Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Farewell to the builders

You may, in an idle moment, have clicked on the Photos link and gazed with a wild surmise at the pictures of the rebuild of Ruislip Manor Station. The epoch that they depict is gradually becoming history. The colony of Portakabins, clustered about like the besieging tents of the Assyrians before Jerusalem, has dwindled away as the builders wind down and steal into the night. The yellow diggers and tractors delight us no more as they grind up and down the man-made slopes of mud. The roofs are on the platform shelters, the exposed cabling is tucked away and passengers arriving at the station entrance are now greeted by a large CCTV screen showing them what the back of their heads look like.

Work continues around the fringes of the site but it no longer makes any impact on those of us who use the station. I have given up expecting the electronic information signs to give us any useful information. All in all things are back to roughly where they were before all this started, in January 2005.

There is one general trend that is slowly becoming apparent. This is the increasing lack of contact between passengers and station staff. I no longer go to the ticket window to renew my season ticket. I go to the automated machine and put cash onto my Oyster card. Departing the station, I no longer flash my ticket to the collector but touch the Oyster card to the exit gate. It used to be unusual for there to be no station staff about. Now it is normal, especially at night when the ticket office is closed and the exit gates are often left open. In the place of a friendly face or two, we have a battery of cameras. All part of the sad progression that turns us from “passengers” to “customers”.

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