Look out folks – “Your station gateway is transforming”. This is a sign at Leeds railway station. What can it mean? Building work is what it means. Accompanied by fences, cones, temporary walkways, barriers, kerbs and all sorts of general mayhem making it pretty impossible not to walk in front of cars. Of the 5 words in that sign 2 seem to be useable in the sense of er, sense. ‘Station’. Yes, OK, you can have that one. ‘Is’, OK, yes, OK in context that too. But what can ‘your station gateway’ mean? Do I have a station? Do you have a station? Do we as a collective have a station? I suppose we kind of do. The station maybe. I’d say ‘railway station’ though ‘train station‘ seems to have taken over. But what is a ‘station gateway’? Is it different to a station? Is it a thing in itself or does it mean the gateway to the station? But wouldn’t that be the entrance to the station? Is it a ticket barrier (have they stopped using the phrase ‘revenue protection barrier’? For the sake of taking the piss I hope not, for the sake of sanity I hope so).
I fear that a ‘station gateway’ is indeed a concept. A ‘destination’ as they say. Translated as a ghastly shopping centre you have to endure on your way to a train. The way the railways are ‘invested in’ by adding cafes and food places rather than actual trains.
It's also ‘transforming’. Do we stand and watch? Is it doing it without help (as in transforming rather than being transformed) – and why is that different to ‘being changed’. It seems that nothing can be changed or adjusted these days, it has to be ‘transformed’. Hence the CEO or head of a charity or college or whatever who joins, has a massively expensive re-structure, decides on a hugely expensive vanity project then moves upwards before the shit hits the fan having ‘transformed the organisation into a basket case. Maybe the station will transform into a big monstery truck or something?
In the case of what will surely amount to adding some shops to the station making the trains really difficult to get to (I expect they think the modern St Pancras is a good thing) I guess the folly will lie in the modern buildings that will look smart for 3 or 4 years before the rust stains and damp patches appear and they get demolished 25 years later to make way for a similar building a few hireable floors higher. And God help us if they still that fashion of putting some plant pots in the walls so they can use the word ‘green’, or even worse ‘sustainable’, in the publicity. Gets it past the Council maybe until the plants all go in the bin 18 months later when the initial maintenance budget runs out. For the moment it’s just a mess…