The redevelopment and expansion of the University Station will allow it to meet the increasing passenger demand. Credit: West Midlands Combined Authority.
The new University station is expected to be completed by the end of 2021. Credit: West Midlands Combined Authority.
The new station will have a wide canal footbridge. Credit: West Midlands Combined Authority.

One of the busiest railway stations of England’s West Midlands region, the University Station in Birmingham, UK, is being redeveloped into a larger and modern station to be able to handle 7.2 million passengers a year.

The project will also support regeneration activities in the area and provide improved access to the rail network. The existing station building will act as an exit for passengers coming from the new station.

The new University station is expected to be completed by the end of 2021 in time for the 2022 Commonwealth Games when Birmingham University will play host to hockey and squash.

The new station design was unveiled in July 2019, while planning approval from Birmingham City Council and funding confirmation from the Department for Transport were received in July 2020.

Need for redeveloping the University Station

The existing University station was opened in May 1978. Designed to accommodate 500,000 passengers a year, the station currently serves approximately four million passengers a year.

The number of passengers is expected to further increase to exceed seven million passengers a year by 2043, due to planned upgrades to regional rail services and the opening of High Speed Two (HS2).

The growing number of passengers is a result of the expansion of the University of Birmingham, the development of the University Hospital Birmingham, and the continued regeneration of the surrounding area.

New University station location and design details

The new University station is located at the site of the historic Roman Metchley Fort, a scheduled ancient monument. It will be located close to the existing station and will include improved facilities such as more lifts, a ticket office, retail options, and public toilets.

It will feature a landscape design that will reflect the historical importance of the site and provide fresh insights for visitors to the public plaza. The design prioritises legibility and pedestrian connectivity.

Facilities at the new University Station

The facilities to be added as part of the redevelopment are expected to support future rail growth and enable the station to serve as a gateway to the hospitals and university campus.

The width of the platforms will be doubled to enable improved movement of passengers during peak times. The platforms will have canopy coverage for protection from sun and rain.

Station platforms will be connected by a wide canal footbridge to provide direct access across the canal to the university’s Edgbaston campus.

The redeveloped station will have enhanced public space to connect the station with existing bus stops and hospitals and allow passengers to continue their further journeys by bike, bus or taxi.

The plan includes a multimodal hub and will accommodate a bus interchange and a car parking area, along with pedestrian and cycle routes. The proposed central plaza will be able to host events and gatherings.

Funding for University Station redevelopment

The £56m ($71.1m) University Station redevelopment project is being overseen by West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE) and Transport for West Midlands (TfWM). The project cost will be met through funding from different entities, with the University of Birmingham making a significant contribution.

Other funding partners include the Birmingham City Council, Network Rail, West Midlands Trains, Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and the Department for Transport.

Contractors involved

The project is designed by Associated Architects in collaboration with Mott MacDonald and Node.

The design team was supported by West Midlands Railway, Network Rail, the University of Birmingham, Canals and River Trust, and Historic England.

VolkerFitzpatrick was contracted to deliver the detailed design and build of the new station in November 2020. SLC and AECOM were appointed to provide project engineering, design, and commercial support on behalf of WMRE and TfWM.