Rail advice to Christmas shoppers

Passengers advised to plan their travel as Birmingham gears up for festive crowds.


With Birmingham’s famous Christmas market starting today and the number of visitors to the city set to increase over the festive season, train companies are urging passengers to plan their journeys and allow more time to catch their trains at Birmingham New Street.

Millions of people visit the city and market every year, putting increased pressure on the rail network. This year the Christmas market runs until Christmas Eve, is closed on Christmas Day and then reopens on Boxing Day until 29th December. Combined with the seasonal increase in shoppers, it helps to create one of the busiest times of the year in Birmingham.

The average number of passengers who use the station every day is 170,000 but this increases to an average of more than 180,000 each festive period and this year is expected to be no different.

While there is more space than ever inside Birmingham New Street, crowd control measures may still be in use at busy times to safely access the 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 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.

“Last Christmas was the first with the new concourse which made a big difference to passengers using the station. However, while there is more than enough space to handle the expected crowds, 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 always allow for 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 Cavender, general manager for Virgin Trains, added: “The run up to Christmas is always an exciting and busy time. With so much to see and do in Birmingham we would encourage anyone looking to travel by train to plan ahead, leaving a bit of extra time and of course book their tickets in advance to guarantee themselves a seat and avoid any queues at the station. Our team at New Street, working closely with Network Rail, will be on hand to say hello and ensure a smooth passage through the station.”

London Midland’s West Midlands general manager, Mark Goodall, said: “We want everyone to have a good time visiting the shops and attractions this Christmas. We will be doing everything we can to help, including running extra carriages on the Snow Hill lines on the four weekends leading up to Christmas. Just remember, this is a busy time of year for everyone, so make sure you know your travel options and don’t rely on your last train home or you could be disappointed.”

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 2nd January which may affect journeys. Passengers can plan their Christmas travel at www.nationalrail.co.uk/christmas.

For the latest information regarding rail services visit www.nationalrail.co.uk; for specific Birmingham New Street station information follow @NetworkRailBHM.