A huge model of how the front of Birmingham's New Street Station will look in five years time has been unveiled by engineers.
The 200 metre-squared replica of the stainless steel facade has been built at Network Rail’s logistics site in Bordesley, where a team of engineers have been testing construction techniques and materials for durability under different weather conditions.
Representatives from all four partners involved in the £400m New Street Station project visited the site to witness the structure’s first unveiling.
Andrew Skidmore, from Network Rail, said up to 1,000 tons of steel will be used to cover the station in the mirror-polished stainless steel.
“It will be a fantastic building once it’s finished," he said. "For the past few weeks we’ve been testing various fixtures and thickness of steel in a safe environment away from New Street - to cause as little disruption to rail users as possible. The structure will remain at the railway sidings undergoing different tests for a few years.”
The mock-up construction designed by Foreign Office Architects’ comprises of 54 individual panels of 2mm-thick stainless steel mounted four metres from the ground.
Among those viewing it for the first time was Mick Laverty, chief executive of Advantage West Midlands, which has invested £100million into the scheme.
He said: “Personally, having seen the cladding for the first time, I think it’s going to become the second iconic building after Selfridges.
"It shows a more dynamic side of Birmingham rather than the tired old Spaghetti junction that has been used for years and years and is going to be one of the region’s gateways befitting of an international city of Birmingham’s stature.”
Mr Laverty said the partnership, which consists of Network Rail, Birmingham City Council, Advantage West Midlands and Centro, was keen to promote jobs for local people as part of the regeneration on the city’s south side. Last week, an agreement was signed between Network Rail and Birmingham City Council to procure jobs for local workers.
Leader of the Birmingham City Council Mike Whitby was also on site to see the full-scale structure. He said: “It’s very impressive. At the moment 40 million people come into New Street, when it was designed to cater for just 16million.
"Their first and last memory if they are going by rail is of this very tired station. This new high-tech gateway seen in the way we’ve seen it today, will allow up to 52 million visitors coming to Birmingham to have a more enjoyable rail trip and also to become ambassadors for us and promote the city throughout the UK.”
Coun Whitby said the new station and other key transport projects like the extension of Metro and High Speed Rail, will give the city the “modern vibrant image and world class public transport system it deserves”.