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Two-year wait at Moor Street.

Byline: Phil Waller

A s delays on Britain's troubled railways go, it could be a record breaker.

Weary rail travellers have been told they face a two-year wait to catch a train out of Birmingham's refurbished Moor Street rail terminus.

When the refurbished Edwardian station reopens later this year, it will have a new ticket office, entrance canopy, shops, extra platforms and even an old steam locomotive.

The only thing it won't have on the new lines is trains.

When they launched the flagship project to renovate the old station in 1999, city and rail bosses planned to begin running services off the main line into two new platforms this year.

The move would represent the first time that trains would have run into the old terminus since it was closed in 1985 and the existing through station on the line to Snow Hill was opened.

But Network Rail yesterday said its funding problems and the size and technical complexity of essential signalling work means it will now not be possible until at least 2005/6.

Network Rail spokesman Bob Clarke said the work to allow trains into the new station area can only go ahead as part of a larger plan to resignal the rail network in the Saltley area.

'The money exists in our business plan to do that in the next five years,' he said.

'But the allocation for it is due to be delivered in 2005/6. We could not bring the scheme forward because we don't have the resources within the company or indeed the industry.'

Chiltern Railways and the Birmingham Alliance have funded the renovation of the station in conjunction with the project to rebuild the Bullring.

They are refurbishing the old station buildings to the original design and adding new, more contemporary buildings.

A renovated Great Western Railway steam locomotive will be craned in later this year and the new platforms will have old-style lamp-posts and signs.

A Chiltern Railways spokeswoman admitted the firm was not going to be able to achieve its original plan to run trains into the new platforms this year as a result of the signalling work required.

But she added passengers would still be able to use the new facilities. She also said the firm still hoped to achieve separate plans to increase its current, hourly service between London and Birmingham before 2005.

The extra services would run through the existing Moor Street station.

The Rail Passengers Committee for the Midlands was dismayed by the news.

Secretary Paul Fulwood said it was bizarre there would be new passenger facilities in the station but no trains.

'Still, I understand there's going to be a static steam locomotive that doesn't go anywhere - that's a typically British way of doing things, isn't it?' he said.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 8, 2003
Words:464
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