I used to like Birmingham New Street Station for it’s simplicity. It had a big, wide corridor with excalators to platform level on one side and stairs on the other, and it wasn’t confusing at all.
Then came the Grand Central development, which involved spending millions to turn from a station with a shopping center above it, into a, and work with me on this, a station with a shopping center above it.
Did any of this development actually improve the the rail aspect of the station? No, of course it fucking didn’t as this was the era of praising almighty commerce and neglecting important transport services.
So, while the underlaying station platforms have seen little or no upgrade, the concourse level (and the level above, which I refuse to even contemplate) have become a fucking mall.
Ok, so the Pallisades was always a mall, but it was never integral to the station, and you could avoid it (unless you wanted somewhere to sleep on a Saturday night, after a clubbing sesh in Brum – I remember the corridors filled with bodies, like some grim apocalypic horror).
So now we have this confusing mess as the concourse level:
Above image © Network Rail, but as they are wholy owned by our government, and we own our government, technically I own that image, as do you.
Before I go on, just a quick note about the platform arrangements. All plaforms (except 4C) are through platforms. So, for example, 7A and 7B are the same lump of concrete. And most are grouped anyway, like this:
- 1A &1B
- 2A, 2B, 3A &3B
- 4A, 4B, 4C, 5A &5B
- 6A, 6B, 7A &7B
- 8A, AB, 9A & 9B
- 10A, 10B, 11A &11B
- 12A & 12B
Every platform can access every other platform, without hassle, if you only use the B end lifts, stairs, and escalators up.
Only last month, after arriving on Platform 4C, and heading for a connecting train on 8A, I was directed by staff to leave via the 4A stairs into the Blue Lounge, cross into the Green Lounge, and descend to platform 8A. So Ignored them.
And all was well.