As savvy shoppers head to Birmingham for Black Friday weekend bargains, passengers are being advised to plan their journeys, with hundreds of thousands of people expected to choose to travel in and out of the city by train.

Nearly three-quarters of a million-people passed through Birmingham New Street station between Thursday and Sunday when the German Christmas market opened for 2018 last week.

This weekend, when the market once again coincides with Black Friday (23 November), extra staff will be on hand to help guide people through the station during busy periods.

On Black Friday last year more than 242,000 people used the station – 70,000 more than a usual Friday.

This Sunday (25 November), also sees Birmingham’s first football derby of the season, with Aston Villa hosting Birmingham City at Villa Park in a midday kick-off.

Patrick Power, Network Rail’s station manager at Birmingham New Street, said: “The Christmas market, Black Friday and festive attractions are great for Birmingham but marks the busiest time of the year for Birmingham New Street station, putting significant pressure on staff to safely manage much higher passenger numbers and sudden surges of people trying to catch their train.

Our advice to passengers is allow extra time to make your train, don’t rely on your last service and check before you travel. There will be extra staff in place across the station to provide advice and information and help keep passengers safe.”

To help ease pressure on station staff during peak times, passengers are advised to leave plenty of time to make their journeys, not rely on the last train home, and check before they travel.

As with previous years, queuing systems may be used at exceptionally busy times to safely allow people to board their trains home.

Passengers are also being urged to think ahead and plan their journeys if they will be using the rail network over Christmas.

As part of its Railway Upgrade Plan, Network Rail will be carrying out improvement work across Britain between 24 December and 2 January which may affect journeys.

Passengers can plan their Christmas travel at www.nationalrail.co.uk/christmas; for specific Birmingham New Street station information follow @NetworkRailBHM or check with your train operator.