Saturday, November 30, 2002

The recently betrothed Sasha Castel links to a ludicrous (but true) story about how a disabled woman in a wheelchair was forced to travel to Luton airport and back, total journey time two hours, in order to get from one platform to another at City Thameslink station in the heart of London, as this was the nearest station with working lifts.

As background, The Thameslink line through London, which was being travelled on here, is an interesting piece of engineering. A couple of decades ago, engineers figured out that it would be possible to divert trains from the Midland main line, which until then had stopped at St Pancras, into a disused 19th century tunnel through the centre of London, across a bridge over the Thames, and then onto existing lines to Brighton and Wimbledon. This was done with very little expenditure, amd ot was very clever that the engineers got anything al all working. That said, the infrastruction on that line iscompletely inadequate. (This is particularly the case at Kings Cross Thameslink station , which should be the major station on the line with massively redundant facilities where Mrs Bates should have been able to change from one side to the other. However, the station is small, cramped, and inconvenient).

There are plans to upgrade this link, in order to provide longer platforms, better station infrastructure, better signalling to allow more trains per hour, an entirely new station at St Pancras to interchange with other trains, and a link to the East Coast main line, so that trains now terminating at Kings Cross can also go through the tunnel. As a demonstration of the efficiency of planning, this project is called "Thameslink 2000", because when it was first proposed the thought was that it would open in 2000. As it is, we haven't even got to the stage where it has full parliamentary approval to proceed. This is ridiculous, especially as one would think it is a complete no-brainer in terms of benefits, and because it is clearly needed to provide connections once Channel tunnel trains (and domestic trains from Kent using the new high speed line) start coming into St Pancras. However, the ability to just get rail connections built in Britain is sometimes lacking.

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