London’s transit story of the week—if not the year—was Tuesday’s re-opening of St. Pancras rail station after £800 million (that’s $1.6 billion) of renovations.
Not only does the station provide London with a new terminus for a high-speed 300km/h rail link to Paris and Brussels (with a planned stop at the 2012 Olympics site in east London along the way), but it also upgrades the city’s regional and suburban rail connections and improves access to six of the city’s underground lines.
As covered in Londonist, the re-opening ceremony featured a speech by the Queen, musical accompaniment from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, a performance by R&B singer Lemar, and—no doubt—plenty of applause from the assembled politicians, transit workers, and enthusiasts. Overlooking it all was a recently unveiled nine-metre-tall bronze statue, “The Meeting Place,” by Paul Day.
It’s an inspiring event for people who care about transit anywhere. The preservation and refurbishment of a Victorian Gothic building that was once threatened with demolition for being an eyesore. A gala celebration of international, regional, and municipal transit. A new installation of public art. Rail stations located on the basis of their regenerative potential for the surrounding neighbourhoods. Leadership and funding from a national government that saw transit as an investment in their main city and, by extension, their country. Partnership with the private sector to raise funds and to operate the system. It’s what transit can be, and with a little luck, it will rub off on Toronto.