Bow Road station update: It's exactly a year since Bow Road station was first closed at 10pm every night so that renovation work could (supposedly) take place. A year of early closures, and a year of me having to take a longer route home whenever I've been out late. Had I been mugged on the walk back, which thankfully I wasn't, maybe I could have sued. But in the last fortnight, all of a sudden with absolutely no publicity whatsoever, the station's opening hours have been returned to normal. Trains are now pulling into a very different Bow Road station to that which used to exist a year ago. Take a look.
This used to be a dark, gloomy platform with peeling paint on the walls and a grimy low ceiling. It was unappealing, uninviting and seriously unlookedafter. For eleven months its grubby surface was covered by a makeshift blue wall, screening the leisurely metamorphosis behind. And now, with the protective shell removed, this place has been reborn as a fresh, bright platform with gleaming white panels on the walls and a slightly repainted ceiling. The opposite platform, also newly revealed, looks much the same. All of a sudden, the 21st century has arrived.
Except they promised us it wasn't going to look modern. This station upgrade was supposed to retain all of the station's key Edwardian architectural features. I'm sure they're all still there, somewhere underneath this modern veneer, but both platforms now have rather more of an 'airport terminal' feeling to them. There are little four-seater benches that wouldn't look out of place at IKEA, there's strip lighting that might be found in any office, and there's an artificial white coating covering the full length of each wall. It's even less traditional up the stairwells where giant alien globes have landed, masquerading as light fittings. And everywhere, absolutely every-bloody-where, there are all-pervasive security cameras. I suspect these are to be monitored from the brand new control room that's magically appeared off the ticket hall, which should give the station staff somewhere warm to sit and read their newspapers while they continue to ignore all the passing passengers.
The end of the long drawn-out modernisation process at Bow Road seems (at last) to be in sight. The platforms have reopened, the scaffolding is coming down and all opening restrictions have been lifted. But there's still a lot of mopping up and finishing off to be done, which could take months. And I have yet to be impressed.