At the beginning of the summer we moved house which is a little further out into the Derbyshire countryside and as a result moving further away has meant a compromise and that compromise is the additional journey time into Birmingham.
After 30+ years of being driven to the office in the luxury of a warm and comfortable car by my husband and being dropped off and picked up right outside the office door I now find I am driving myself the 25 minute journey to the station, parking my car (at vast expense compared to the cost of the train ticket) and then catching the 7.20 am to Birmingham New Street with hundreds of other commuters.
Am I complaining? No I’m not because I actually like catching the train, I love to observe everyone, I enjoy seeing the same people on the same platform, catching the same Cross Country train and I wonder where they are going, I try to imagine what they do for a living, whether they enjoy what they do and I love to eavesdrop on the school kids who chatter away.
During the summer months it has been a real pleasure travelling to work which starts with a very pleasant drive along country lanes and seeing the early morning sun rising across the golden fields but this morning everything has changed, it was grey, chilly and dull with an early morning dampness hanging in the air.
The platform at the station was cold and windy and everyone waiting for the train to arrive seemed much more miserable than usual. The morning fight for a seat on the train was particularly more aggressive and I now understand the need to jockey for position on the platform edge to make certain I am one of the first on and to get one of the few available seats. I failed this morning and stood along with around 40 others feeling pretty glum.
I did rather like the vantage point of standing up though. I could read the email the guy was sending to his friend about his night out at the weekend where he got very drunk and lost one of his shoes. There was a man sitting at an aisle seat with his laptop open, his phone constantly buzzing, his notepad and pen spread across the table together with his coffee and pastry. He looked really surprised when someone asked him to move so that they could sit at the only vacant seat in the carriage and which happened to be next to him by the window. What was he expecting I wonder? Did he think no one would ask him to move across, did he do this every morning? Was he really being selfish or so engaged in what he was doing not that he was totally unware of what was going on around him? I saw a girl reading a book called ‘The Girl on the Train’ which I have read and as you might expect is about a girl on a train who observes a girl on a train. This seemed a bit weird to me as I was the girl on the train observing the girl on the train who was reading ‘The Girl on the Train’ – quite bizarre.
Finally we arrived at New Street Station, or Grand Central as it is now known which up until last month was always a bit of a disappointment. It was once voted the worst station for Customer Service and for most a very poor first impression of Birmingham City Centre. Many of us had been waiting for the unveiling of the £550m redevelopment plan which had been very cleverly kept under wraps behind giant hoardings for a very long time whilst the redevelopment was going on behind the scenes.
Now when you arrive and as you travel up the escalators what you are met with is an amazing place which is really bright and exciting. The architecture is stunning, the Atrium is magnificent and allows the natural light to shine through to the concourse below and sited at the three main entrances are three state of the art ‘media-eyes’ which are most impressive.
Grand CentraI Station has a real buzz about the place and although I have yet to venture into the amazing array of shops the morning food smells wafting across from the various food outlets are mouthwateringly delicious.
Well done Birmingham it has certainly been worth the wait but a few more carriages on our trains at very busy periods would just brighten everyone’s day even further.