A three-year programme of major improvement work to transform Nottingham's railway station drew to a dramatic finale as The Honourable Sir William McAlpine, chairman of the Railway Heritage Trust, visited the city to officially open the new world-class transport hub.
Over £60 million has been invested in creating the new transport hub at the very heart of the city, which serves more than seven million passengers every year.
The station has been designed to dramatically enhance the passenger experience, improve the city's connectivity and encourage greater opportunities for regeneration, investment and growth.
The station's Edwardian Grade II* listed frontage has been transformed to create a modern passenger environment which is sympathetic to the building's history. Original features have been painstakingly restored, existing facilities have been modernised and a range of new shops and cafes have been provided in the attractive vehicle-free Porte Cochere.
The impressive new glass-fronted Southern Concourse, which has full lift and escalator access, marks a bold and modern addition to the station. It has been carefully designed to enhance the passenger experience and interchange with different forms of transport, connecting trains, the 950-space multi-storey car park and Nottingham's tram network, when construction of two new tram lines to Chilwell and Clifton is completed and the expanded system opens to the public next year.
The completion of this scheme, which marks the first major investment in Nottingham's station in many decades, has been successfully delivered by East Midlands Trains and Network Rail working in partnership with Nottingham City Council, Taylor Woodrow and the Railway Heritage Trust, with £12m additional funding from the country's first Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) scheme. Combined with the city's multi-million pound investment in the tram network, this has now created an iconic transport hub.
Both the redevelopment of the station and the expansion of Nottingham's tram network, which is also benefiting from funding generated by the WPL, topped businesses' wish lists of transport infrastructure improvements that they see as being key to Nottingham's future economic success.
As part of his visit to Nottingham station, keen railway enthusiast Sir William McAlpine will have an opportunity to see at first-hand some of the improvements that have been made for passengers including the new tram link, Porte Cochere and Southern Concourse. Sir William will also meet some of the key people involved in the multi-million pound scheme, including East Midlands Trains' station and customer service teams, representatives of Network Rail and of Nottingham City Council. There will also be a display of terracotta manufacture by local craftsmen involved in the project.
Sir William, whose Railway Heritage Trust contributed towards the cost of restoring the station's historic features, will tour the station accompanied by Elly Blacknell, a year 9 student at the Becket School, West Bridgford. Elly, from Clifton, aspires to be a Paralympic swimming champion and is a true inspiration, having had her left leg amputated below the knee and undergone chemotherapy following the diagnosis of a rare bone cancer in 2012. Despite this, she now walks unaided with a prosthetic limb and Elly has gone on to pick up numerous medals in national swimming competitions, competing against able-bodied swimmers, and has been an inspiration to her family, coaches and teachers. Her positive attitude and courage led to Elly being given the Nottingham Post's Child of Courage Award at this year's Nottingham Heroes Awards.
Sir William and Elly were able to meet children from a variety of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire schools including Blue Bell Hill Primary School, Riverside Primary School, Greenfields Community School in The Meadows and Archbishop Cranmer C of E School in Aslockton.
They were also be treated to music enthusiastically performed by the 50-strong Robin Hood Youth Orchestra.
David Horne, Managing Director for East Midlands Trains, said: "It is a fantastic honour and privilege to welcome Sir William McAlpine to Nottingham station today. We've had some fantastic feedback from our passengers about the high-quality restoration and refurbishment of the station and everybody involved in the scheme should be very proud of what has been achieved.
"We now have a station that everybody can feel rightly proud of and is fitting for a key and important city such as Nottingham.
"We would like to thank all our partners in the scheme for delivering such an excellent station and particular thanks to Sir William and to Elly for helping us to mark such a major boost for the city.
"This multi-million pound investment improves Nottingham Railway Station by recognising the past as well as ensuring it is a world-class transport hub for future generations. It is entirely fitting that the inspirational Elly and local school children, who will be benefiting from the new station for years to come, are helping us to officially open the station today as well."
Councillor Jane Urquhart, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transport at Nottingham City Council, said: "This is an exciting day for Nottingham as we celebrate the transformation of the station into a world-class transport interchange, which is creating unrivalled links to the city's expanded tram network and other modes of transport, and meets the needs of today's passengers and operators.
"The recent investments in the city's transport and heritage-led improvements around the station are putting Nottingham, our citizens, and our business community in a prime position to attract further investment, jobs and growth."
Phil Verster, Route Managing Director for Network Rail said: "Stations are vital gateways to our cities and towns, and an important part of passenger journeys. As passenger numbers are forecast to grow, investment in our railway has never been more important.
"We have transformed the rail network in and out of Nottingham station, and refurbished and built the new entrances. This work makes the experience of travelling to and from Nottingham quicker, more flexible and easier for the thousands of passengers that use it every day.
"We are pleased the transformation of Nottingham station will be celebrated today, and are happy to have contributed to such an important project for the city."
Nottingham station was built by the Midland Railway and opened on 17 January 1904 at a cost of £1m (the equivalent of £94m in today's era). Designed by Charles Trubshaw and Albert Edward Lambert, it has been the main rail station in Nottingham since the closure of Nottingham Victoria station on 4 September 1967.