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Work finishes on new roof for Birmingham New Street station

The final piece of Birmingham New Street station’s new atrium roof covering was put into place on Tuesday, marking an important milestone in the station’s redevelopment.

Made of the same high-tech material as the Eden Project in Cornwall, the translucent roof will allow natural light to stream down onto the concourse below.

The translucent material is known as ETFE – or ethylene tetrafluoroethylene. It is strong, durable, has a high corrosion resistance, is self-cleaning and recyclable. It is also much lighter than glass, a significant benefit when the new development is being built directly on top of Birmingham New Street station underneath.

However before light can stream through the material onto the concourse demolition experts need to remove 6,000 tonnes of concrete over two floors of the old Pallasades shopping centre.

Chris Montgomery, Network Rail’s project director for the Birmingham New Street project said: “As our work to transform New Street station continues, excitement among our 1,000-strong workforce is really starting to build. Piece by piece, the design and concept for the station is being brought to life and it’s great to see the last section of the new roof covering lifted into place.

“Completing the atrium structure and covering it in its Eden Project-like material is a real milestone but we’re already looking forward to the next step. Demolishing part of the former Pallasades will flood the new concourse with natural light from above, transforming the experience of millions of passengers who will use this fantastic new station when it opens in about a year's time.”

Demolition engineers from specialist contractor Coleman & Company will work round-the-clock over the next six months to remove thousands of tonnes of concrete, creating what will become the heart of the new station structure. To keep noise levels down during night time work, a special machine has been designed, known as the “Mega Muncher”, that ‘eats’ the concrete. This approach is significantly quieter and less disruptive than traditional jackhammer-type methods.

Mark Coleman, managing director at Coleman & Company, said “To demolish 6,000 tonnes of cast reinforced concrete from the centre of a busy city centre construction site, above a live operational rail station, without noise, dust and disruption is a huge engineering challenge. Some of these beams weigh more than the equivalent of 30 Range Rovers. Our engineers have been working closely with Network Rail and MACE, assessing the structure and crunching the numbers, to ensure that all works are completed to the highest standards.”

The complete redevelopment of Birmingham New Street station is expected to be completed in September 2015.

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