence it presents the overview of consequences for the area's development potential.
Object variables for this study are railway station and its surroundings area. The definition of railway station can often be seen to be based on the node-place concept. It is described as a geographical entity known to have dual identity- node and place. It can be called node due to the fact that it provides a point of access to railway services and other transportation facilities. It is also a part of the city providing transportation facility, which results in the concentration of infrastructure; hence it can also be interpreted as place. Knox and Marston (2003) (Cited in Lenferink et al., 2006, p.8) define a place as a cultural space; where this space can be socio economic space or cultural space.
It is stressed that, for complex planning projects such as the redevelopment of railway stations the context variables should take in all three perspectives. The multi-dimensional context variables should then be combined with object variables and process variables (Figure 1. Planning triangle) in order to obtain the full picture that is required for planning processes.
Bertolini and Spit (1998) explain three steps that can be taken to analyse the redevelopment of railway stations. First step involves acquiring a static picture by formulating the framework of institutional settings (context), actors (process), and the situation (object). Subsequently, the picture is set in motion in the second step. And in the third step, the whole process is analysed.
Context: External Influences
This section of study is based on the context variable derived from the planning triangle (Figure 1). The context variable comprises of factors that limit the object and process variable (e.g. national planning systems, the influence of social and cultural developments, local and national economic developments, and internationalisation) (Bertolini and Spit 1998).
Transportation is one of the key factors for the economic growth, and the railway stations play active role in promoting the railway services. An ideally placed station (node) can help the metropolitan areas boost their economy and dominate the market position. As introduced earlier it is important for cities like Birmingham (where capital flow is expected) to affirm their market position by mobilising its potentials. These are one of the factors that can help initiate such redevelopment projects.
The rail network covers almost all part of the UK and it is essential that the station has a good relationship with public to persuade people to use public transportation as oppose to the personal mode of transport. This also associates with the sustainable factor, which is one of the initiatives for redevelopment plans. If for example the redevelopment of railway station is able to create an iconic image, it can have a huge social impact in the surrounding areas and could be considered as a part of local cultural heritage.
National planning system
Network Rail Limited ("Network Rail")
Network Rail Limited is a statutory corporation and thus has no shareholders. It currently owns freehold of most railway stations in the UK, including Birmingham New Street Station. It is responsible for operation and maintenance of the station; hence proposal for any railway improvements require approval from Network Rail which includes "Station change" or "Network Change".
Working closely with its industry partners, Network rail plays a key role in development of Route Plans, Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) and Strategic Business Plan publication.
Network rail is regulated by Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) and is accountable under regulatory and contractual arrangements for the operational management of the network, and for coordinating the industry's planning. Figure 2 shows how Network rail is regulated.
Table Operating companies in London North Western region
London North Western
Train operating companies
First Great Western
London Overground Rail Operations Ltd
First TransPennine Express
Wrexham, Shropshire & Marylebone
Birmingham New Street
Liverpool Lime Street
Department of Transport & Transport for Scotland
Office of Rail Regulation
TOCs & FOCs
Specify and fund rail services in England, Wales and Scotland respectively
Regulates monopoly and health & safety (Independent of Government)
Train Operating Companies (TOCSs)
Freight Operating Companies (FOCSs)
Revenue from passengers and freight users
Operates, maintains and renews railway
Figure Illustration of how Rail industry in the UK is regulated
Network Rail has divided the UK into ten separate routes for local administration which offers them an efficient system of work with the train and freight operating companies. The ten routes comprises of Anglia, East Midlands, Kent, London North East, London North West, Scotland, Sussex, Wales, Wessex and Western.
Department of Transport ("DFT")
The Department of Transport is the government organisation responsible for the transport network (including the railway network) in the UK. As shown in the figure 2, the Department of Transport work closely with Office of Rail Regulation and plays a primary role in producing rail strategy in Britain's rail industry. It is also responsible for providing fund investment in infrastructure through Network Rail.
The department also acts as a franchising authority overseeing the passenger rail services provided by franchised Train Operating Companies (TOCs). Hence, in addition to the approval from Network Rail for any additional station in England and Wales, the proposal (if it is expected to be served by a franchised TOC) must also be approved by the DFT. Approval from DFT is also required if the third party proposal might in any way cause change in the specified service of a franchised operator.
