Manchester Victoria station – once labelled Britain’s worst – was officially re-opened today (6 October 2015) by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin following a £44 million upgrade.
The station’s transformation is part of a £1 billion investment programme in rail across the north of England, providing better journeys and helping to build a Northern Powerhouse.
The Transport Secretary unveiled a plaque declaring the new station open at a ceremony beside Soldiers’ Gate, which local service personnel passed through before heading off to fight in World War One, some never to return.
Mr McLoughlin said:
I want to congratulate everyone involved in this remarkable project. It’s fantastic to see Manchester Victoria once again a station fit for the city. It’s now a symbol of opportunity, not neglect, and proof that this one nation government is building the Northern Powerhouse.
The north is receiving a wave of investment in its transport infrastructure on a scale not seen for generations, with £4.5 billion in the north west alone. The benefits are already being delivered, with 71,000 more businesses in the north west than in 2010 - a clear sign our long-term plan to secure a stronger, healthier economy is working.
Improvements to the station include a new 8,500 square metre roof that allows light to pour into the station, a new 60 metre bridge linking the station and the Manchester Arena, and new shops and cafes for passengers and other station customers. The mezzanine area of the station has new retail spaces and a lift, making the station fully accessible. The station now also incorporates the expansion of Metrolink tram network, with 4 new tram platforms and 3 new tracks.
All station improvements were delivered by Network Rail while keeping the station open and operational. A temporary roof deck was in place to allow the removal and replacement of the roof.
Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail said:
For too long people travelling in and out of Manchester Victoria had to make do with a tired and dark station. The contrast today is remarkable. Manchester Victoria is modern, clean and flooded with natural light; a station this great city so badly needs. It is a key part of our £1 billion programme to modernise the railway for the whole of the north of England.
The opening of Manchester Victoria station follows the recent opening of Birmingham New Street station following a multi-million pound refurbishment, both of which mark significant successes in the redevelopment of the rail network.