Birmingham’s Cross City line is one of the most accessible rail routes in the country.
With its new lifts and upgraded footbridge, Sutton Coldfield will become the nineteenth out of 24 stations on the route to be equipped for step-free access, and work is already under way at two more at Selly Oak and Northfield.
Network Rail have been responsible for delivering the £2m project at Sutton Coldfield and local MP the Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development, has been given a tour of the improvements now in the final stages of completion at the station.
Network Rail’s route enhancement manager Gary Tordoff said: “Sutton Coldfield station was built in 1862, and is locally listed so we had to work closely with the planning authority and London Midland over the design of the facilities. This demonstrates what can be achieved by marrying old with ultra modern to the benefit of everyone who currently uses the station and to many more that we hope will now be able to use the railway either more easily or, in some cases, for the very first time.”
Nicola Moss, London Midland’s Head of Franchise Management said: ‘We are very pleased with the improvements at Sutton Coldfield station. The fully accessible facilities will really help our customers at this popular station. The £2m investment and collaborative working with our partners at the DfT and Network Rail is part of an ongoing commitment to providing step free access and accessible rail travel for customers on this route.
Cllr Tom Ansell, lead member for Rail and Metro on Centro, the region’s transport authority, said: “Sutton is a key station on the Cross City line and with demand for rail travel continuing to rise year on year this work is great news for passengers. It will make it much easier for anyone to go by train from Sutton.”
The station now boasts glass-clad lifts linked by an overbridge serving both platforms. To get from the lifts onto the platforms, Network Rail created new entrances by removing brick walls at platform level.
The original overbridge between the platforms was replaced by a new structure. Much attention was paid to the design as it was a condition of the planning permission that it had to look as close as possible to the original.
The bridge is constructed of steel with glass windows, but clad in glass reinforced plastic (GRP). Even this had to be imprinted with a wood grain effect. The flooring has a non-slip GRP surface and there are double-height handrails.
The staircases leading from the bridge onto the platforms have been completely refurbished, with repainted roof girders. They also have new double-height handrails and non-slip GRP stair treads.
Similar work has recently started at Northfield and Selly Oak stations and is expected to be completed next autumn.