Birmingham New Street Station is on one of the major rail routes linking the North and South of Britain. The station is on the main line from the South-West to the North linking places like Penzance and Bristol to Edinburgh and Liverpool. As well as North-West to South linking Aberdeen and Bournemouth. This makes it a major travel link and an extremely busy Station.
The station is built under a main car park, and the Palisades shopping centre. There are only two lines going in and out of the station (The station itself has twelve platforms) and they are so encased in the local infrastructure that the possibility of expansion for further lines in or out is impossible. This makes Birmingham a huge bottleneck as trains can be delayed just outside the station waiting to be directed to the correct platform and delays just cause the system to become congested. In addition to this the main lines are also used by the local trains going between Redditch and Lichfield. This means that fast trains going through Birmingham suddenly slow up (especially on the South side of the city) as they are stuck behind local trains going into New Street.
The main station is at street level and the platforms lie below this on a lower than ground level The Station has twelve platforms (running roughly running North to South). Platforms 1 and 12 are individual platforms, whereas the others are island type platforms. Each platform is split into A and B areas. All have stair and elevator access from the main station except platforms 1 and 12 which only have stair access. There are also lifts which serve platforms 6-7 and 8-9 and subway access for wheelchairs. In the main station there is a large corridor along which the stairs to all the platform levels are branched off. Along this corridor are the public toilets (twenty pence), a café, and the bar. In the middle of the corridor is a ticket gate which leads out into the large ‘entrance area’ of the station. In this area are the arrivals and departures boards as well as ticket sales, an information office and a small waiting room. There are some shops and food places including a Burger King, W H Smith, a coffee bar and a Millie’s Cookies. There are three main ways into the station, I will describe them as if looking from the inside of the station. On the right there are a series of automatic glass doors. These lead out to a short stay car park, and facing the Bullring shopping centre. On the left there are some similar doors leading to roughly the same area, however here there is a taxi rank, and travel offices. In the centre there is a set of stairs, and some escalators. These lead out to the Palisades shopping centre above from which you can access the main shopping areas.
If you are travelling any distance by rail in England, you are likely to have to pass through Birmingham New Street. Try to avoid it at busy times or when people are returning from a football (soccer) match as you may get caught up in some trouble and if you want to use the main travel information office allow plenty of time as it gets very busy. In my opinion it does not give a good first impression to anybody who has not been to the city before, so try not to judge too much when you get there. Avoid the people who linger around the station, and I wouldn’t advise buying anything from the Burger King (unless you have to). I tend to spend too much time there on my travels, but it reminds me of home.