visualisation of the Curzon Street terminal in Birmingham for HS2

HS2 Birmingham Curzon Street build begins

HS2 Birmingham Curzon Street station, source: HS2 Ltd HS2 media centre

HS2 Limited, the company formed to deliver Britain’s high-speed rail project, has begun construction on the landmark Birmingham Curzon Street Station. Whatever else may have been said about the project, the spades are in the ground on the new rail hub at the northern terminus of the line. HS2 claim it will play a vital role in the long-term economic future of the West Midlands.

Birmingham Curzon Street Station is being billed as the first brand-new intercity terminus station built in Britain since the nineteenth century. There may be some dispute over that claim. However, there is no denying that the project is a major milestone. It marks the beginning of a five-year construction programme in central Birmingham.

Create far-reaching social and economic opportunities

The huge HS2 construction site seems to have levelled all of the Digbeth neighbourhood. Anyone passing, en route to nearby New Street, is to be forgiven for thinking the station development was already underway. Certainly, HS2’s contractor, Mace Dragados Joint Venture (MDJV), has been hard at work on the approaches and the station site clearance. Now the construction phase begins.

“This is a major milestone for HS2 in the West Midlands”, said Sir Jon Thompson, Executive Chair of HS2 Ltd. “The connectivity created by Birmingham Curzon Street Station and its public realm will create far-reaching social and economic opportunities across Birmingham. As work ramps up over the coming months, many opportunities will be on offer, building on the economic benefits already making an impact in the region as a result of HS2.”

Contested claim to Curzon Street’s groundbreaking record

Work on the station façade will begin in the Summer of 2025, with the construction of concourse steelwork and the roof due to start in Autumn 2025. The internal fit-out of the station will start towards the end of 2025 and finish at the end of 2028. Operational testing and commissioning will run from Summer 2026 to Autumn 2028. High-speed trains to London Old Oak Common, and possibly eventually to Euston Station, are currently expected to begin running sometime between 2029 and 2033.

Sunshine on Leith Central. Britain’s last intercity terminus opened in 1903. As any Leither will readily point out, their city was a separate civic entity until amalgamation with Edinburgh seventeen years later – making the ten-minute journey to Waverley station, technically “intercity”.

According to HS2, Birmingham Curzon Street station will be the first brand-new intercity terminus station built in Britain since the nineteenth century. Citizens of the proudly independent port of Leith in Scotland may claim otherwise. Their city was served by Central Station, built on a scale equal to Curzon Street. It opened in 1903, making it a twentieth-century affair. Like its HS2 counterpart, it is paired with a single ‘intercity’ destination. In this case Edinburgh, albeit a slightly shorter journey of just three miles (five kilometres). Leith Central lasted just 49 years, closing in 1952. The government backers of HS2 will expect a rather longer legacy for Curzon Street.

Further reading:

The conference program of the 15th edition of RailTech Europe, which takes place in Utrecht, Netherlands on 6 and 7 March 2024, will host a range of discussions on innovations, services and products that have a huge impact on the future rail infrastructure. You can learn more about the conference program here and register here.

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is UK correspondent for RailTech.com and Railfreight.com

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