The driver of the taxi asked why I was heading out so early. I had told him the train time. He replied, I was “going to station with nothing there.” I said all was well. He repeated that the South station was bigger. The North station is new. Nothing there.
On arrival, I exited the car and strode into the mammoth station. The same station had been visible for miles before. It towered over fields and stood out against the distant mountain backdrop. Construction sights lay to the south. The future, planted over land. Towering carcasses of homes yet to be lived in.
The small station door opened to a gargantuan air-conditioned palace of seats and emptiness. Little life lurked within. A few stragglers ahead of their train sat in the bright space, gloomily surrounded by thoughts and little else. Two places to buy snacks and food shone light outwards. Little else, but the beaming display screens gave any sense of activity. A list of a dozen trains spaced throughout a long barren day highlighting the newness of it all.
After a brief wait, a mouthful of terrible coffee and a chicken-based something or other, I descended to the platforms below. Through one of four gates marked a route to the ten platforms beneath. Four future platforms failed to hide their newness and dust. My gate, 2B, stretched wide before passages led down shiny steps and a string of escalators beating the sound of passage.
The long platform stretched under the concrete mass above. Polished tiles on the footway stretched hundreds of yards each direction. A dozen railway train carriages could fit under here, ten times over. Each tenth of the station could welcome and bid farewell to hordes of people, masses of commuters, and reunite the long divided souls of relationships come and gone.
The platform edge, trimmed in white and yellow, displayed floor electronic information boards, guidance, and warned of peril beyond its edge. Each rail beneath and cable above a guide for the monstrous intercity trains. I watched as the smooth gliding train rolled seamlessly along rails into a wide pit beneath the station platforms. It crept to a silent halt. The few passengers boarded. I waited until last. I stepped on board. The journey begins.