New Street is Birmingham's main railway station, and is a major hub of the British railway system. Due to its central location, railway lines from all over the United Kingdom run into it including railway lines to: London, Manchester, Scotland, Wales, Bristol, Penzance, Nottingham, Leicester, Shrewsbury. The station is also a terminus for many local train services from throughout the West Midlands conurbation. Direct trains run to more stations from New Street than from any other station on the British railway network. 31 million people pass through New Street station every year.
New Street station was constructed as a joint station by the London and North Western Railway and the Midland Railway between 1846 and 1854 to replace several earlier unconnected rail termini, the most notable being Curzon Street.
Because it was constructed by two companies, the original New Street Station was effectively two stations built side-by-side. Each company had one half, with a road, Queen's Drive, between them. This lead to an incovenient track layout which restricted capacity. In 1923, the two companies, with others, were grouped into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS).
The station was completely re-built by the then- nationalised British Railways in the mid 1960s, when the West Coast Mainline was modernsied and electrified. Queen's Drive was lost in this rebuilding. The rebuilt station has a shopping centre and car park above it and is thus dark, enclosed (except at the far ends) and widely disliked. It therefore bears a strong resemblance to Pennsylvania Station in New York City.
The local press regularly report plans to rebuild the station once again, including a proposed "double decker" layout, with suburban- line platforms below those for long- distance trains, but funding seems to be non-existent.