I was on a train recently, on the new Borders line on the way to a meeting. It’s probably the third or fourth time I have used that service. It’s great to have that line restored and seemingly well used by local people and visitors to the area.
It will have made a huge difference with those with a need to travel to the area from Edinburgh, or vice versa. And it has opened up all sorts of opportunities in terms of employment, leisure or education with much reduced travel times to the capital compared to a not especially good road connection.
Something I find myself reflecting on each time I have used the line is the brutal functionalism of the new stations that have been built in comparison to the Victorian and even pre-war splendours of the station buildings we see elsewhere on Britain’s railways. Let’s gloss over the post war era’s products in the main.
While functional is I suppose all we need in terms of public buildings I think we might do more to reflect on the fact that most of what we build will last for decades and maybe centuries. We, 150 years on, still gaze in awe at Waverley or St Pancras. Will our descendants feel the same sense of admiration for our achievements in terms of more recent school, hospital or transport infrastructure developments?
When I look at Brechin Community Campus or Montrose Sports Centre I am not that unhappy. But some more recent construction projects have been less than pretty.
Maybe I am just a romantic when it comes to old buildings?