Why did the 1987 rebuild of Birmingham Snow Hill have such long platform?

Status
Not open for further replies.

gg1

Member
Joined
2 Jun 2011
Messages
1,006
Location
Birmingham
One oddity of the current Snow Hill station is the fact the platforms look capable of accommodating 12 coach trains, far in excess of what's ever been required, this has been the case since re-opening back in 1987.

Does anyone know what BR's thinking was behind this decision? The only 2 possibilities I can think of are:
  • An aspiration to one day run full length HSTs or loco hauled Inter City services
  • When the link to the Stourbridge line is reopened (which eventually happened 7 years after the Snow Hill re-opening), to operate the station as essentially a pair of terminii, with Leamington/Stratford services terminating at one end of the station and Stourbridge services at the other
The 1st option seems rather unlikely and the 2nd one is just silly, integrating the 2 routes as actually happened is the far more logical solution.
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

zwk500

Established Member
Joined
20 Jan 2020
Messages
2,512
Location
Milton Keynes
Could it be as simple as just having the space available so it made sense to safeguard the length for future use? There may not have been a clear intent to use the capacity.

Only other thing I can think of would be to provide emergency cover for Bristol-New St and London-New St, although London trains would need to start from Paddington which wouldn't happen without prior notice.
 

adrock1976

Established Member
Joined
10 Dec 2013
Messages
3,740
Location
What's it called? It's called Cumbernauld
Could it be as simple as just having the space available so it made sense to safeguard the length for future use? There may not have been a clear intent to use the capacity.

Only other thing I can think of would be to provide emergency cover for Bristol-New St and London-New St, although London trains would need to start from Paddington which wouldn't happen without prior notice.

Regarding covering for London - New Street, could the trains have run from Euston via Willesden Junction, Acton Main Line, Greenford, and High Wycombe instead of from Paddington?
 

gg1

Member
Joined
2 Jun 2011
Messages
1,006
Location
Birmingham
Could it be as simple as just having the space available so it made sense to safeguard the length for future use? There may not have been a clear intent to use the capacity.
That seems unlikely, if you just want to allow for the off chance longer platforms could possibly be useful at some point in the future, the more cost effective option would be to build shorter platforms but retain sufficient track spacing to allow for a future extension.

Only other thing I can think of would be to provide emergency cover for Bristol-New St and London-New St, although London trains would need to start from Paddington which wouldn't happen without prior notice.

That sounds more plausible.

Although as I'm typing it another possibility occurred to me, perhaps the project ran under budget and it was a case of 'use it or lose it' for the now surplus funds.
 

zwk500

Established Member
Joined
20 Jan 2020
Messages
2,512
Location
Milton Keynes
Regarding covering for London - New Street, could the trains have run from Euston via Willesden Junction, Acton Main Line, Greenford, and High Wycombe instead of from Paddington?
I suppose they could have. It might have made it more awkward getting the diesels onto the front of the train with crews who knew the Western though.
 

Dr Hoo

Established Member
Joined
10 Nov 2015
Messages
2,748
Location
Hope Valley
I stand to be corrected but vaguely recollect that when Snow Hill was first re-opened there were no stock sidings. Therefore some 'spare' units could be held in the long platforms 'on the stops', e.g. between the peaks.

A couple of sidings were added later, making this tactic un-necessary. Obviously when the station became part of a through route the concept could no longer apply.
 

Ianno87

Veteran Member
Joined
3 May 2015
Messages
15,199
In a similar vein, Manchester Victoria (re-built 1994) and Manchester Airport (opened 1993) were provided with generous platform lengths relative to the stock then in use. Operationally invaluable now, of course!
 

zwk500

Established Member
Joined
20 Jan 2020
Messages
2,512
Location
Milton Keynes
I stand to be corrected but vaguely recollect that when Snow Hill was first re-opened there were no stock sidings. Therefore some 'spare' units could be held in the long platforms 'on the stops', e.g. between the peaks.

A couple of sidings were added later, making this tactic un-necessary. Obviously when the station became part of a through route the concept could no longer apply.
That seems right - I've got an early 90s quail that shows no sidings and all 4 platforms as dead ends. The current sidings are on the Stourbridge side as well so it would make sense that they were added then the through route was reopened.
 

