Fine, I promise not to overegg it too much in the future, although I am sorely tempted if my noble friend will be as complimentary as he appears to be.
Birmingham New Street station is a pretty baffling place to someone with railway experience. The signage there is appalling. For those not familiar with it, the station’s platforms are divided into “A” and “B” areas. For someone not particularly experienced with it, particularly someone from abroad, getting from one platform to another is a fairly difficult task. It is not a railway station with some commercial properties; I am afraid it is a shopping centre with a station attached, perhaps as an afterthought. It is the busiest railway station outside London, yet the bus and Metro stops outside are labelled not “Birmingham New Street” but “Grand Central”, which is the shopping centre.
Someone coming from abroad will not be too impressed by the signage within New Street station, which says “red lounge”, “green lounge” and “blue lounge”— all meaningless phrases. Whoever decided to sign Birmingham New Street in that way obviously got their experience from airports. When the station was being redeveloped, it was expected that passengers would wait in a lounge until their train was called. That is not a habit most railway users are familiar with here or, I suspect, abroad. They are not lounges anyway, but merely different coloured seats—pretty uncomfortable ones, I might add—in various parts of the station. Most people, particularly those going to the Games, will want to know how to get to the various districts in which the different sports are being held. “Red lounge” and “blue lounge” will not be particularly helpful. They will not particularly want to get on a Metro tram or bus labelled “Grand Central” if they are coming back to New Street station. These areas are all up for discussion. I hope something can be done to ease the passage of people arriving and departing by train before the Games themselves.
The Minister rightly praised the city council and the organising committee for the work they have done. Although, as I said, I live in Birmingham, I am not entitled to speak the whole city, but I feel that many of us in the city are very much looking forward to the Games in 2022 and I am pretty sure they will be successful. There are still one or two naysayers in our party on the city council who complain about the cost of the Games, ignoring the fact that they bring enormous benefits to the city in which they are held. In Glasgow, for example, in 2014, more than £740 million was generated for Scotland’s economy, while the 2018 Games, on the Gold Coast in Queensland, were expected to deliver a $1.3 billion boost to the economy in that part of Australia.
We look forward to the 2022 Games in Birmingham. Thanks to the work being done locally, and the support from the Government, they will be as successful as their predecessors in other parts of the world.