Network Rail set to award detailed design of £550m station refurbishment to Atkins

John McAslan + Partners is to be dropped from the £550m Birmingham New Street station renewal project.

It is understood that Network Rail has decided to award the detailed design phase of the work to Atkins, ending the two-and-a-half year involvement of McAslan and its engineering partner WSP in the project.

A source close to the project said Atkins had secured the bid on cost grounds, partly as a result of losing its Metronet deal with London Underground. He said: “That meant Atkins has the resources available. They can afford to undercut the competition.”

McAslan and WSP have had a troubled tenure since they were appointed to oversee preliminary designs in 2005. Last August they were told to scale back the scheme after the Department for Transport said it would guarantee funding of only £128m, rather than the £350m requested.

A decision on whether it will provide the remaining £222m is a month overdue, but officials are likely to make an announcement within the next few weeks.

The news comes in the same week as the RIBA, on behalf of Network Rail, has closed entries to its competition for concept designers to work on the station’s exterior, which is a separate project.

The institute said an announcement on the shortlist should be made in mid-February. The winner will oversee the conceptual design for the station’s external facade and the atrium roof.

The redevelopment will increase passenger capacity to 52 million a year and remove a notorious bottleneck in the rail network. Birmingham council estimates the station will lead to £1.7bn of economic benefits.

Network Rail will officially announce the winner next week. A spokesperson said: “Officially the companies are still bidding. A decision is expected next week.”