Following the announcement that the £600 million overhaul of New Street Station is to go ahead, Public Affairs Editor Paul Dale profiles the man charged with turning the vision into reality.
Martin Chambers, who is responsible for delivering the £600 million refurbishment of New Street Station, is in the habit of taking guests on a walking tour of what will shortly become Birmingham's largest construction project.
His contention is that only by seeing the sprawling site first-hand is it possible to understand the scale of the transformation being proposed. You have to experience the awfulness before you can appreciate the vision.
The tour takes in many of the grimy, hidden corners of New Street and impresses upon all those who take part the urgent need to demolish an ugly, inefficient, eyesore and build a landmark station worthy of a city with the global ambitions of Birmingham.
Mr Chambers, who was appointed in 2006, has spent almost two years making the case for New Street, addressing scores of meetings and seminars with a passionate presentation spelling out the benefits of the new station, which is expected to be completed by the summer of 2013.
He's spelled out how the new station will:
* have waiting areas that can deal with twice as many passengers than is possible at the moment, as well as a shopping mall through the centre of the station. A huge atrium, letting in natural light, will be made from the same material used for the Eden Project
* create two new public open spaces, at the junction of Hill Street and Station Street and at the St Martin's Circus entrance to the station
* lever in £200 million of private sector investment to the south of the station, creating new commercial space, two tower blocks and generating up to 5,000 jobs.
It all sounds fantastic. Especially the way Mr Chambers puts it.
But the time for talking is over now. Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly's announcement on Tuesday that the Gateway Plus partnership will get all of the Government funding it needs to build a station fit for the 21st century was equivalent to firing the starting gun for Mr Chambers.
When he was asked to take charge he described New Street as the biggest challenge he had ever faced. Quite an admission from someone with an impressive number of complex construction projects under his belt, including Millennium Point in Birmingham and the Touchwood shopping centre in Solihull.
He accepts that one of his biggest challenges is to try to minimise disruption to passengers during the four-year construction period. This will be achieved by splitting the scheme into two halves, with the first part of the project concentrating on building a giant new concourse on what is at the moment the station car park.
When that is completed and open to the public, work will shift to the other side of the station.
Mr Chambers puts it like this: "We want four-and-a-half years of people hardly noticing anything is going on."
The ultimate aim, he thinks, is to open up Birmingham's hidden station.
From the moment he was appointed, Martin Chambers was keen to stress the regeneration
aspects of the Gateway scheme. Birmingham will get a modern station, of course, but the new New Street will improve pedestrian access between the Bullring and Mailbox and open up a down-at-heel part of the city centre for redevelopment.
When he was appointed, Mr Chambers said: "If you think of any other major station in the country, it forms a major part of the townscape. New Street does not. It is almost invisible.
"We want to change that. The new concourses will be almost seven times the size of the existing concourse, there will be airline-style waiting areas and the idea is to keep customers away from the platforms until the last minute.
"This is a very complicated message that we need to get out to the wider public. We are proposing very much a gentle systematic approach. There won't be a big bang."
New Street has been bursting at the seams for years. It was designed to cope with a maximum 60,000 passengers a day. In fact, up to 104,000 passengers a day pass through the station, 35 million a year, often requiring entrances to be locked at peak times in order to avoid dangerous overcrowding on the platforms.
When the Gateway project has been completed, New Street will be able to deal with an estimated 52 million passengers a year.
Building work is likely to begin in January 2009. In the meantime, a competition is under way to find an architect capable of designing something that, in Mr Chambers' words, "reflects the aspirations of modern day Birmingham and the wider West Midlands region".
He added: "By 2013 we will be finished and Birmingham will have something that is world class and reflects the quality of this city".