Grand Central Station in Birmingham ???

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caravanman

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Things have been a bit quiet on the travel front for a few weeks, but I was invited recently to meet up with a lady friend in Birmingham.

Armed with my 33% discount railcard, I was able to buy an “off peak hours” day return ticket from Nottingham to Birmingham for £14.25, not too painful.

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A "Cross Country" train operating company, less than 50% wore now optional facemasks.
I put mine on after eating my sandwich and taking my photo...

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Birmingham New Street station has undergone an upgrade since I last visited, and I noticed a new sign outside: “Grand Central”, which seemed a bit naff to me. Nothing near as spectacular as the New York station!

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It is much more like NY Penn, in that one has to descend from an upper level to reach the platforms and tracks.

I didn’t take too much notice of the station interior, as I was just concentrating on meeting my friend.

Setting off from Nottingham at 10.40am, the train arrived to Birmingham just before noon. This route entails several minutes wait at Derby, where the train driver changes over to the other end of the train before continuing onward.

We were to visit Winterbourne House and Gardens, a short bus ride from the station.

The house was built in 1904, for a wealthy family, and it was designed in the arts and crafts style. William Morris type wallpapers, pewter and copper artefacts, as well as the wooden furniture decorated with typical leaf and natural forms.

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The gardens were extensive, and we both felt we deserved our cups of tea and slices of cake afterwards!

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Not the biggest adventure, but still a nice day out, in these covid times...
 

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JontyMort

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Messages
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Location
United Kingdom
Things have been a bit quiet on the travel front for a few weeks, but I was invited recently to meet up with a lady friend in Birmingham.

Armed with my 33% discount railcard, I was able to buy an “off peak hours” day return ticket from Nottingham to Birmingham for £14.25, not too painful.

View attachment 24024
A "Cross Country" train operating company, less than 50% wore now optional facemasks.
I put mine on after eating my sandwich and taking my photo...

View attachment 24025

Birmingham New Street station has undergone an upgrade since I last visited, and I noticed a new sign outside: “Grand Central”, which seemed a bit naff to me. Nothing near as spectacular as the New York station!

View attachment 24026

It is much more like NY Penn, in that one has to descend from an upper level to reach the platforms and tracks.

I didn’t take too much notice of the station interior, as I was just concentrating on meeting my friend.

Setting off from Nottingham at 10.40am, the train arrived to Birmingham just before noon. This route entails several minutes wait at Derby, where the train driver changes over to the other end of the train before continuing onward.

We were to visit Winterbourne House and Gardens, a short bus ride from the station.

The house was built in 1904, for a wealthy family, and it was designed in the arts and crafts style. William Morris type wallpapers, pewter and copper artefacts, as well as the wooden furniture decorated with typical leaf and natural forms.

View attachment 24027

The gardens were extensive, and we both felt we deserved our cups of tea and slices of cake afterwards!

View attachment 24029

View attachment 24030

Not the biggest adventure, but still a nice day out, in these covid times...
Interesting, Eddie. I believe that when the London & Birmingham and the Grand Junction jointly extended their lines (from side-by-side stations) into the new station in the early 1850s, the proposed name - probably a piece of marketing BS even then - was Grand Central, but it clearly didn’t catch on. The current Grand Central name dates from the refurbishment of the shopping centre above the station about five years ago. This is the second generation shopping centre - as with Penn Station, the air rights were sold in the 1960s. I have never been to NYP, but if and when I do make it, Birmingham New Street will be the benchmark. It is not, and never has been, in New Street, but to be fair it is at least in the centre of the city - not always a given in the UK.
Here’s a photo of the concourse taken at exactly 8.00 a.m. this morning. I know it’s a Friday in August, but even so we’re way off pre-pandemic traffic levels. I’m standing at street level. The shops are above, and the tracks below.
We’re off for a weekend in Glasgow, so will post some more photos if anyone is interested.
Best wishes,
Jonathan81E8EE2B-F5EF-4AFE-B7DA-E73DF1131E80.jpeg
 

caravanman

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Nottingham, England.
That makes more sense! I was astonished to see the huge "Grand Central" sign, far larger than an other signage, so assumed it was a new station name. Maybe non train buffs would not assume so?
Thanks for this mornings pic, I found the interior to be a bit dark and empty. I liked NY Penn station, but it was a bit of a warren. Not sure how things will change with the new passenger waiting hall located in the former post office now open.
Have a great visit to Glasgow, and yes, please post pics, we need more trip reports and pics in these less travel friendly times!
 

jiml

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Cross-Country interior shot didn't look like one of their ubiquitous Voyagers - a train many seem to dislike. Have they refurbished them or was it something else?

Slightly off-topic, but is the Grand Central operating company still in business there? Pre-pandemic their on-board experience looked pretty good and it was on my list for future travel.
 

JontyMort

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Cross-Country interior shot didn't look like one of their ubiquitous Voyagers - a train many seem to dislike. Have they refurbished them or was it something else?

