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Essential canal improvement works completed at University station

Friday 26 November, 2021

Improvement works to a historic part of the Birmingham & Worcester canal have been completed alongside the redevelopment of University railway station.

The work, which took place in October and November, was carried out to support the Canal & River Trust and followed the successful installation of a canal footbridge last month.

The canal footbridge is a key feature of the new station since it provides direct access between the station and university campus. 

Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is working with partners on the development of a new fit-for-purpose station with modern facilities and capable of handling 7.2 million passengers a year.

As part of the agreement to install the new bridge, TfWM committed to the life extension works on behalf of the Canal & Rivers Trust.  

To carry out the work, a 34-metre temporary cofferdam, a dry enclosure, was built within the water.  This allowed the ability to safely remove and relocate any fish and aquatic life that were present prior to the water being pumped out to create a dry working environment.  Specialists were then able to carry out repointing and other improvement works to the supporting canal wall.   

This has involved partners on the project coming together and working closely with the Canal & River Trust to safely do this. 

Malcolm Holmes, director of rail for TfWM said: “Once complete the new station will provide a much improved environment for visitors to the University and QE Hospital – including a convenient new bridge over the canal.

“But it is important that while building this fantastic new station we look after the local environment which is why we agreed to carry out this important work to strengthen the bank and extend the life of this historic canal.”

SLC Rail is working in a joint venture with AECOM as Rail Delivery Partner and Volker Fitzpatrick LTD is the Principal Contractor on the project.

Chris Schoolar, construction manager from SLC Rail said: “There has been a lot of work involved in getting these repairs arranged and we’ve made sure that there has been minimal disruption for canal users, whilst also protecting fish and other aquatic life.  

“This is a really exciting project bringing many benefits to the local area – and it’s been good working closely with the Canal & River Trust and other interested parties to carry out this work.”

Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), and West Midlands Rail Executive are leading a consortium including the University of Birmingham, Birmingham City Council, Network Rail, West Midlands Trains, the Department for Transport, the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, Canal and River Trust, SLC-AECOM, CrossCountry Trains and Midlands Engine to fund and develop the project.  

This investment is just part of the region's wider plans for rail which include the construction of six new stations and the reopening of the Camp Hill and Wolverhampton to Walsall lines to passenger services. It will also contribute towards the West Midlands' target of becoming a net-zero carbon region by 2041.

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