24Grange

Member
Joined
7 Jan 2021
Messages
219
Location
Baldock
So that 2 trains can use the same platform simultaneously? - Don't know if this would happen operationally.
 

Ianno87

Veteran Member
Joined
3 May 2015
Messages
15,199
So that 2 trains can use the same platform simultaneously? - Don't know if this would happen operationally.

For a relatively minor increase in infrastructure cost, it would save quite a bit of empty stock/crew miles for peak workings.
 

P Binnersley

Member
Joined
30 Dec 2018
Messages
139
Two trains per platform did happen originally ( I think there were marker boards), but this fell our of favour fairly quickly.

The long platforms also allowed a second entrance on Livery St on the west side of Great St Charles St Queensway which is a major barrier to pedestrians, although this didn't open until 2011.

Fortuitously (because the station pre-dates the regulations) the extra long platforms mean that Birmingham Snow Hill is not classified as a sub-surface station.
 

172007

Member
Joined
2 Jan 2021
Messages
287
Location
West Mids
So that 2 trains can use the same platform simultaneously? - Don't know if this would happen operationally.

Can have multiple trains in on plats 2 & 3, only happens in disruption as the instructions are a little inflexible. Splitting of ecs and trains in service happens daily so long platforms are now really useful. Sidings are a real pain as they are realistically to short for the trains diagrammed. Platform 4 not being available kills the service in disruption and when a train needs attention as for 20 mins in the hour platform 2 is used for a Chiltern. Snag for platform 4 is that the station only needs 3 platforms and the accountants will never factor in the extra flexibility for infrequent disruption that happens frequently enough to warrant it.
 
Last edited:

adrock1976

Established Member
Joined
10 Dec 2013
Messages
3,740
Location
What's it called? It's called Cumbernauld
Can have multiple trains in on plats 2 & 4, only happens in disruption as the instructions are a little inflexible. Splitting of ecs and trains in service happens daily so long platforms are now really useful. Sidings are a real pain as they are realistically to short for the trains diagrammed. Platform 4 not being available kills the service in disruption and when a train needs attention as for 20 mins in the hour platform 2 is used for a Chiltern. Snag for platform 4 is that the station only needs 3 platforms and the accountants will never factor in the extra flexibility for infrequent disruption that happens frequently enough to warrant it.

Moving on to the present day, it is intended for Platform 4 to be reinstated now that the Midland Metro trams have vacated for the present Marylebone - Moor Street to run through to Snow Hill.

This in turn (together with the rest of the ex GWR platforms being brought back into use) and with the construction of the Camp Hill Curves would allow trains from Moor Street to East Midlands Region, a Kings Norton local shuttle, and a revised Cardiff via Gloucester to run via the Camp Hill line.

EDIT: Plus allow Bordesley station to be formally closed.
 

172007

Member
Joined
2 Jan 2021
Messages
287
Location
West Mids
Platform 4 was only ever a terminal platform from the south. Camp Hill chords have had plans designed and also the non railway land required ring fenced but, with the post covid situation I imagine it is stalled.
 
Last edited:

6Gman

Established Member
Joined
1 May 2012
Messages
7,131
Would it have saved much being as the depot at Tyseley is only a couple of miles along the line?
Yes.

I used to diagram units (and traincrew) between Tyseley and the Birmingham stations.

It could involve some very unproductive diagrams, not least because the traincrew had to get to Tyseley by railway car not by train. (Revenue guards were understandably reluctant to be wandering the streets of Tyseley.)
 

adrock1976

Established Member
Joined
10 Dec 2013
Messages
3,740
Location
What's it called? It's called Cumbernauld
Yes.

I used to diagram units (and traincrew) between Tyseley and the Birmingham stations.

It could involve some very unproductive diagrams, not least because the traincrew had to get to Tyseley by railway car not by train. (Revenue guards were understandably reluctant to be wandering the streets of Tyseley.)

I had forgot about the likelihood of the guards having to carry cash back then, before the days of electronic payment.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top