'Britain's worst station' is back on track with £44m facelift


A £44 million upgrade has been unveiled at a railway station once branded the worst in Britain.

Manchester Victoria's leaky roof, darkness and poor facilities led to it being named by the Department for Transport (DfT) as the station most in need of urgent improvement in 2009. 

It has undergone a makeover which included the building of a bold new roof to allow natural light into the station and a bridge linking it to the neighbouring 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena.

Some six million passengers use Manchester Victoria each year. The station connects the city to destinations such as Liverpool, Newcastle and Leeds.

Research carried out for the DfT's report six years ago found that only 32% of passengers were happy with it.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin described the redevelopment as a "remarkable project".

He said: "It's fantastic to see Manchester Victoria once again a station fit for the city. It's now a symbol of opportunity, not neglect."

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne claimed the station - which first opened in 1844 - was now "among the country's best".

He added: "For far 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."

The project is part of a £1 billion Network Rail programme to modernise the railway in the north of England.

The new roof consists of 410 ETFE cushions, which is the same material used at the Eden Project in Cornwall. It is held up by 15 giant steel ribs up to 96 metres long.

The station concourse has been fully refurbished and there is a new restaurant, first-class lounge, shops and ticket barriers.

The redevelopment also incorporates an expanded Metrolink tram network with four new platforms and three additional tracks.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: "With tram and train services all together under one impressive new roof, the transformed Manchester Victoria station is an example of how we're beginning to make a difference as we work towards becoming a city with world class transport infrastructure."

Mr McLoughlin unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion, beside Soldiers' Gate, which local troops passed through before heading off to fight in the First World War.