The recent opening of Brent Cross West station in North London marks a significant milestone in the advancement of London's transport network. I had the opportunity to visit the station on its inaugural day and witness first-hand the blend of modern architecture, engaging initiatives, and potential for future growth.
While the timing of the opening was unfortunately marred by slippery surfaces due to heavy rain and a limited Thameslink service due to engineering works, the station’s overall design and atmosphere impressed me greatly. The sleek, modern structure has been planned to integrate into its eventual surroundings, creating a welcoming and inviting environment for passengers from the new Brent Cross Town development.
One of the most notable aspects of the station opening in particular was its commitment to engaging with younger audiences. Information posters and activities geared towards young people were up, which I think demonstrates a positive effort to foster their interest in public transport, and potentially a career on the railway in the future (which we are desperately in need of).
This opening and these celebratory events align with Enroute’s mission to promote a more inclusive and accessible transport system for all members of society.
However, one aspect that raised concerns was the absence of a ticket office or any cash-paying facilities. While contactless payment is increasingly becoming the preferred method for many commuters, especially in London, the lack of alternative payment options could pose difficulties for those who rely on cash or cannot use contactless payment methods, including Oyster cards, such as the 1 million UK adults who are ‘unbanked’. Ensuring equitable access to public transport is crucial for fostering a truly inclusive national and city-wide network.
Despite these challenges, the opening of Brent Cross West station serves as a testament to the importance of investing in new transport infrastructure. The station’s design, connectivity, and overall ambiance demonstrate the potential for transport infrastructure to serve as a catalyst for community development and economic growth across London, and across Great Britain.
In addition to the physical infrastructure, the presence of events and celebratory activities at the station opening also highlights the significance of celebrating transport investment. These events can significantly enhance the public perception of transport projects like Brent Cross West, fostering a sense of civic pride and appreciation for the role that transport plays in our daily lives.
While the opening day of Brent Cross West station faced some hurdles, the station’s architecture, ambiance, and commitment to engaging younger audiences set a positive precedent for future transport infrastructure development and celebrations. The station’s potential to serve as a hub for connectivity and community engagement is promising, and Enroute will continue to advocate for equitable access and innovative transport solutions that benefit all Londoners and all Brits.