BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘New Street’

#365daysofbiking Station to station: Left baggage

Wednesday 16th February 2022 – The weather was stormy and unpleasant to ride in, and when I left Telford where I’d been working there was driving rain carried on a wind honed on Satan’s back step.

I decided to cut my losses, and hop on the train to Brum, then change for another to Four Oaks and ride from there.

This is a journey I used o do twice a day, multiple times a month, but since the pandemic made trains such a strange experience I only really travel on them one way, between Wolverhampton and Telford in the mornings. It was a strange experience – how did I ever put up with all that waiting around?

I miss it, I really do, especially the views, and the late-night feelings thing of railway stations at night I’ve written about before. Things are clearly a bit more normal now than when I stopped this time-suck of a journey at the beginning of the pandemic. Back then New Street in particular had become a hostile, unpleasant place with next to no commuters and very few services. At least it seems alive again now, and you can get a coffee.

It was while downing a double espresso to pep me up for the push from Four Oaks that I took time admiring the night view of metalwork, lights and machinery from under the access bridge on platform eight.

I’ve spent so much time here over the years, and I left it behind, barely noticing. It was strangely nostalgic and emotional to do the station to station hop once more.

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#365daysofbiking Dead quiet

March 18th – Every day the streets are a little bit more dead. People are wary of each other. Public transport is emptier and emptier as worried people abandon their journeys and work from home.

I had to go to Telford.

I’m using sanitiser, obeying instructions. New Street and the train services I caught were eerily quiet.

This is a momentous time, yet it feels like it’s arriving by stealth. While everyone is… Out.

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#365daysofbiking – The ends of the day, beginning

February 12th – Really getting back into the swing now, but tiredness is a big issue, it has to be said.

Up at stupid o’clock to get a train to Leicester, not many were around New Street Station when I arrived before the commuting day was really kicking off.

I like this place empty, it’s atmospheric and oddly beautiful.

All I needed now was a train…

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#365daysofbiking Trapped in my steelwork

January 13th – Spring ended with a bump. Leaving a meeting in Birmingham late afternoon it was wet, windy and cold.

On a deserted platform at New Street I waited for a train home. The service seems to have improved a little. It was only five minutes late. And mercifully warm. Praise the lord.

I was half expecting to be buttonholed by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street on the train on the way home, explaining how hard he’d worked to sort the trains out and how I should therefore vote for him.

Thankfully, I wasn’t harassed by Brum’s very own Charles Hawtrey tribute, but it did take a while to get back. As I stood with my bike on the train, gently and rhythmically rattling over miles of steel through the January night, I felt down that there were still weeks of wet, cld and dark commutes like this still ahead.

But they will end, the light will always creep through. The steel, light and shine of New Street by night will once more be a rare treat, and not the trap it seemed like this evening.

Tonight it just looked frighteningly inevitable.

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#365daysofbiking Festive colour

December 6th – Every year I swear will be my last visit to Birmingham’s annual Frankfurt German Market. After catching an almost identical one in Leeds in 2018, I’d concluded that these things were just a concoction for tourists selling all the same tat every year.

However, whenever I’m presented with the reality – the smell of food, the noise, the colour and spectacle – my heart melts and I really enjoy a potter around. I’ve found the best time to go is at night, midweek: Busy enough to be fun, calm enough to be tolerable.

I never buy much – save for the obligatory meaty and sweet treats – but I enjoy the frenetic beauty of it.

I must say, the people who lit it and New Street this year did a cracking job.

Merry Christmas Birmingham!

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#365daysofbiking All kinds of wrong

November 28th – For once, the trains weren’t too bad.  It was, of course, still a rain-sodden day and I was tired and wanting to be home.

I stood and waited and took three shots of what I could see: The exaggerated perspective and vanishing points – the people, crowding tensely but oddly patient – the train, engorging with people wanting to be home like me – the sleek, dripping machines waiting peacefully beneath their feast of wire.

New Street Station is still, and probably always be a conundrum to me. I both adore it, and loathe it. It’s like a bad mother to me: It may be all kinds of wrong, but it’s still mine.

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#365daysofbiking Train in vain

November 12th – A terrible day commuting to and from a job in Birmingham. It was wet, cold and the trains were very, very broken. Waiting more than an hour for a train out of Birmingham to get home, it was nearly eight before I got in.

New Street still retains it’s machine-like beauty at night, even when every light you see is red; but good lord, it’s frustrating.

The suck this year seems even worse; not only is it in the traffic and on the darkened roads, but the trains are bad, too.

I’ll be glad when Christmas comes, if I’m honest.

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#365daysofbiking Subterranean sunny station blue

March 28th – Always nice to get a glimpse of blue, sunny sky from the dark platforms at New Street Station in Birmingham.

Today I was waiting for a connection early, and although there were loads of trains, there weren’t seemingly too many people around. I killed time with a snack, and peered up out of the tangle of steel, concrete, wires and machinery to the surrounding architecture – always fascinating, always in transition.

And then beyond that to a blue sky – and even in this urban morass devoid of anything natural – the promise of a beautiful, sun-dappled spring.

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#365daysofbiking Oddly empty

February 5th – Passing through Birmingham New Street Station on my way home, it was rush hour and the place was rammed, as usual.

Being a cyclist, I tend to hang out ant the periphery of the crowd, better to not get in the way.

I looked to my right as the train came in from my left, and realised that at peak time, the station had nobody visible and all the signals were on red.

A few seconds later, people appeared and broke the spell…

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