How to navigate Birmingham New Street station

Esther Plant


Birmingham New Street is a railway station in the centre of Birmingham. Due to its central location and wide array of connections, it is likely that if you frequently travel by rail, you will pass through Birmingham New Street at some point. Newcomers may find navigating this station tricky due to its unique Red, Green, and Blue Lounges, as well as the platforms being sectioned into ‘a,’ ‘b,’ and ‘c’. To remedy this confusion, we have put together some useful information that you will need to know to avoid easy mistakes and ensure a peaceful commute.

  1. Purchasing a ticket online and in person
  2. What are the Red, Green and Blue Lounges in Birmingham New Street station?
  3. Birmingham New Street station platforms (and what does ‘a’, ‘b’ and ‘c’ mean?)
  4. How to make connecting journeys in Birmingham New Street
  5. Things to do in New Street station
  6. Accommodation close to Birmingham New Street
  7. Conclusion

Purchasing a ticket online and in person

The first step of your journey will of course be purchasing a ticket. Today, it’s easiest to buy a train ticket online as you can reserve a seat. This is something you will be grateful for on longer journeys. You can also track your journey live in most cases. Trainline is an obvious choice for ticket purchasing with an easy-to-use app. Or you can purchase tickets directly through the train service provider’s website which can sometimes give cheaper costs. Although this can add some difficulty if your journey requires multiple trains provided by different providers.

If you want to purchase your ticket in person, you can do so either from ticket machines; these can be found near any entrance to the station, or within the main ticket office behind the customer information screens; or from the ticket office which is open between 5:15am to 11:00pm Monday to Saturday, or 8:00am to 11:00pm on Sundays.

What are the Red, Green and Blue Lounges in Birmingham New Street station?

The Birmingham New Street station layout can be somewhat confusing. In simple terms, it is divided into four sections. There is the ground floor shopping area, and the Red, Green (formerly Yellow) and Blue Lounges. These lounges serve as waiting areas for certain platforms. Platforms 1 to 5 are accessed via the Blue Lounge, and platforms 6 to 12 are accessed via the Green Lounge. Both lounges will lead you to the ‘a’ end of the platforms. The Red Lounge provides access to any of the New Street platforms and will lead you to the ‘b’ end. It’s best to use this lounge if you are unsure which platform your train will be departing from.

These lounges are usually the main point of confusion for commuters. If you are unsure, the main departure board, located in the centre of New Street on the ground floor, will tell you which lounge you need to enter for your journey. All three lounges contain rest room facilities. Although the shopping options are more limited here than in the main shopping area outside the lounges.

Make sure you are going into the correct lounge, as you will not be able to reuse your ticket to access other areas of the station once you have passed through a gate. This includes the main shopping area outside of the lounges.

National Rail helpfully offers a map of New Street station on their website. Well sign-posted areas within the station also guide visitors effectively.

If you do find yourself in the wrong lounge or need to head back to the main shopping floor, don’t fret. You can ask a member of staff to let you through the gate and they will do so after checking your ticket.

Birmingham New Street station outside view

Birmingham New Street station platforms (and what does ‘a’, ‘b’ and ‘c’ mean?)

There are 12 platforms in Birmingham New Street station. All of these platforms are separated out into two sections, ‘a’ and ‘b’, while platform 4 is separated into three sections: ‘a’, ‘b’ and ‘c’. These sections correspond to the end of the platform you are standing on.

Platforms are split into lettered sections due to the size of the train compared to the length of the platform. Some trains are large and will require the entire length of the platform (both the ‘a’ and ‘b’ ends), so the platform on your ticket may not have a letter. While others have less carriages and thus can occupy half the platform, for instance, the ‘a’ section, whilst another train can depart from the ‘b’ section at the same time, and so this section will be noted on your ticket with your platform number.

Because of this, it is important that you wait at the correct platform end. You don’t want to be standing on platform 11a waiting for the train to Edinburgh and accidentally end up on 11b direct to Plymouth. Spotting which end of the platform you are on can be a bit tricky as the signs are not all that obvious, but there will be indicators along the roof of the platform signposting the ‘a’ or ‘b’ end of the platform, you just need to look out for them.

How to make connecting journeys in Birmingham New Street

If you have separate tickets for your journey, upon your arrival into New Street you can exit through any gate using your ticket to Birmingham and re-enter a lounge using the ticket for your next departure. If you do not have a separate ticket, it’s best to leave your platform from the ‘b’ end of the platform if you need to make a connecting train within New Street, as your train ticket will only open one set of gates. This is because the ‘b’ end leads to the Red Lounge and allows for access to all platforms without having to go through any other gates.

Things to do in New Street station

If you have some spare time between train journeys, you might be a bit unsure of how to use it. Luckily, New Street isn’t short of things to do. Grand Central, the shopping mall that sits on top of New Street station, has a great range of shops on the ground floor and upper level, including coffee, clothing, pharmacy and food stores.

For restaurants in Birmingham New Street station, your options are mostly chain eateries. There is a decent selection provided, enjoy a range of highly rated Japanese, British, American and Spanish cuisine during your spell in New Street station.

Birmingham New Street is conveniently located in the centre of Birmingham. So, if you find yourself with a long layover, why not head into town and explore all that this vibrant city has to offer?

Birmingham New Street station inside view

Accommodation close to Birmingham New Street

Situ offers serviced accommodation near Birmingham New Street to ensure your stay is convenient and comfortable. Explore our range of apartments in Birmingham and elevate your business trip with a luxurious stay in a sought-after location. For more information on this vibrant area, see our Full Guide detailing the highlights of Birmingham and the benefits serviced accommodation will give to your corporate stay. If you have any queries about Birmingham serviced accommodation, please get in touch and we will be happy to help.

See Birmingham New Street Apartments


To conclude, Birmingham New Street station is easy to navigate once you understand its system. The Red, Green and Blue Lounges act as waiting areas for the various platforms. While the ‘a’, ‘b’, and ‘c’ sections indicate the end of the platform from which you are departing or arriving. If you are unsure, the Red Lounge is a safe choice. Or you are welcome to ask a member of staff and they will be able to help.