Newest Review: ... forecourt area, there is a large travel information board helping you locate which platform your train will leave from and also informatio... more
Birmingham New Street
Birmingham New Street Train Station
Member Name: HelenW
Birmingham New Street Train Station
Advantages: Gets you places
Disadvantages: Most things about it
I am a regular user of Birmingham New Street station, so I'm going to put my experiences into this review.
First of all, the thing thats seems to confuse people is that it is on different levels. If you come into the station by going down the escalators from the Pallasades shopping centre, it seems you are coming down from ground level of the pallasades. But when you get down to the station, another set of doors give you ground level of outside the bullring. Also, you go down a flight of stairs again to get to the platforms, but you also come out into daylight when the train moves along from the platform. When I met one of my friends at the station, she was very confused by all the entrances and as to what level you are actually on.
This station is on the west coast main line and is the busiest of the Birmingham city centre stations (the others being Snow Hill and Moor Street). From Birmingham New Street you can pretty much get everywhere without too many changes etc. The station itself isn't that nice looking and is very run down (and was actually voted as an eyesore!), and there are plans underway to develop the station as user satisfaction rates are not that high.
When you are in the main part of the station, you can check train times on large departure boards, which show upto approximately half an hour in advance and update as trains leave. You can purchase tickets for that days travel at one of the 4 or 5 booths along the wall in front of you to the left. Or you can purchase advance tickets from separate desks, which require you to go through the glass doors at the far left and queue round those queue separator things. If you have pre ordered tickets, you can collect them from the big red machines, only I'm not sure how to use them as I don't tend to pre order them!
If you have time before your train, you can browse the shops in the station. In front of the ticket offices is a coffee shop, and behind that is a waiting lounge. Or to the right of the station is a small sandwich shop, a burger king, W H Smith, Millies cookies, M and S foodcourt, and should you need it, lugage place.
When you are ready for your train you make your way to the entrance to the platforms. There are no ticket barriers but there are staff there checking tickets, so after you have brought it don't put it away, and get your ticket out before you get off the train to come back into the station because people make annoyed noises if you hold the queue up rummaging through your bag! Been there, done that!
When you have gone through the barriers, there is a long corridor that runs the length of the station with flights of stairs leading down to the platforms, and a tv screen at the top of each flight with the current/expected train at that platform. On this corridor is the toilets (as long as you have a 20 pence coin to get in), you can't get to any before you go through the ticket part, if you need to, you need to go upstairs to the pallasades.
You go down the flight of stairs to the platform, and each has 2 parts, a part A and B e.g. platform 2a and 2b, except platform 4, which has a, b, and c. But platform C is usually trains to wolverhampton, and it is tucked away at the back (and difficult to find the first time you need to use it!). Each platform has the same tv screen that shows when the train is expected, how late running it is, and what type of train it is. There are usually people around to ask if you aren't sure, they walk round in the red jackets.
Small note: if you are making a journey with a change, make sure it has a good length of time i.e. half an hour or more, because I have missed my change like that. On one journey I had to change at Stafford, Chester and Crewe (late on a sunday night) but the train being late leaving New Street (for no apparent reason, even the conductor was confused when I spoke to him) I missed my change and my 3 hour journey took 5 and a half. The conductors do phone the next station to hold the train, but by the time I had got to Stafford, the delay at New Street had been so long that it had gone anyway.
Oh, and if you use this station, be prepared to hear a lot of: "I am sorry to announce that the .... hundred hours Virgin pendolino/arriva trains wales service to ..... has been delayed by approximately ....(insert a long time here). I am sorry for the delay to your journey." Or the most annoying one: "I am sorry to announce that the .... hundred hours Virgin pendolino/arriva trains wales service to ..... has been cancelled, please make your way to the front of the station for a replacement bus service". That one really annoys me!
Also, expect a change of platform about a minute before your train is due to leave.
Summary: for proof, check out the facebook group "all the problems in the world revolve around New Street"