Manchester Piccadilly used to be a depressing place to travel through; the daytime flourescent-lit and stuffy concourse did nothing alleviate the stress that train travel (in the UK) can often in induce. Thankfully, spurred on by the city’s hosting of the 2002 Commonwealth Games, the station has undergone a transformation; the concourse is now greatly expanded, is naturally lit, open, inviting and the corporate colour of fast food and major newsagent chains no longer seems prominent within its overall ambience. The place even has travelators; a rare sight north of Birmingham I can tell you. Perhaps symptomatic of our mobile obsession, something I noticed that was largely absent from the station was the good old public telephone. I had to ask someone before I was directed to a corner in which three of them hung miserably on the wall. More surprisingly, for all the modernity on display around me, only one of these neglected machines worked.
My experience of Manchester Piccadilly has always been as a place to change trains between my journey from Newcastle to Crewe; now I’ll no longer try and avoid the place by taking an alternative route.