Maximum Human Discomfort.
This is the phrase which came to mind today as I wandered around Liverpool St station. I wanted to pee – but didn’t have the 30p in change needed to go. I wanted to sit but there are perhaps 20 seats in the whole place. I wanted a café and there’s only a micro-Costa in a far corner.
25 minutes passed this way until the relative comfort and relief of the 1530 to Norwich. Does it have to be this way?
Do London stations have to be this bad (Kings Cross is just as bad?). Staff are dour and unhelpful should you need them.
They could all learn lessons from another main line station – Stowmarket.
As an experience, Stowmarket station is actually gratifying. Not just adequate but a positive contribution to ones day.
It starts with the staff. All helpful and empathic to the needs of the traveler. The shop is well stocked and sells cups of tea for a quid and employs the friendliest person in East Anglia on the till. The toilets are a dream. Pristine, hot water, towels. And free to all station-users. On the platform there is a lovely waiting room, all warm and nice-smelling.
But overall the experience of using Stowmarket station is one which recognizes one as a human being. In this sense it is additive to total happiness in the world.
By contrast, a place where you can’t pee, sit or relax is the opposite. Miserable, inhuman, nearer to a cattle-market than a key travel centre of the UK, Liverpool St station captures the very worst of this country.
When people ask me why I live in Suffolk, Stowmarket station is up there on my list of reasons.