Sunday 23 February 2014

On The China Station

As the various situations in the world become ever more testing and dangerous the media politics we are offered becomes sillier and far removed from either the realities or the risks. 

Big Osbo the paperhanger is on a trip East to a G20 caper in Sydney in Big Oz after bashing, bullying and berating the Scots.  He has been on a stopover in Kowloon to take in China and Hong Kong, where there are long memories of the Brit's, especially Scots, doing the same there in the long past.

"Chinese" Gordon is one of the major personalities of the past we have taken care to forget along with other brave and benighted men who built the Empire.  In reality the Empire resembled a lot of erratically controlled government Agencies not all of which turned out to be howling successes.

China has built some spectacular railways, along with parallel huge property developments and other things.  It seems to have vast wealth which it has deployed into colonising parts of Africa as well as buying up bits of Europe.  But there is a problem.  How much of this is due to unsustainable credit or not we could be about to find out.

Apparently, Osborne has become fixated with the idea of for the new HS2 railway building a bigger, much bigger and better Euston Station in London.  The railway history buffs will recall that the history of this station is decidedly chequered.  The first big Euston took a long troubled while to build and while a decent train shed with some handsome features had its working problems.

A major reason for this is that the project was under way when not only was London expanding rapidly, but railway technology was advancing fast.  So the grand new Euston had great difficulties to face in its management, notably persistent overcrowding and delays as time wore on and many more parcels and commuter trains were needed.  I remember it well.

When British Railways was created one of their first, and government blessed projects was a total rebuild of the station and surrounding complex.  This was quickly seen as vandalism by many especially with the wanton destruction of the Euston Arch for no good reason other than Prime Minister Macmillan's desire to be seen to be positive.

The present 1960's Euston is a horror and one of the worst stations to travel from and to, moreover it was built on specifications drawn up in the steam age.  As soon as it was finished the West Coast Main Line was promptly electrified, which radically changed the working patterns of train movements.

The suggestions for a new mega Euston will disrupt the trains and the general area for years, will cost an enormous amount and is highly unlikely to ever yield any real return on investment.  For something like this to be built on specifications drawn up now but which will not finish perhaps for nearly 20 years is a high risk plan at the very least.

So while Osborne is in China saying that my train station is a lot bigger than yours; as he looks over the immense changes at Kowloon he may need to remember that China can change and very likely will.

Also, that it may be in the future rather fewer of us will be able to afford to travel much at all.


  1. "fewer of us will be able to afford to travel much at all."

    Maybe we will need to travel more slowly to eke out the fuel.

  2. And when our driverless cars arrive - whither rail?