As the UK’s second city, Birmingham is almost as well served by bus, road and rail services as the capital itself, although it does not, as yet, have an underground system. It is also rapidly developing its network of footpaths, cycle hubs and traffic-free zones, as it fulfils its aim to become a city where pedestrians and cyclists can safely explore the many central attractions on offer.
The main railway station in Birmingham is New Street Station, which is a major destination for Virgin Trains from London, Glasgow and Edinburgh, via the West Coast Main Line, and also the national hub for the CrossCountry network – the most extensive in the country.
No fewer than eight local lines also offer services across and around the city, enabling fast, easy access to and from the surrounding areas for workers and shoppers who travel daily.
Steam enthusiasts can enjoy the Severn Valley Steam Railway out of Moor Street station, close to the city’s Bullring shopping centre.
Online railway timetables are available at www.networkwestmidlands.com or for National Rail Enquiries, call 08457 48 49 50
A huge network of bus routes criss-crosses Birmingham, effectively linking all corners of the greater city area. The driver-operated system requires you to provide the exact change for your trip – so make sure you have a plentiful supply before you set off to explore! – and use only the official bus stops to board or leave your bus.
Most local buses have lowered floors to make access easy for travellers with wheelchairs, buggies or pushchairs.
Online bus routes, fares and timetables are available at www.networkwestmidlands.com or you can call 0871 200 22 33 for timetable information.
If you arrive for your stay in the city with luggage, or after a hard day’s shopping, taking a taxi to your destination is probably the best way to travel. Birmingham taxis are well regulated and safe to use.
The city’s ‘black’ cabs are operated by TOA Taxis and can be hailed in any street, or taken from one of the many ranks around the city centre, including New Street Station, Stephenson Street and Digbeth Coach Station.
Pre-booking a private hire car can be done through ComCab, the city’s leading licensed operator. Fares are regulated by Birmingham City Council and can be obtained in advance of your journey, the knowledgeable drivers are fully licensed and the large fleet is available 24/7.
If you arrive via Birmingham airport, the taxi company of choice is TC Cars, whose qualified, uniformed drivers have constant access to flight times. Call 0121 770 2000 for a fare estimate.
While your trip to Birmingham is most unlikely to start or finish on a narrowboat, it may surprise you to find that the city has more miles of canals and waterways than Venice!
The heart of the busy network is focused upon Gas Street Basin near Brindley Place, and it’s a lovely spot for a pleasant stroll by the water, with some great pubs and even a floating café offering a range of refreshments.
And if the mood takes you, why not organise a short canal boat trip in advance of your arrival? It’s a step back in time and a wonderful way to witness our industrial history ‘up close and personal’.
Walking and Cycling
If you have time during your stay in Birmingham, hiring a bike is a fantastic way to see the city’s many beautiful parks and waterways. Brompton Bike Hire is an affordable, self-service system right in the city centre, with folding bikes available from special ‘docks’ located near New Street Station and Moor Street Station.
Most of the major routes into and across the city have dedicated cycle paths, making it a safe and pleasant experience – as well as the ideal way to keep fit!
The city centre is also perfect for a stroll and there’s plenty to see. Pedestrianised, traffic free areas are everywhere, so it’s OK to relax and take time to look around while enjoying some gentle exercise – and maybe some not so gentle ‘retail therapy’!
A special map with details of Birmingham’s network of walking and cycling routes is available online at: www.visitbirmingham.com/travel