There is change afoot within my work environment, nothing is ever really permanent, as we move through the final stages of yet another contract. As I sit on the Victoria line this morning, stationary in the pipe as we wait for another train to clear the platform, it reminds me of the warm and quiet subterranean nights of London. I no longer have a choice of old or new rolling stock as there is only the stock now, as accepted as the sun coming up in the morning, their teething troubles behind them they are a feature of the London metro.
The long nights, restless weekends, crisis’s, panics and endless deadlines are passed and we have achieved what many often thought we couldn’t once again. There are tasks to complete, actions to close and opportunities to investigate but our product is surpassing all but our own expectations as we look to the next herculean task for tomorrow’s challenge. Our production line is dismantled, project team disbanded and our offices abandoned to the dust bunnies and ghosts of fraught exchanges past. Opening the door to our office allows a breath of air to idly turn discarded paperwork yet to be cleared by the next incoming project.
Whilst the nomadic nature of big project introduction is not to everybody’s taste for some of us it gels neatly with a low boredom threshold providing regular refreshes to challenge. For me one of the best things about my chosen career is the privilege to be involved in such huge and iconic projects and to share in the hidden history of the infrastructure that we otherwise take for granted.
I was reminded today, at Euston, that not all of the metro is a seamless mass of humanity controlled by almost ethereal forces. Euston is one of the older mainline terminals in the city and even before you surface from the metro you can sense that the crowd is lost, something interrupts the unheard signal and they lose their way. It has always been like this, a combination of erratic spaces, oddly placed portals and awkward information results in confusion and the crowd loses purpose, like sleep walkers awoken mid stroll they lose direction. The loss of common purposes is amazing to watch, not one clear path exists in the milling crowds as the criss cross and deflect each other like balls on a billiards table. If ever you want to understand the value offered by those that design public spaces and evaluate passenger flow this is a very good place to start, you couldn’t make it much worse if you blindfolded them.