Department of Transport (2012) has stressed its priority to be on the projects that aim to improve the existing rail network and increase capacity for better passenger experience.
Office of Rail Regulation ("ORR")
The Office of Rail Regulation is a non-ministerial government body, and the independent regulator for economic and safety of Britain's rail network. As a national safety authority, the ORR ensures that adequate measures are taken by the rail industries to achieve the health and safety benchmark. As an economic regulator, the ORR regulates Network rail and its funding, and ensures that the output results are as agreed.
The ORR is responsible for issuing and modifying licences that are required to operate trains and stations. It is therefore necessary to obtain approval from the ORR for any new station access agreements and for any amendments to the existing station. Hence, the proposal for redevelopment or refurbishment of railway station that may violate the previously agreed terms of a station access agreement must be approved by the ORR.
The principal roles of the ORR are to regulate railway industry to maintain the agreed standard of output, assist the mainline railway on long-term challenges, and to ensure that the incentives on parties, accountabilities and competition are reviewed and enhanced by taking appropriate measures.
Rolling stock companies
Franchised train Operators
Open access & freight operators
Management and maintenance of rail infrastructure
Provision of passenger and freight train services
Figure .The Office of Rail Regulation structure
Process: Urban regeneration
Cities overtime change and may become out-dated; thus require urban regeneration to establish itself back into the market position. The changes may be, for example, in economic base where a city could be gradually growing into service industries from manufacturing. With such changes, the new city could have completely different needs and the previously produced plans and infrastructures may not suffice the new necessities of the city. Unless appropriate measures are taken, changes such as the economic base transformation can cause physical and social problems such as- underused or vacant buildings and unemployment.
The city of Birmingham is home for many manufacturing and engineering centres but the city is gradually experiencing the market change. The city is slowly growing from the field of manufacturing to a service and research field of market. Please refer to appendix xx for information on economic challenges faced by the city of Birmingham during 1970s and 1980s.This as explained earlier will bring changes to the need of the city and it is important to revitalise the city's infrastructures accordingly to offset the effect due to market changes.
Urban regeneration functions as the process (in the planning triangle, figure 1) to reshape the system of analysis and policy making. Urban regeneration is often added into a public policy to regulate the urban processes (Couch, Fraser and Percy 2003).
Birmingham is currently undergoing an immense urban regeneration process. In February 2008, Birmingham City Council launched an ambitious project called "The Big City Plan". The plan aims to provide a clear physical framework that can help planners make long-term decisions. It is focused on the key issues of the city such as- innovation and skills, cultural diversity, connectivity, place quality and strategic decision making.
Birmingham New Street Station redevelopment plan is also a part of the Big City Plan and therefore it is important that the station redevelopment plan focuses on the key issues addressed in the Big City Plan.
Object: Physical environment
This section utilises the object variable from the planning triangle (figure 1) to explore the problem that lies on the area of concern, i.e. Birmingham New Street Station and its surroundings in this case. The object as introduced earlier comprises railway station which is understood to have dual identity- node and place.
Birmingham New Street station is the main railway station serving the Birmingham City centre. It offers local and nationwide rail services to its customers. It is estimated to offer its services to over 140,000 passengers every day (Network Rail, 2012).
According to Office of Rail Regulation (2012), Birmingham New Street station is:
Among the top 10 busiest railway station in the UK based on entries and exists, Year 2010/11 (ranked 10th). Although the recent drop on its rank, Birmingham new street station has been able to secure its top 10 busiest railway station position since 2008/09.
It is currently the second busiest railway station outside of London based on entries and exists, Year 2010/11
Among the top 10 railway station based the interchanges (ranked 6th).
Appendix 7.1 shows the station usage data throughout the UK based on the ticket sales as collated by Delta Rail.
