Snow Hill project is hit by delay

A £17 million entrance to Birmingham's Snow Hill rail station that is not open years after it was meant to be finished, could cost another £155,000 a year.

A £17 million entrance to Birmingham's Snow Hill rail station that is not open years after it was meant to be finished, could cost another £155,000 a year.

The cost includes £76,767 that transport authority Centro must pay to Network Rail for its upkeep, even though it is new. The delay was criticised today.

Snow Hill is both a railway station and the terminus for the 23-stop Midland Metro between Wolverhampton and Birmingham.

Work on the Livery Street pedestrian entrance which consists of a subway and lifts, began in 2005 and was meant to be finished by 2007 at a cost of £10 million.

But the cost has soared to £17m after Surrey-based Bam Nuttall encountered problems tunnelling under the Victorian arches leading to the station.

Centro chief executive Geoff Inskip said: "We are pretty much ready in the physical sense but not in terms of legal matters."

And he revealed that it will cost £155,000 a year to run the entrance including cleaning and security as well as a £76,767 levy that has to be paid to Network Rail.

It is predicted that the second entrance will be used by 500,000 people a year.

But today there were demands for answers. Councillor Judith Rowley, who represents Wolverhampton at Centro, said: "This is a great white elephant. The snail's pace of the work beggars belief."

Centro is to take over ownership of Snow Hill station in 2014 when train operator London Midland's franchise ends.

The legal hold-up is because Centro has no enforceable rights to allow access for Midland Metro passengers to use the second access.

Mr Inskip said that once this was resolved the entrance would require a deep clean and would be ready.

The new entrance would enable pedestrians to access the station without having to cross Great Charles Street Queensway.

By Daniel Wainwright