Tuesday, January 15

Welcome to London!

I caught the Eurostar to Paris this week from the new St Pancras International station in London. The station was opened on 14 November last year, marking the completion of a new 108 km high-speed rail line from London to the Channel Tunnel. High-speed means exactly that. Passengers can now race through the English countryside at 300km/h. My train from London took an impressive 2 hours, 11 minutes to reach Paris.

St Pancras International is incredible. The original building was opened in 1868. Build by the Midland Railway Company, its design was chosen primarily to outclass all the other stations in London. At the time its 74-metre single span roof was the largest of its type. Today, this broad expanse gives the station a wonderfully airy space - a sensation enhanced by the light, sky blue colour used to paint its restored rafters.

The restored platform is decorated by two iconic fixtures. The first is a grand clock suspended over the platform. Below it sits a 9-metre high, 20-tonne bronze statue of reunited lovers in a warm embrace. Nearby a second smaller statue of John Betejeman can be found gazing up at the roof. This artwork immortalises the man who led a successful campaign in the 1960s to save St Pancras from the wreaker's ball. I'm grateful for his efforts. London now has a wonderful new gateway to Europe - one far more welcoming than cluttered Heathrow.

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