This weekend should have been the final weekend of renovation work at Bow Road station. Back in March when this whole redevelopment debacle began they promised us that our station would be fully reopened again by October 26th. Oh how I looked forward to admiring the gleaming new surfaces and restored Victorian architecture. Oh how I longed for a platform indicator that actually told you when the next train was due, not just where it was going. And oh how I dreamed of being able to use the station again after 10pm, rather than having to walk home late at night from the next station down the line. But no, all my aspirations have been dashed (or at least put on hold) because the brave new Bow Road station is not yet ready. Not by a long way.
It's not yet clear when the work will be finished. I'm indebted to a local correspondent for pointing out that nobody at Bow Road appears to be sure either. He's sent me photographs of four different posters at the station which give four different completion dates (and look, they're all in dg-approved colours!). The tube website until recently offered a different date ("until 26 October") until they updated the site to give yet another ("until the end of February 2005"). Some sort of campaign of public misinformation seems to be underway, raising our hopes just to dash them again when the due date arrives and the work is no nearer to completion. Further official details are now apparent, however:
The first of these extended weekend closures merely resulted in some cable ducting being attached to the stairwells and a line of fluorescent tubes being bolted to the ceiling. The second seems to have been devoted to replacing the lighting in the ticket hall and draping a mass of black cables along the passageways and through a wall. It looks like a colony of giant snakes have taken up residence in the rafters, dangling down and weaving in and out of the ironwork. This is no sensitive Victorian reconstruction, this is infrastructure installation on the cheap. The station actually looks more unattractive than it did before redevelopment began and, because it's now much better illuminated, this just makes the ugly modern intrusions even more obvious.
The rebirth of Bow Road station should be complete in four months time, so they tell us. I remain to be convinced that the end result will justify months of inactivity and inconvenience to long-suffering passengers. Or indeed that this mismanaged fund-squandering fiasco of a project will ever reach a satisfactory conclusion. Watch this space.