diamond geezer

 Saturday, November 27, 2004

Bow Road update: It's becoming disturbingly clear what the modernisation of Bow Road station actually involves, and it's not renovation. The most visible change in recent weeks has been a proliferation of cables - along the platforms, up the stairs, across the ticket hall - everywhere. They're especially ugly cables, attached to walls by particularly ugly cable brackets, and they're doing nothing for the Victorian heritage of the station. I had been wondering what all these cables could possibly be for, but the answer has come in the form of short swatches of silver tape plastered all over the stairs and ticket hall, each with some special code scribbled on in biro. Some codes indicate new lighting (Light fitting above) and some indicate new electrical equipment (Unswitched fuse for V.E.I.D) but a surprisingly large number foretell the installation of new cameras. And lots of them.

According to the stickers Cam 14 is going at the foot of the eastbound stairwell, Cam 13 halfway up, Cam 12 round the corner at the top of the stairs and Cam 11 and Cam 10 together a few steps further along at the entrance to the ticket hall. Why one stairwell needs five cameras to watch over it is beyond me. If the dozy mare who sits in the booth by the ticket barrier looked up from reading her Metro occasionally, like when yet another teenager is escaping through the luggage gate without paying, we wouldn't need half as many cameras.

Most worrying of all, however, is the sticker at the foot of the westbound stairwell which reads CCTV Camera 43. It appears that tube bosses plan to install at least 43 cameras at this station! What the hell for? It's not an especially big station, but some safety bigwig appears to think that no corner of this station can possibly remain unsnooped. It's not an especially busy station either, with an average of just 5500 users each day, but it looks as though there's going to be at least one camera for every 125 passengers. What an incredible waste of money. This looks like tube surveillance overkill to me, organised by some profligate underground Big Brother figure. Sorry, but I don't feel any safer just because the station supervisor can sit in her new office and flick between 43 different video shots of me walking around her empty platforms. I'd just like some money to be spent on a decent functional station with a lick of paint and a 'next train' indicator that's less than 40 years old, please. Some time in the next four months would be nice.


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