New-look Wolverhampton Railway Station opens with first phase of £150m project complete
Wolverhampton Railway Station's new look was revealed to passengers as it opened to the public today.
The first stage of the £150 million upgrade of the city's train station has been completed as work to knock down the existing out-dated building starts from this week.
Officials admitted in all likelihood the train station would see fewer passengers initially with many people observing the lockdown, the Bank Holiday and people working from home.
But West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said the station would be ready to "seamlessly" support people travelling through the city and wider region.
Wolverhampton Council leader, Councillor Ian Brookfield, said a lot of hard work had been put in by all the partners on the station which aims to better link rail, tram and bus services.
He said: "The new station building will make a huge difference to the passenger experience and will ultimately provide a gateway to our city that we can all enjoy using and be proud of.
"There is more than £4.4 billion of investment on site or in the pipeline across the city, and the railway station development is a big part of how we are re-imagining and re-inventing our city centre."
Six ticket vending machines, new British Transport Police area, toilets, and baby changing facilities have been created along with three shops ready to be fitted out and train crew accommodation.
Due to coronavirus social distancing measures, a one-way system has been marked out at the station for people to follow and customers are being encouraged to buy their tickets online in advance if possible.
Mr Street added the new railway station was a crucial part of public transport plans for the West Midlands.
"Of course, at the moment, we are urging people to follow the Government’s guidelines and only use public transport if it is absolutely essential," he said.
"This means we are not expecting many passengers to see the new station yet.
"But this will all change when restrictions ease further and we begin to encourage people back onto public transport.
"Not only that, soon Wolverhampton commuters will be able to travel seamlessly across the region, with the West Midlands Metro extension along Pipers Row set to link to this new station as well as the existing bus station.
"The new station is a brilliant development for the city, and yet another example of how partnership working is benefitting the West Midlands."
Jonny Wiseman, head of customer experience for West Midlands Railway, said the new bright and modern building would bring huge benefits to customers
He said: "For now, the railway is reserved for only the most essential journeys but we can look forward with excitement to this superb facility serving the whole community for many decades to come."
Station signs have been installed and a clear pedestrian access route to the new station entrance will be marked out around the phase two works, which will begin immediately.
Contractors Galliford Try will strictly follow Government guidance on health and safety linked to the coronavirus pandemic in carrying out the works.
Phase two of the programme will see the demolition of the current station building and completion of the new build to house three more retail units, as well as a customer waiting room and help point.
The pedestrian subways at the rear of the station will remain closed until phase two has been completed, with a temporary pedestrian diversion route already in place via Wednesfield Road.
Steve Parry, Ion Development managing director, said it was pivotal moment in the delivery of the Wolverhampton Interchange.
He said: "The city’s railway station will be a gateway to the Black Country and will give us the opportunity of showcasing the results of the citywide investment and hard work put in thus far.
"We are delighted by the way the scheme has been delivered, with a superb team working across a range of partners."
Dave Penney, Network Rail central route director, said the new station would greatly improve future journeys for passengers travelling to and from the city.
He said: “It’s great that phase one of the transformation of Wolverhampton station has reached this milestone."
The new station building will be fully open in early 2021.
Partners from the Wolverhampton Interchange Partnership, which consists of Wolverhampton Council, Ion, West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), West Midlands Railway, Avanti West Coast, Network Rail, Midland Metro Alliance, Canal & River Trust, and Black Country LEP have worked on the project.