Bow Road update: It was exactly one year ago today that the renovation of Bow Road station began. The arrival of four blue portakabins heralded the dawn of London's first PPP-funded station upgrade, and also the start of my regular blogging updates on daily progress. For the first eight months there was little progress. For the last four months stuff has actually happened. But still not much. For the full annual overview, please visit my special dedicated webpage.
And then last week, finally, all of a sudden, we got the first glimpse of the new improved Bow Road station. Overnight workmen whisked away the long blue wall that's been stretched along the eastbound platform since May, revealing the new completed station wall behind. The old wall used to be covered by peeling off-cream paint. The new wall is covered by 79 panels of gleaming white plastic-y stuff. There are eight red and blue station roundels spaced out along the full length of the wall, which is topped off by a row of repeating station names beneath a green and pink strip. Step off an Upminster train and your eyes now meet this elegant modern canvas, free from adverts, graffiti and clutter. It can't last.
But, quite frankly, one nice wall and a few repainted pillars isn't much to show for a year's work. There has been a lick of paint throughout the ticket hall and across the upper reaches of the station, there are several new cameras and loudspeakers in every nook and cranny, and there are two rows of new lighting along each platform that maybe one day will be switched on. But take a look at the ceiling in this photograph and you'll see that most of the station is still as grimy and unloved as it used to be twelve months ago. You might also be to spot that the blue walls are still fully intact on the westbound platform (right), and I can assure you there's absolutely no evidence whatsoever that any gleaming white walls are ready to emerge from there in the near future. In fact I've not yet seen one single innovation at Bow Road that actually improves anyone's journey. If you want to know when the next train is due or where it might be going, you're still better off peering down the tunnel to see if there are any headlights in the distance. Transport for London say that the whole Bow Road upgrade project will be complete by next May, maybe. Don't be surprised if my updates are still continuing this time next year.