A long-awaited decision on whether Birmingham's dream of getting a new station to replace the blot of New Street is to be made "shortly" a Government Minister said yesterday.

During a visit to the city, Transport Minister Rosie Winterton stressed Whitehall was serious about getting the £550 million project off the ground.

Today marks 100 days since Birmingham City Council responded to the Government with an updated business plan in response to concerns raised over its original submission.

Ministers have already approved £128 million in funding but have been accused of dragging their heels over an extra £260 million that would allow the New Street Gateway scheme to begin.

The delays in rebuilding the station, described as the "worst bottleneck in the UK", have sparked increasing impatience among commuters and businesses in the region.

Ms Winterton said: "We are very much aware that improvements need to be made to the station. Last summer we approved £128 million of investment. There is another bid for £160 million from the city council and we are looking at the fine details of that and hope to make an announcement shortly.

"We have directly committed £128 million and that is a big indication that the Government recognises the need for improvement and has put the money there."

As well as the city council's bid, regional development agency Advantage West Midlands is also bidding for £100 million from the Government, making a total public sector contribution of £388 million.

The rest of the cash is to come from the private sector which will be heavily involved in developing the shopping and retail element of the new complex.

The latest hurdle blighting the New Street Gateway scheme has been uncertainty over which public body will be responsible for covering any cost over-runs.

Local business leaders have accused the Government of lacking the political will to resolve the issue, particularly in the wake of the completed £800 million refurbishment of London's St Pancras.

Jerry Blackett, chief executive of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: "I suspect there is some politics in all of this. There is nothing for a Labour Government in announcing (investment) for Birmingham right now. There is more in it for them just before the purdah for local elections in May."

Ms Winterton, however, maintained ministers had a responsibility with public money not to rush through a decision.

"It is important when we are talking about further sums of about £160 million that we make sure that everything is right in all the detail. You would expect us to do that from a taxpayer's point of view."

New Street's redevelopment was made the number one priority by Minister for the West Midlands Liam Byrne last year.