Mace senior project manger Paul Dalton on delivering Birmingham New Street station

Today sees the final completion of the New Street project as the Grand Central shopping centre opens. Senior project manager for Mace Paul Dalton talks about the challenging scheme.

Paul Dalton, Mace

Talk us through the key milestones on the scheme.

Construction of phase 1 started in 2009 with work to the west side of the station to carve out the new western concourse while passengers continued to use the existing station facilities. In 2010 John Lewis was announced as the anchor tennant for Grand Central and we developed a plan to refurbish all 12 platforms without reducing rail services. During 2011 the 22 storey Stephernson Tower was demolished brick by brick by a team of 1000 workers over six months to make way for the new John Lewis building. By 2012 the construction of the facade began on the north side of the station using 5000 stainless steel panels which have been carefully arranged to avoid relfecting sunlight at train drivers or obscuring signalling.

How many companies and people did you have to coordinate on this?

Back to the Birmingham New Street Station hub content

Over 60 sub-contractor suppliers and over 10,000 workers for the duration of the project with up to 3000 construction staff at peak.

How complex was it to rebuild the station and keep it operational?

New Street is a highly complex project due to its pivotal location in the UK’s rail network plus the fact that the station had to remain operational throughout the works. New Street handles 150,000 passengers per day and on one day last year 200,000 passengers used the station. Our construction site ran 24 hours a day 7 days a week and saw up to 3,000 workers on site at peak. There were limited plans in existence of the old station which posed a significant challenge and there were issues including large levels of asbestos in the existing structure.

What were the most interesting and challenging achievements from a construction perspective?

Transferring 200 tonnes of steel onto the existing concrete structure to form the new roof.  

Demolishing over 13,500 tonnes of concrete most of which has been reused.

60,000 hours spent removing asbestos safely.

Using prefabricated elements to speed up construction. Using lean construction and BIM make us more efficient and minimise site time with achievements including shortening demolition works from 12 to 6 months as well as reducing a pedestrian tunnel move from two weeks to 57 hours.

Commissioning a bespoke excavator ‘the mega muncher’ to help crush huge amounts concrete.

What are the biggest lessons for the future of this kind of scheme from a Mace perspective?

Plan for a comprehensive programme of surveys and secure access to areas at the earliest possible time. Design against the phasing strategy and create the environment for collaborative working with the station operational team and train operator representatives from the outset.

If you would like to contact Bernadette Ballantyne about this, or any other story, please email