Avanti West Coast : Birmingham New Street to Coventry

Birmingham New Street is a delightful new and bright railway station, but the platforms under it weren’t modernised as part of the new structure. It seems a little unusual to go from a beautiful building which is modern and flooded in light, to the dingy platforms underneath. It reminds me slightly of Penn Station in New York, with the platform section being totally different to what is above (in that case because they demolished the beautiful building above the platforms).

Here’s the Avanti train, not really looking the most beautiful in terms of its design, although apparently a number of their trains are currently receiving makeovers and so perhaps this one will soon receive the same modernisation.

I had booked my train about twenty minutes before the trip using GWR (to get a few Nectar points) and it cost £4.90 to get from Birmingham to Coventry. Seat reservations are required and I was in Carriage F, although it transpired to not really be very busy on-board. The above set-up really doesn’t help customers find their carriage if they’re labelling them G and then U. The announcements made clear that customers need no longer wear masks, although they were welcome to if they wanted, which makes me confused as to what the rules actually are now as they seem to differ between rail companies. Customers were though asked not to sit in the aisle seats to help protect staff, although that request seemed to be widely ignored.

The carriage, all clean and bright, although I couldn’t find any at-seat power (not that I actually needed any given that the journey was only twenty minutes). These are the old Virgin trains from when they operated the West Coast mainline franchise from 1997 to 2019, but Avanti will only hold the new franchise until 2026 due to changes to the way that the rail system will operate in the future (I suspect for the worse, but that’s a discussion for elsewhere).

And safely into Coventry on time.

I thought that this was all rather positive, they’re building a new station complex. The current railway station isn’t really very nice, it’s a bit tired and was in need of a modernisation. It was built in the 1960s after the previous perfectly adequate building was demolished, a sad loss for the city. As part of the integrated public transport strategy, buses and trains will now connect together at the new railway station building.

Which all means that I’m safely in Coventry and this new development gives a much better first impression to the city than it used to.