It’s the end of the line for Birmingham New Street’s famous Brutalist pre-cast concrete signal box
The Grade Two listed Birmingham Power Signal Box (PSB) at New Street directed 1,200 trains a day from inside the Soviet-style building
It’s the end of the line for a famous Brutalist signal box which will move its final train on Christmas Eve – after 57 YEARS service.
The pre-cast concrete signal box at Birmingham New Street station has divided opinion since it opened in 1966. Fascinating pictures reveal the distinctive ‘Brutalist’ style of the Birmingham Power Signal Box (PSB).
The Grade Two Listed building has been at the heart of Britain’s railway network with signallers directing 1,200 trains a day from inside the Soviet-style building.
It used a huge telephone exchange linked to mechanical relays controlling signals and points, with staff manually setting safe routes for trains through Britain’s busiest station outside of London.
When it first opened it controlled trains between Hampden-in-Arden, Warwickshire, through Birmingham and towards Stourbridge and was one of four power signal boxes in the region.
Since 2005 the other boxes closed and the panels in the Birmingham PSB got smaller and smaller as sections of the signalling system were modernised.
Despite its age much of the equipment has been working constantly since it was installed with some components never needing any maintenance. Due to a shortage of spare parts and aging technology, engineers have spent the last two years converting the equipment to digital.
The final train to be directed from the signal box will take place on Christmas Eve to be replaced by a £700 million signal hub. During the last 23 months at New Street Station, 230 miles of new cabling has been installed for 114 new signals. A further 232 axle counters (sensors which detect where trains are on the track) were installed.
Denise Wetton, Network Rail’s Central route director, said: “While some may be sad to see the Power Signal Box operate for the final time, the transfer of signalling control to our state-of-the-art signalling centre in Saltley marks a new dawn for the West Midlands’ railway network.
“Now the 17-year long project to digitalise the signalling system is complete, we are ready to face whatever the future may bring as we encourage more people back to using the railway as a safe and green way to travel, and provide reliable journeys for our passengers and freight customers.”
The state-of-the-art West Midlands Signalling Centre will begin from Tuesday (December 27). Here are six fascinating photos of PSB in action throughout the years: