‘Travel Diaries From Around Birmingham’

Michaela Hodges- Walking and train

I work part-time at The University of Birmingham Main Library, and I volunteer for two Birmingham based charities, one of which is Birmingham Friends of the Earth! This means I make a number of different journeys each week.

Two days a week I volunteer in the BFoE office. To get there I walk, which takes about 25 minutes. I tend to take a route which takes me past the Museum, the Town Hall and through Victoria Square. I like to do this because although it takes a little longer it’s nice to see the old buildings and be reminded that there are parts of Birmingham that are pleasant to look at. The journey itself, I have to admit, is a little boring. Although I make most of my journeys on foot, I don’t really enjoy walking for itself, so I tend to walk quickly wherever I go. This is not too much of a problem, because as I tend to come in to the office for about 10am, most of the commuter crowd has abated. As such, overall I enjoy my walk to BFoE, the fresh air wakes me up and I can at least pretend I’ve done some exercise that day, which means I arrive refreshed and self-righteous, which is a good way to start any day!

Two days a week I get the train to Birmingham University, this takes, overall, about 45 minutes. First, there is a 20 minute or so walk to Birmingham New Street, this is much the same as the walk described above. The Navigation Street entrance (that comes up from the B end of the platforms) is the quickest way for me to enter the station; going to the front entrance would take me an extra 10 minutes. There is supposed to be someone selling tickets at the entrance, but the regularity with which someone is actually there seems haphazard to say the least. A semi-permanent desk has even been put in place now, yet despite having a desk from which to sell tickets, the ticket sellers themselves are still absent. It means going to the front entrance anyway, which is made slightly quicker by being able to go through rather than around the station, but is still a nuisance. This is the most frustrating thing about my journey.

What annoys me about it the most is how completely unnecessary it should be for me to go on a long-winded ticket hunt. As far as I can see the problem could be easily rectified with the placement of some self-service ticket machines at this entrance. There may well be some reason why these haven’t been installed, but I struggle to see what it is myself! Since a lot of smaller stations in Birmingham don’t regularly check tickets as travellers leave the stations, my concern would be that people don’t buy a ticket as opportunity to do so is restricted and the chances of getting caught are limited. Everyone should pay for their journey, ticket prices will only go up if train companies also have to accommodate the cost of people travelling without paying, but equally, if we want people to pay for tickets it should be easy to do so!

Still, once I’ve gone through the station to the main entrance and bought my much sought ticket, I can get on my train and get on with my journey. I actually quite like this part, I enjoy train journeys, it’s a chance to sit down and read a book for a moment, a little bit of time to myself before work begins. The train only takes about 10 minutes, and then I’m at University station, which is a 5/10 minute walk away from the Main Library where my day will really begin. It is always a pleasure to walk around Birmingham University campus, particularly for a nostalgic recent graduate such as myself, and the library is in fact my favourite building on campus. So I’ve reached my destination and, aside from the ticket fiasco, the journey is pleasant enough!

‘Travel Diaries From Around Birmingham’