Network Fail

[Picture of train station stairs]LET’S FACE IT: RAILWAYS ARE RUBBISH.

I recently watched with horror as an elderly man with a stick tried to cope with the stairs down to an east-end railway station, and I just wondered how any mum with a pram would be able to manage to use this so-called “public transport” service.

Railways are definitely for able-bodied people only — and they seem to be required to additionally be reasonably fit and healthy too; getting the train is not for the faint of heart, let me tell you.

Buses often have a low step to help people get on and off, quite a lot also have wheelchair access, and all have provisions for prams. The newer bus stops have raised kerbs too.

When are we going to own up to the fact that the era of the train is over? They do not have staff, the costs are high, it is risky and frightening, and completely the opposite of “user friendly”. To improve things, they would have to completely redevelop the stations at massive expense, and I just don’t see that happening in a million years.

[Picture of Pollokshields East Station in Shawlands]Presently stations are dark, dank, stair-filled, exposed places — a place for winos and druggies, neds and yobs. The picture to the left shows Pollokshields East station’s stairs on a bright, sunny afternoon — a massive and steep flight of steps takes you to a landing where you can head off to the right or left under the bridges where the pigeons and starlings live and shit. It is too dark to get a picture even during a sunny afternoon, and the lights merely cast scary shadows against the blackened, mossy dripping wet Victorian walls.

Stations are always either sited a lot higher or a lot lower than the entrance from any road, so this is typical — imagine dealing with a pram! If that is bad, a pram and a toddler would be too scary to bear thinking about. A zimmer or crutches is impossible, as would be any form of wheelchair.

For goodness sake, it is bad enough trying to cope with high heeled shoes!

The railway network is denied to a massive number of people, this is a serious prejudice indeed. If we cannot fix the problem, we ought to either shut them down and turn the tracks into roads, or at the very least, own up to the truth.

The first step of which would be to stop including trains in discussions about public transport, particularly about viable alternatives to the car!


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