A city centre tunnel is set to get a £5.5 million facelift to improve the route between two of Birmingham’s busiest railway stations.
The St Martin’s Queensway Tunnel, which runs under the Bullring shopping centre, will be transformed into a well-lit attractive route for rail commuters.
Road crossings and the public areas outside the revamped New Street Station will also be improved to encourage people to walk between there and Moor Street station.
Currently about 1.4 million people a year walk through the dingy tunnel between the stations, but some have complained of feeling unsafe and it is also poorly signed for visitors to the city.
The number of pedestrians using the tunnel is expected to rise to 2.3 million when the HS2 Curzon Street station is built.
Council development director Waheed Nazir, in a report to councillors, said: “This will deliver a world class public realm scheme between New Street and Moor Street stations and the proposed HS2 station via St Martin’s Queensway tunnel.
“This is considered a realistic, deliverable and affordable scheme to pursue.”
Officials also believe that a more welcoming experience for commuters will increase visitor numbers and have a knock-on effect of boosting city centre shops.
The council has been in talks with the Bullring owner Hammerson and secured agreement in principal to make the walkway a public highway.
But plans for a dedicated cycle route through the tunnel have been shelved as it is thought too costly to maintain.
Instead a different cycle route between the stations will be created.
The £5.5 million funding comes from the Local Transport Board, chipping in £3.5 million, and Centro and the enterprise zone initiative providing £1 million each.
Expected contributions from Network Rail and Chiltern Rail, totalling £1.5 million, have been pulled leading to the scheme being slightly scaled down.
Birmingham City Council Cabinet is expected to approve the proposal on Monday.