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NOTTINGHAM CELEBRATES AS WORLD-CLASS TRANSPORT HUB OFFICIALLY OPENS
A three-year programme of major improvement work to transform Nottingham’s railway station came to a dramatic finale today (26 November 2014) as The Honourable Sir William McAlpine, chairman of the Railway Heritage Trust and the Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire (Sir John Peace) visited to officially open the new world-class transport hub.
They were joined for the official opening by Elly Blacknell, a year 9 student at the Becket School, West Bridgford. Elly, from Clifton, aspires to be a Paralympic swimming champion and is a true inspiration, having had her left leg amputated below the knee and undergone chemotherapy following the diagnosis of a rare bone cancer in 2012. Despite this, she now walks unaided with a prosthetic limb and Elly has gone on to pick up numerous medals in national swimming competitions, competing against able-bodied swimmers, and has been an inspiration to her family, coaches and teachers. Her positive attitude and courage led to Elly being given the Nottingham Post’s Child of Courage Award at this year’s Nottingham Heroes Awards.
Over £60 million has been invested in creating the new transport hub at the very heart of the city, which serves more than seven million passengers every year.
The station has been designed to dramatically enhance the passenger experience, improve the city’s connectivity and encourage greater opportunities for regeneration, investment and growth.
The station’s Edwardian Grade II* listed frontage has been transformed, with the support of the Railway Heritage Trust, to create a modern passenger environment which is sympathetic to the building’s history. Original features have been painstakingly restored, existing facilities have been modernised and a range of new shops and cafes have been provided in the attractive vehicle-free Porte Cochere.
The impressive new glass-fronted Southern Concourse, which has full lift and escalator access, marks a bold and modern addition to the station. It has been carefully designed to enhance the passenger experience and interchange with different forms of transport, connecting trains, the 950-space multi-storey car park and Nottingham’s tram network, when construction of two new tram lines to Chilwell and Clifton is completed and the expanded system opens to the public next year.
The completion of this scheme, which marks the first major investment in Nottingham’s station in many decades, has been successfully delivered by East Midlands Trains and Network Rail working in partnership with Nottingham City Council, Taylor Woodrow and the Railway Heritage Trust, with £12m additional funding from the country’s first Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) scheme. Combined with the city’s multi-million pound investment in the tram network, this has now created an iconic transport hub.
Both the redevelopment of the station and the expansion of Nottingham’s tram network, which is also benefiting from funding generated by the WPL, topped businesses’ wish lists of transport infrastructure improvements that they see as being key to Nottingham’s future economic success.
As part of his visit to Nottingham station, keen railway enthusiast Sir William McAlpine and Sir John Peace had an opportunity to see at first-hand some of the improvements that have been made for passengers including the new tram link, Porte Cochere and Southern Concourse. They also met some of the key people involved in the multi-million pound scheme, including East Midlands Trains’ station and customer service teams, representatives of Network Rail and of Nottingham City Council. There was also a display of terracotta manufacture by local craftsmen involved in the project.
Sir William, Sir John and Elly had a chance to meet children from a variety of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire schools including Blue Bell Hill Primary School, Riverside Primary School, Greenfields Community School in The Meadows and Archbishop Cranmer C of E School in Aslockton.
They were also treated to an array of music performed by the 50-strong Robin Hood Youth Orchestra.
David Horne, Managing Director for East Midlands Trains, said: “It was a fantastic honour and privilege to welcome Sir William McAlpine, Sir John Peace and our special guest Elly Blacknell to Nottingham station today. We’ve had some fantastic feedback from our passengers about the high-quality restoration and refurbishment of the station and everybody involved in the scheme should be very proud of what has been achieved.
“We now have a station that everybody can feel rightly proud of and is fitting for a key and important city such as Nottingham.
“We would like to thank all our partners in the scheme for delivering such an excellent station. This multi-million pound investment improves Nottingham Railway station by recognising the past as well as ensuring it is a world-class transport hub for future generations. It is entirely fitting that the inspirational Elly and local school children, who will be benefiting from the new station for years to come, helped us to officially open the station today as well.”
Councillor Jane Urquhart, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transport at Nottingham City Council, said: “This has been an exciting day for Nottingham as we celebrate the transformation of the station into a world-class transport interchange, which is creating unrivalled links to the city’s expanded tram network and other modes of transport, and meets the needs of today’s passengers and operators.
“The recent investments in the city’s transport and heritage-led improvements around the station are putting Nottingham, our citizens, and our business community in a prime position to attract further investment, jobs and growth.”
Phil Verster, Route Managing Director for Network Rail said: “Stations are vital gateways to our cities and towns, and an important part of passenger journeys. As passenger numbers are forecast to grow, investment in our railway has never been more important.
“We have transformed the rail network in and out of Nottingham station, and refurbished and built the new entrances. This work makes the experience of travelling to and from Nottingham quicker, more flexible and easier for the thousands of passengers that use it every day.
“We are pleased the transformation of Nottingham station has been celebrated today, and are happy to have contributed to such an important project for the city.”
Nottingham station was built by the Midland Railway and opened on 17 January 1904 at a cost of £1m (the equivalent of £94m in today’s era). Designed by Charles Trubshaw and Albert Edward Lambert, it has been the main rail station in Nottingham since the closure of Nottingham Victoria station on 4 September 1967.