Figure West view from the top of the New Street station building The station comprises 12 platforms running north to south, with the platform level below the ground level. The station operates most of its platform as segments, i.e. platforms are divided into "a" and "b". Please refer to Appendix 8.2 for the platform level plan.From above New Street Station
The node falls under the West Midlands rail routes, which incorporates primary and secondary routes. Secondary route provides local commuting services to Birmingham, and the Metropolitan centres of Wolverhampton, Walsall, Coventry, Sandwell, Dudley and Solihull. The station also provides its service to the primary route, which include one of the busiest mixed-traffic routes in the UK and Europe- West Coast Main line (WCML) (Project Mapping, 2012). Please refer to appendix 8.3 for detailed map. The WCML line runs from London Euston to Glasgow Central and connects London to Birmingham and the Midlands, Manchester and the North-west and Scotland (Network Rail, 2011). Train services are mostly run by Virgin Trains, CrossCountry, London midland and a few by Arriva Trains Wales (Project mapping, 2011). The node mostly receives and dispatches trains that run along the overhead lines that are electrified (at 25 kV ac) (Network Rail, n.d.). Electrified infrastructure is managed by Virgin West Coast, Freight Operators and Suburban Services. The line speed across the node is 40-45 mph (north-south line) and 50-60 mph (east-west line) (Network Rail, n.d.).
Potential passenger flow and interchange issues have been identified at this node. The Network Rail and The Office of Rail Regulation has put forward "Birmingham Plus project" to address these issues (Network Rail, 2012).
The place variable explores the physical attributes of the railway land such as walkability, connectivity and surrounding infrastructures.
Located in the Birmingham City centre, the New street railway land is within few minutes walking distance from Birmingham Moor Street transport node. There is a high concentration of retail establishments towards the North of the station, predominantly due to the presence of City centre high street.
Birmingham New Street Station building description
Figure .Station's link with nearby buildingsThe station was built during 1960s and the architectural design is rather unappealing to the public. With the air rights of the station sold to the Pallasades Shopping Centre in 1970, the station concourse lies below the Pallasades Shopping centre (Network Rail, n.d.). The underground platform therefore runs underneath the concourse and shopping centre.
The station concourse leads to the Pallasades Shopping Centre via stairs and escalators, and the main entrance/exit of the station building provides an easy access to the Bullring shopping complex. The station also has link bridge connection that allows its users to get to the Bullring shopping complex. The station building is linked to the Wades building (by link bridge, over Queens Drive) which is connected to Bullring shopping complex by Pallasades Bullring link bridge (over Smallbrook Queensway) (Wikimapia, 2012).
The main entrance is at the east part of the building and is served by Queens Drive. It leads to the City Centre Entrance Concourse. Two more entrances are available from car park- one entrance for the lift access and the other for car park users. Alternative entrance is available from the Navigation Street, which leads to the Victoria Square Concourse. A bridge offers a connection between Victoria Square Concourse and the platforms. Wheelchair users are advised to have an assistant when using this entrance.
Local and nationwide connection
Few minutes away from the area, Birmingham Moor street railway station provides London Midland operated local commuting services to Stratford-upon-Avon, Lemington Spa, Worcester Shrub Hill and Kidderminster. The station also runs Chiltren Railway operated service that runs from Birmingham Snow Hill to London Marylebone.
Travelling via train, Birmingham Airport is only one stop away from Birmingham New street station and the journey takes approximately 9 minutes.
Several bus stops are available at walking distance from the station.http://itoworld-nre.s3.amazonaws.com/stations/BHM/stops_large.27.png
Figure Nearby station bus stops
Figure Birmingham Railway network
Birmingham New Street Station: Present and Future
According to DeltraRail (2010), over 25 million passengers rely on Birmingham New Street Station annually as an access point for railway services. The station when built in 1960s, it was designed to the capacity of 60,000 passengers per day which is exceeded by more than double the capacity of the station (Network Rail, 2012). The passenger demand has been reported to have increased by 50% in the last 5 years (Birmingham City Council, 2006). Within next ten years, Arup (n.d.) expects of additional 28% increase in the number passenger at the New Street station.
The station has long suffered from overcrowding, particularly since 2000 due to the significant increase in the number of passengers. Overcrowding has threatened the station numerous times and has faced frequent closure of station because of the concerns over the safety of passengers.
