Since then I’ve been trying to find more details. But I’ve failed. There just don’t seem to be any details out there. The best I’ve managed to find is on Martin Linton’s website is a suggestion that Clapham Junction should get a big share, but without any reference to why he makes that assertion.
That details can’t be found perhaps isn’t that worrying of itself. It was only a week ago that it was announced. However, it’s a bit concerning that it’s so difficult to find any reference to how the decisions will be made. Do the individual stations bid? Are they just allocated the cash? What if the stations, collectively, need more than £50 million?
The money is a response to the Rail Champions report. Reading through Lord Adonis’s blog of his tour of the ten worst stations he seems to suggest the problems at Clapham Junction are things like the lack of escalators and that the platform canopies do not cover the entirety of the platform. He also mentions the need for an entrance at bridge level, which, of course, is already being planned (with some investment from Wandsworth Council).
These are the sorts of things that might be changed relatively cheaply. But they aren’t the fundamental problems that need to be addressed.
To my mind, and I think anyone who uses the station, the real problems are capacity – of the tunnel linking the platforms and of the trains serving the station. While the proposed Brighton Yard entrance will go some way to alleviating the pressure in the tunnel it might only be at the expense of new congestion problems on the footbridge, an antiquated structure that I suspect is well overdue replacement. And there’s a good chance that the problems will get worse once pay-as-you-go becomes valid next year, as a huge group of travellers become eligible to pass through the Clapham Junction gates.
Guido Fawkes blog suggests the investment is linked to politics – 9 of the 10 stations are in Labour held seats, and the tenth only became Conservative in a recent by-election – than it is to any serious desire to improve transport. (A counter argument to that, which has some merit, can be found on Hopi Sen’s blog). However, given that less than a week before Putney Station (not one of the worst ten) was announced as getting in excess of £10 million investment it begs the question of whether the £50 million was more about buying PR than a genuine attempt to help the country’s worst stations.
It might be a start, but it’s significantly less than other – considerably less needy – stations are getting. It’ll be interesting to see the details when, and if, they are published.