Express & Star

Birmingham New Street Station named worst station in the UK - here's why that isn't true

It's tempting to wonder if Birmingham New Street's critics have ever ventured beyond the M25.

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We all know New Street may not have the historical grandeur of a King's Cross or the charm of a Paddington, but does it really deserve the dubious honour of being crowned the bad boy of British stations?

The answer is 'no'.

The European Railway Station Index ranks 50 of the continent's largest train stations on the travel experience they provide, and Birmingham New Street hasn't fared well this year. But there are a few reasons why it absolutely can't be the worst station in the UK.

Firstly, let's talk about architecture. Birmingham New Street - with its twisting, swooping roof - is admittedly very modern and probably not to everyone's taste.

It might not have the glamour of some of its London counterparts, but at least you won't find yourself stuck in an endless sea of far too many people like you do at Euston.

Or have you ever been at Waterloo when there's a signal failure during rush hour? At least when that happens at New Street you're not sharing the station forecourt with half a million other upset customers.

It's actually quite nice inside.

Ozzy the bull on its forecourt, a by-product of an incredibly-well-hosted Commonwealth Games, is a pretty imposing sight too. It may not have the same impact as King's Cross' Platform 9¾ but it's a good photo op - and not many stations have those.

And the shopping and food on offer on its premises are second to none. It's like having one of London's Westfield Shopping Centres inside a station. The Grand Central complex is a breath of fresh air.

Ozzy the Bull.

Let's get serious for a second though.

When ratings stories like this hit the press, it's essential to separate hyperbole from reality and it's our job as local journalists to shed light on the numerous positive aspects that often go unnoticed.

Birmingham New Street Station, despite its critics, plays a pivotal role in connecting people and fostering economic growth in the West Midlands. And this is the real reason it's a good station.

It's significance cannot be understated. It's a major transportation hub that accommodates millions of passengers annually. Its strategic location makes it a central point for various train services, facilitating easy access to the vibrant city of Birmingham and its surroundings.

Without it, the Black Country would be economically disadvantaged in quite a major way.

The sheer volume of daily foot traffic is a testament to the station's efficiency in managing a large number of commuters and tourists.

These delays were actually caused by a power outage but it's a good image for this part of the opinion piece (Credit: Roxana Andrei).

But people don't consider the bigger picture or regional economies when they're thinking about a station's worth. They think about delays!

I'm prepared to admit that barely a day goes by when there isn't at least some kind of delay into or out of Birmingham New Street.

Unlike in London, there's a lack of viable alternatives in Birmingham when the trains go awry - and that can make delays seem more profound than they are. The trams might work for some journeys but certainly not for all.

If delays aren't the reason New Street's critics are having a field day, then I'm not quite sure what metric they used. Is it the lack of pigeons, the absence of quirky buskers, or the failure to replicate the ambience of a Dickensian novel like some of the stations in London?

Birmingham New Street is here to get you from A to B efficiently, and as a man who travels through it most days I think it does that just fine.

Overall, New Street might not win any beauty contests and like all stations in the UK, it's record on delays probably isn't great.

But it's a functional, bustling hub that keeps the Midlands moving. So, London, with your unpleasantly busy underground and stations that to be fair double as architectural masterpieces – maybe take a moment to appreciate the no-nonsense approach of Birmingham New Street.

It is the Midlands' link to the rest of the country, it has a giant mechanical bull as well as great shopping and food options. What more do you want from a station!?