Rail passengers urged to plan travel over bumper weekend

Birmingham gears up for Black Friday crowds.

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.”

London Midland’s general manager for the West Midlands, Mark Goodall, added: “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.”

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.”

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 24th December and 3rd 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.