As Black Friday looms large and bigger crowds than ever are predicted in Birmingham, passengers are being advised to carefully plan their travel.
Last weekend saw record crowds passing through Birmingham New Street following the opening of the city’s famous Christmas market and this weekend is expected to be even busier.
Last year almost a quarter of a million people used Birmingham New Street on Black Friday, with the number hitting 258,000 on the Saturday, the highest ever number to have used the station in 24 hours. The record figures were prompted by Black Friday sales, the Christmas market and other festive attractions.
Train operators and Birmingham City Council have joined Network Rail in urging passengers to plan their journeys and check before they travel to help make their journeys as easy as possible. When catching trains home from Birmingham New Street, it’s vital to know the times of the last few trains and not rely on the last one.
While there is more space than ever inside Birmingham New Street, crowd control measures may be in use at busy times to safely access platform areas and trains. Extra staff will be on hand to provide assistance.
Patrick Power, Network Rail’s station manager at Birmingham New Street, said: “The Christmas market, Black Friday weekend and festive season are great for Birmingham but put significant pressure on the station to safely manage much higher passenger numbers and sudden surges of people trying to catch their train.
“While there is more than enough space to handle the expected crowds on the concourse, we have to be prepared to put queuing measures in place to get to the platform areas, should we need to.
“Our advice to passengers is allow extra time to make your train, don’t rely on your last service and check before you travel. There will be extra staff in place across the station to provide advice and information and help keep passengers safe.”
Phil Edwards, assistant director transportation and connectivity at Birmingham City Council, said: “With so much going on in Birmingham during the festive period as well as a number of ongoing transport projects and developments, the city is going to be very busy. It is therefore important to plan your journeys and allow plenty of time for travel. We recommend leaving the car at home and using public transport, walking or cycling as the best options for travel.”
Advice from the train operators which serve Birmingham New Street:
Natasha Grice, general manager for Virgin Trains in the West Midlands, said: “The train really is the best way to get into Birmingham and take in the atmosphere of the Christmas Market. Our team will be on hand to help the record numbers expected to attend this year and we’d encourage everyone to plan ahead to ensure they make the most of their day.”
London Midland's general manager for the West Midlands, Mark Goodall, said: “We want everyone to enjoy visiting Birmingham this Christmas. As trains are expected to be much busier than usual over the next few weeks, our advice is to plan your travel options in advance and don't rely on your last train home or you could be disappointed."
Cross Country’s managing director, Andrew Cooper, said: “Every year more and more people are using our trains to come to Birmingham for the Christmas Market and festive attractions. As before, we’ll be providing extra seats to help, but would urge everyone to plan their journey in advance and not aim to catch the final train of the day as these will be very busy.”
Lynne Milligan, customer services director at Arriva Trains Wales, said: “Birmingham Christmas market is a real highlight for visitors, many of whom are customers on our services.
“We will be working hard to ensure as many trains as possible are in operation, however some services are likely to be very busy so we would urge customers to plan their journeys carefully in advance to ensure they enjoy the festivities.”
Advice from the train operator which serves Birmingham Moor Street and Snow Hill stations:
Alan Riley, customer services director at Chiltern Railways said: “There is always a very special feeling in Birmingham at Christmas. With so many things to see and do, the city attracts many people and we look forward to welcoming all via Birmingham Moor Street station. There will be times when the station is busier than usual, so we do ask that customers plan ahead and leave extra time to complete their journeys.”
Passengers are also being urged to think ahead and plan their journeys if they will be travelling over Christmas. As part of its Railway Upgrade Plan, Network Rail will be carrying out a significant amount of improvement work across Britain between 24 December and 3 January which may affect journeys.
This includes track and signalling upgrades in the Birmingham area which will affect trains between Birmingham and Wolverhampton, a bridge replacement between Rugby and Stafford and track renewal between Northampton and Rugby.
Passengers can plan their Christmas travel at www.nationalrail.co.uk/christmas; for specific Birmingham New Street station information follow @NetworkRailBHM or check with your train operator.
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Since 2007, London Midland has been providing train services to and from London in the south, to Birmingham in the Midlands and Liverpool in the north-west. Over 70 million passenger journeys a year are made using on the network and London Midland manages 150 stations and operates 1,300 services a day.
London Midland is owned by Govia, the partnership between the Go-Ahead Group and Keolis. Govia is the UK’s busiest rail operator, responsible for nearly 30 per cent of UK passenger rail journeys through its three rail companies, GTR (which includes Gatwick Express services), Southeastern and London Midland. Further information on Govia is available at www.govia.info
London Midland has won a range of awards, including Best Local Transport Integration, five Rail Business Awards for marketing, public relations and customer information, five Golden Spanner Awards for Engineering, three IOIC awards for internal communication and five Railstaff Awards for Outstanding Customer Service, Lifesaving and Charity Work. In 2017 London Midland was named as Britain's most improved train company by the Institute of Rail Operators and the UK's most improved organisation for customer service in the UKCSI survey.
In 2017 London Midland was also awarded the Investors in People (IiP) Gold Award and the 5 Star award by the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) in 2014. Achievements for working with communities recognised with an International Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) award (2017), an HR Excellence award for Best CSR Strategy (2017) and five national Community Rail awards (2017).