Additional load is imposed onto the station due to the effect of bottleneck on the eastside. At this point all 12 tracks merge into 4. This causes trains to slow down and wait to be directed to the correct platform resulting into an inefficient flow of rail services. The problem can have its effect on the nationwide rail network when long distance trains passing through the Birmingham New Street Station are obstructed by local trains. This issue has been addressed as to become the biggest capacity constraints on the regional network in future x.
Figure .Eastside bottleneck.
Table Birmingham New Street Station one of the top ten Britain's busiest station.
Stations with the highest scoresÂ for passenger satisfaction
Britain's busiest stations
London Marylebone - 94%
1.Â Â Â Waterloo Â Â Â Â Â
London St Pancras - 94%
2.Â Â Â Victoria Â Â Â
York - 94%
3.Â Â Â Liverpool Street Â Â Â Â
Glasgow Central - 92% Â Â
4.Â Â Â London Bridge Â Â Â Â
London Fenchurch Street - 92%
5.Â Â Â Charing Cross Â Â Â Â Â
Sheffield - 90%
6.Â Â Â Euston
Liverpool Lime Street - 90%
7.Â Â Â Paddington Â Â Â
Manchester Piccadilly - 90%
8.Â Â Â King's Cross Â Â
Newcastle - 90%
9.Â Â Â Glasgow Central Â Â
Glasgow Queen Street - 89%
10.Â Birmingham New Street
Birmingham New Street Station has managed to secure its position in top ten busiest stations in the UK since 2009. Although the station is recognised as one of the major railway station in the UK, it has constantly failed to achieve high standard of customer satisfaction. Recent research carried out by Passengerfocus (2012) reveals a significantly low customer satisfaction rating of 64% on Birmingham New Street Station and stresses on the necessity of attention to resolve the issue.
Furthermore, the station has faced many negative criticisms on its design, accessibility, natural lighting and congestion. Walkover investigation has been done in the study area (New Street Station and its surrounding) and comments on the various aspects are given below.
The station design currently does not display an iconic image for one of the important British railway network hub. The building façade is aesthetically unpleasing and has been labelled as one of the worst eyesores in the UK (BBC News, 2003). The design looks out of place and does not fit with the surrounding infrastructures such as bullring.
File:Birmingham New Street stn building.JPG
Figure Birmingham New Street Station Façade
Figure Birmingham New Street Station platform
Figure Concourse concealing the platform With the station concourse almost completely sealing the platforms, the platform receives very little natural lights. This makes platforms very inefficient as they require artificial lighting 24 hours. Although provided with lights, the station suffers from dark and unwelcoming platforms. This raises an issue of passenger safety, especially when accommodating elderly and disabled passengers. Accessibility:http://farm1.staticflickr.com/129/400531554_99d8bf1c6c.jpghttp://farm5.staticflickr.com/4054/4388662250_43d3ca83f4.jpg
The main entrance to the station leading from Smallbrook Queensway is step-free but the entrance leading from Navigation Street has steps and has no disabled access. The main entrance is a direct access to the passenger concourse level.
The concourse size is relatively small in compare to other major railway stations. The concourse ceiling is also low and receives almost no natural daylight. The concourse provides a very poor vertical access to the platforms. The access to the platform level is provided by stairs and/or escalator. There are upward escalators available but they only provide access from section B of the platforms (currently serving 2-11b platforms). The stairs and escalators are very narrow and can only accommodate up to 2 passengers in a row. This particularly becomes an issue during the peak times as passengers tend to use both lanes of the stairs obstructing opposite travelling passengers. In addition to the discomfort to the passengers, this intervenes with the safety of the passengers.
Figure Stairs to the platform
Figure Narrow stairs and upward escalator http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/sjp/BHM/images/photos/800/o1214-0000404.jpghttp://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/sjp/BHM/images/photos/800/o1214-0000409.jpg
Future: The Gateway Plus
The Gateway Plus has been introduced to address the potential problems in Birmingham New Street Station. As mentioned previously, the station is currently facing a great challenge in accommodating its passengers. The new redeveloped station is expected to not only increase the capacity to meet the increased demand but also to give the station an iconic image for Britain's second city. This is the first major changes to the station since it was built in 1960s. The project is carried out through partnership of Birmingham City Council, Network Rail, Centro, Advantage West Midlands and Department for Transport (Network Rail, 2012).
