Tuesday 17 November 2009

Platform performance

When I went to visit my in-laws between Christmas and Hogmanay last year, I was pretty appalled at the state of the trains and the stations. I don't spend a lot of time in English train stations as a rule, but I do spend a fair amount of time in Scottish ones. It seems there's more of a distance between them than I thought!

Anyway, to get to Derby, I had to change at Crewe. The journey hadn't been great up until then; the train turned up several carriages short, leading to fractious disputes about reservations, luggage everywhere, no food, and some badly behaved wean deliberately trying to open the loo while I was in it. And then I arrived at Crewe. It was dilapidated, dirty, the cafe was expensive and the food poor. The chocolate brownie I chose had all the appeal of nibbling on a charcoal briquette. I'm really not surprised to see Crewe up there on the list of dismal stations, and I hope investment comes before I need use its platforms again! What interests me is a remark on the difference in Scotland:
The champions argued that Scotland had avoided the problem of poor stations by organising funding more effectively over a number of decades.
A welcome comment on Scotland's way of doing things. Our major stations are quite nice: Waverley, Central and Queen Street have had a lot of cash spent on them, and they look the piece. Once the Central hotel project is completed, Glasgow Central really will be the jewel in Scotland's railway crown. I don't mind waiting at Stirling, which is pretty, with a proper waiting room and vending machines. Stations along the Perth-Inverness line are very picturesque, and those in the central belt pretty functional.

From recent visits, I feel Perth and Inverness could do better; I've not been in Aberdeen or Dundee for some time, so I can't comment on them. Most stations I use are well kept and clean - there's a guy at Alexandra Parade most mornings ensuring there's no litter. The stations can be a bit glum though. Most don't have waiting rooms or indeed any kind of ticket office (which is fair enough given the number of people who go through them) and they're not much to look at. I think the notion of community involvement where appropriate could be a workable one, particularly when you see the work of groups like
Friends of Walkden Station. This shouldn't be about maintenence on the cheap of course, but stations could be made a bit prettier.

I have four train stations in my ward - High Street, Bellgrove (where the name of the blog originates!), Bridgeton and Dalmarnock. The latter two are the more dilapidated, although there are plans to spend significant sums of money on Dalmarnock as part of the Commonwealth Games regeneration. I believe Clyde Gateway are also hoping to improve Bridgeton station. These are very different stations, and could all do with a bit of investment. I'd be happy to hear from constituents who have any ideas for improving them.

No comments: