The Ricoh train station – what an utter farce. The Coventry – Nuneaton line has been upgraded and a train stop has been put in to facilitate better transport links to the Ricoh arena, the home of Coventry FC and Wasps Rugby Union as well as a concert and conference venue. It wasn’t the greatest train halt (a platform either side and a glorified bus shelter) but it’ll do the job. £13.6m well spent…except, the train station will be closed on match days for football and rugby! The train operator have decided that with a venue capable of taking 36,500 and trains with seating for 75, it would not be safe for use around the final whistle. What an utter farce. An utter farce those of us who use Dalmarnock station are not completely unfamiliar with.
I used to drive with my dad to games but when, about 10 years ago, parking restrictions meant we walked past Dalmarnock station to get to and from the game/car, taking the train seemed a more sensible option. The service was reasonable although the randomness of the number of carriages meant that often we could have done with the white-gloved passenger pushers you see in clips of the Tokyo underground. The station itself was…functional. It was no different to many others. In need of repair but since Scots tend to whinge but not complain it was accepted. But then came the Commonwealth Games.
For 10 days in 2014 we would have visitors to the city and many would be going to Celtic Park and the Emirates. Whilst a shithole of a station is OK for thousands of football fans to use every week, we can’t possibly have Commonwealth Games spectators come through it. And so the decision was made to spend £12m upgrading Dalmarnock Station.
Closed for almost a whole season, it re-opened when not quite finished. I wrote to Scotrail. The platforms had been narrowed and whilst previously the entrance to the platforms had been at the top, pushing the flow of people DOWN the platform, they were now in the middle, pushing the flow of people across the platform. Capacity on match days had been reduced. They told me the upgrade wasn’t complete.
The new season started and the upgraded and completed station was open – the points I’d been raised were not rectified and the first game saw crushing and overcrowding to dangerous levels (don’t even mention the aforementioned lack of capacity of the trains themselves where every carriage is standing upon standing). I wrote to Scotrail again.
The upshot of spending £12m at Dalmarnock is similar to the Ricoh debacle – millions spent and an unsafe outcome. From a dilapidated station, unmanned in evenings for matches, we now have 4 – 6 staff organizing people flow on the platforms, police at the entrance managing people flow and queues out of the door when the numbers on the reduced capacity platforms are unsafe and police have to stop people going for their trains.
A dilapidated station, left for years to rot because only football fans use it gets an upgrade for a 10 day event and is not fit for purpose for the 26+ times a season when thousands use it to go to and from football.
This happens because we’re ONLY football fans. It also happens because football doesn’t lobby for it’s fair share of the benefits it brings to society…more on that soon but thought for that – what benefit do football fans get for the £70m PER YEAR that we pump into Glasgow?