The station is a Grade II listed building, so the new roof had to closely match the original design. One difference which was allowed was the use of clear glass rather than the frosted glass used in the original. This will let more natural light onto the concourse, providing a better environment for passengers.
Richard O’Brien, Network Rail’s route managing director for Wessex, said: “This is a great example of how we can improve stations for passengers at the same time as preserving Britain’s rich rail history. The station now has a better environment and ambiance which we hope will make a positive difference to passengers passing through it. We thank people for their patience while we carried out this upgrade.”
Jake Kelly, customer service director for South West Trains, said: “Portsmouth and Southsea station will now be far more welcoming for passengers, benefitting from a beautiful new wooden roof and more natural light entering the building.”
The construction of the new roof took teams of engineers around 30,400 hours to complete and involved:
- Fitting 1,300 panes of glass – approximately enough to cover 4½ tennis courts
- Laying 38,000m of cable – enough to run along the railway between Portsmouth & Southsea and Littlehampton
- Placing 10,000kg of lead – the equivalent of six Ford Fiestas
- Installing 6,500m of timber – enough to reach the Isle of Wight if laid end to end
- Adding a bright finish to the roof using enough paint to fill around 3,500 pint glasses
The project also included the installation of a new energy-efficient intelligent lighting system. Passengers will notice that lights are only on when they are needed, and when they are on they automatically adjust depending how bright it is outside. This is not only helping reduce the cost of running the railway, it is more environmentally friendly, which could save up to 18 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year – the equivalent of seven average cars being taken off the road.