Well, they sort of made it, switching over to the new concourse on Sunday 28 April. I went along mid afternoon expecting chaos – long queues and flared tempers. But no, everything appeared to be going well. In fact I am minded to say “Well done contractors and Network Rail!” It can’t have been easy to achieve on the date declared some time ago.
Inside there were lots of officials, both employees and volunteers I understand, to guide people around the cavernous concourse..
In spite of this one or two were still confused about which direction to go in.
Actually I’m not surprised as this took place in the old Pallasades shopping centre, and getting to the station without going outside to the new entrance requires a walk of surprising distance along 4 corridors which are decorated all the same – white!
Actually, these helpers were doing a great job, no doubt having to deal with complainers as well as those who have decided that any rough bits are unavoidable if the station has to stay operational during it being pulled apart, shuffled and stuck back together again.
As I feared in previous reports on progress, the outside was nowhere near finished In fact the number of stainless steel panels fitted does not seem to have increased in the last month. Is there a problem with them?
But, walk through the entrance doors and the scene changes to a different world – little sign of a building site here. The overriding impression is one of space and brightness (everything is finished in white) unlike the old concourse.
The shops in the centre have all opened. The escalators to the B (east) end of platforms are still fed from the original corridor which still contains the shops, pubs and cafés eg The Shakespeare pub which can be seen in photo 7 below. This is a second half conversion.
None of the ticket barriers were in operation, so I imagine increased ticket checking on the trains will be in place. Escalators to the A (west) end of platforms are in the completed section of the station. Here are large rest areas with catering counters and a Virgin Trains First Class Lounge.
Going up the escalators from the concourse you enter the series of white-walled corridors leading to the old Pallasades shopping centre (as mentioned above).
The feeder road and drop off point is now on the west side leading from Hill Street in the south to Navigation Street in the north. The south side also has steps to another entrance to the concourse and a ramp up to the car park above whilst the north side also has an exit from the car park.
Below is a plan of the concourse level with numbered icons showing where photos were taken and with hat direction of view. The gallery below that has the photos corresponding to the map. To get the best out of this tour, click on the map which will open it enlarged in a separate window. Then either :
hover over a photo in the gallery to display the photo number
click on any photo in the gallery to step through an enlarged display of the photos.