Network Rail (2012) states that the project is able to offer:
Comfortable and spacious airport-style departure lounge, to reduce the congestion on the underground platform.
Expansion of concourse with provision of three and a half times more space.
Enhanced natural lighting in the station atrium with transparent domes.
Better connectivity between concourse and platform level-added escalators and lifts, and brighter and clearer platforms.
A landmark new station building and landscaped public areas, adding to Birmingham's growing reputation for good design.
Better links to and through the station for pedestrians with eight entrances.
A major stimulus for the physical regeneration of the areas surrounding the station.
The new station external façade features stainless steel with lightweight and self-cleaning ETFE dome on the roof to allow natural lighting into the station concourse and Pallasades shopping centre (Network Rail, 2011). Designed by Foreign Office Architects (FOA) and Atkins
Timeline of the Gateway Plus project (Network Rail 2012):
Table .Project timeline21
Preparatory work starts
Work starts to create the new concourse in the old NCP car park
Work to create the station's reflective steel façade begins
Construction starts on the new John Lewis department store
Phase 1 completion: New concourse opens when work will start to redevelop the existing station
John Lewis opens for business
Project completes. The station fully opens
Statement of Problem
Birmingham New Street Station has experienced significant growth in passenger numbers and Network Rail (2009) expects that the station will experience a continued growth of 120% in passenger number. Questions have been raised whether the newly designed station will provide enough long term capacity (Network Rail, 2009). The Network Rail (2009) aims to constrain this problem by improving the passenger handling capacity. The spacious station design however only alleviates the effect of passenger growth on the station, and it does not address the issue of higher demand for increased train frequency. Overcrowding would be more evident in platforms serving local and short distance train services as passengers tend to wait at the platform. Hence, increased concourse with airport-style departure lounge is expected to be used mostly by long-distance commuters.
The root of this problem lies at the bottleneck of the tracks on the Eastside as few opportunities for additional paths for incoming trains are available at peak times.
Report by CIRAS (2010, 2011) describes another problem that can happen when train passes over bottlenecks (or tight bends). CIRAS report "40987" and "50141" explains that the driver of Class 170 trains were compelled to perform re-coupling procedure because trains brakes are automatically applied when they go over heavy point work or tight bends. Solving this problem by enhancing the existing tracks is not feasible due to the foundations of nearby infrastructures such as Bullring shopping centre (West Midlands Regional Assembly, 2006).
PassengerFocus (2011) provided Network rail with their key recommendations for inclusion in the final Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS):
Maximise the capacity appreciating both current demand and future developments.
Understand and meet the requirements for greater frequency.
Improve accessibility and connectivity of the station.
Strategies to integrate other proposals for social and economic development in the region.
The proposed project (Gateway Plus) has the potential to help the station accommodate the forecasted increase number of passenger. However, the plan does not consider any option for future development and does not appreciate the necessity of demand for greater frequency. The passenger's first priority is clearly the journey itself, which is why it is crucial that the station has a solution to the increased demand for greater frequency.
Proposed methodology and plan
Several proposals have been put forward in response to the increased demand for better frequency railway services. The succeeding research study will focus on the possible solutions and will perform detailed analysis for the feasibility of the solutions.
Before studying any solutions, the station will be assessed for available track capacity. The main purpose of this analysis would be to conclude whether train frequencies at the Birmingham New Street Station could be increased without a loss of timetable. A dense timetable will be developed for the station to review the capacity of the railway network. Moreover, the station will be assessed for its robustness of a train schedule. With dense timetable, when the capacity is almost fully utilised there are virtually no buffer zone resulting in propagation of delay. Routing of trains (Herrmann, 2005) will be considered to prevent this. So essentially, the station will be assessed in term of its capacity and robustness.
Due to the availabilities of many switches in a station region, there are immense possibilities for train routes.
Consider feasibility of underground platforms!
Consider redirecting of rail services to Moor Street Station or the new Curzon Street station!