Spotlight: University railway station

Unity is proud to be made up of three partners that are committed to giving back to the communities they work alongside. A prime example of this attitude is exemplified by VolkerFitzpatrick and its delivery of the new University railway station at the University of Birmingham.

Meeting demand

This essential upgrade is necessary for the station as passenger numbers have increased by a staggering 700% since it opened in 1978. With the advent of HS2, this capacity is expected to increase to around seven million passengers a year by 2042. The £56 million development will also be of national importance, as the station will form a vital part of the facilities and infrastructure for international events taking place in Birmingham.

Since the announcement that VolkerFitzpatrick would be carrying out the works, the project has met two major milestones. In September 2021, the station’s new concrete superstructure was completed, consisting of 1,500 square metres of concrete and 403 underground foundation columns. The project also took a big step forward in October 2021, with the installation of a new canal bridge linking the new station to the university campus.

The next step in the development will see the relocation of the temporary site offices in March 2022 to allow the public realm and landscaping works to commence and installation of the canopies on platform 1 and 2.

Inspiring the next generation 

VolkerFitzpatrick is committed to creating cohesion between the projects it delivers and impacted communities, which can be seen in the key pillars and themes of its People-Planet-Purpose sustainability framework. Pillars in the sustainability framework include Climate, Purpose, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, People and Charity, Volunteering and Community Engagement, which echo and compliment Unity’s core belief that projects should leave a lasting legacy.

VolkerFitzpatrick’s People pillar can be seen in action, providing opportunities for young people, especially through the business’ apprenticeship and graduate programmes. As a company, they are committed to the 5% Club – a commitment that ensures that a minimum of five percent of its workforce is made up of apprentices, sponsored students, graduates, or those in formal studies.

These commitments and initiatives have continued as part of VolkerFitzpatrick’s work on University railway station where the project is benefitting from the dedicated work of apprentices. Already, there are three apprentice engineers and one apprentice surveyor, all of whom have been offered jobs with VolkerFitzpatrick once their programme is complete.

Ainsley, a student from The National College for Advanced Transport & Infrastructure, undertook a six-week paid work experience placement with VolkerFitzpatrick on the station programme. While working on the project, VolkerFitzpatrick facilitated several practical experiences for him which included how to deal with concrete deliveries, uploading measurements onto their CAD system, and making cube samples and curing them, ensuring they were lab ready. These experiences enabled Ainsley to take the next steps in his professional journey. Opportunities such as this give young people the “real life” experience that new starters into the construction industry really need.

United to make a difference

Our partners are pushing and striving to be the very best and are setting new benchmarks for community support and social value in the construction sector. VolkerFitzpatrick’s efforts to inspire a new generation of engineers and leave a legacy as part of the development of the new University railway station are just two examples of the many successful ways of working and best practice that are being drawn on from all three of our partners here at Unity.