Slightly off-topic, but is the Grand Central operating company still in business there? Pre-pandemic their on-board experience looked pretty good and it was on my list for future travel.
The train photographed by Eddie was a Class 170 DMU. Not as fast as the Voyagers but - as you suggest - more pleasant. The Bombardier Voyagers get the job done at 125 mph (where possible), but at a price. The underfloor engines are a real bugbear. If you are wise in the US, you will go for push-pull operation with locomotives and driving cars for the NEC.

Grand Central are still going, using 45-year-old High Speed Trains - these are what people prefer to Voyagers! - plus, I think, some of Alstom’s Class 180 (these are horrible things, IMHO). I have never used them, merely because they serve the wrong part of the country for me.
 

JontyMort

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United Kingdom
That makes more sense! I was astonished to see the huge "Grand Central" sign, far larger than an other signage, so assumed it was a new station name. Maybe non train buffs would not assume so?
Thanks for this mornings pic, I found the interior to be a bit dark and empty. I liked NY Penn station, but it was a bit of a warren. Not sure how things will change with the new passenger waiting hall located in the former post office now open.
Have a great visit to Glasgow, and yes, please post pics, we need more trip reports and pics in these less travel friendly times!
Oh well, if you insist…

Leaving Birmingham on a local train, we change at Crewe to a Pendolino - that had come from London - for the rest of the trip to Glasgow. I should have got a picture of the roof at Crewe, which needs some TLC, but Preston is looking fit for purpose.

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The stop at Lancaster was so short the I daren’t get off to photograph what I wanted - the memorial to Joseph Locke, who engineered almost the whole of the line north of Stafford (Robert Stephenson having done the rest, including the original London & Birmingham). It’s a sobering thought that the three early giants of railway building - Stephenson, Locke, and Brunel - all died within a year in 1859/1860, none having reached the age of 60. They basically worked themselves to death.

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As the next shot shows, we’re now definitely in the north of England. That viaduct no longer carries trains, though.

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Carlisle Citadel station has a fine overall roof. Carlisle may best be described as a place originally designed to keep the Scots - or, depending on your point of view, the English - out. But in UK practice it is unusual in having had a joint (“Union” being a usage that never made it over here) station from the outset. The main partners were the London & North Western and the Caledonian - together forming the route from London to Glasgow (and a route to Edinburgh to rival the Great Northern/North Eastern/North British) - but the Midland, North Eastern, North British, and Glasgow & South Western all had running powers (aka trackage rights).

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This piece of typical lowland Scottish landscape is of little interest - a view apparently shared by Mrs JM - but it is more poignant for US readers when you know that the train has just passed through Lockerbie. Note the somewhat shallow windows on the Pendolinos - not quite Amfleet, but they have been criticised.

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Beattock Summit comes at the end of many miles of 1% grade. With electric traction, you sail up as if the gradient were not there, but the line must have been very hard to work with steam, considering the heavy traffic.

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Glasgow Central is the end of the line - 400 miles, and well under five hours, from London. The station has been well restored to its early 20th century state. The buffer stops are behind me.
 

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caravanman

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Thanks for the info, you are a lot more knowlegable than me to answer questions!
I do like the old station roofs, I think St Pancras is magnificent with that soaring 1800's ironwork still doing it's job so well today.
 
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JontyMort

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Thanks for the info, you are a lot more knowlegable than me to answer questions!
I do like the old station roofs, I think St Pancras is magnificent with that soaring 1800's ironwork still doing it's job so well today.
It’s stunning since the refurbishment to take the Eurostar service. It was in serious need of TLC before that, though the old Shires Bar was OK - remember that?
 
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JontyMort

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What about this scenery automatically marks it as northern England, asked the New Mexican desert rat?
In a word, the hills. South of Lancaster the line avoids any hilly areas. North of there, the engineering challenge was to get from Lancaster, at sea level, to Carlisle, also at sea level, in the space of about 65 miles, rising up to about 1,000 feet in the middle. Which doesn’t sound much now, but was in the 1840s. Robert Stephenson’s London & Birmingham had nothing steeper than 0.3% (apart from the first mile out of Euston, which was originally cable-worked). Joseph Locke had more confidence in the ability of locomotives to climb hills, so his line over Shap has a ruling grade of 1%. In steam days, most if not all trains would have had bankers (US “helpers”) on these sections.
 

Barb Stout

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In a word, the hills. South of Lancaster the line avoids any hilly areas. North of there, the engineering challenge was to get from Lancaster, at sea level, to Carlisle, also at sea level, in the space of about 65 miles, rising up to about 1,000 feet in the middle. Which doesn’t sound much now, but was in the 1840s. Robert Stephenson’s London & Birmingham had nothing steeper than 0.3% (apart from the first mile out of Euston, which was originally cable-worked). Joseph Locke had more confidence in the ability of locomotives to climb hills, so his line over Shap has a ruling grade of 1%. In steam days, most if not all trains would have had bankers (US “helpers”) on these sections.
One thousand feet sounds like a lot to me, if I think of it in terms of walking.
 
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