WTO. Davos downer.

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FOXTROTS

   Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance. 

2007 November 21

    

WTO. Davos downer.    

We have criticised in some detail the inaction of the World Tourism Organization in respect of climate change and the travel business. (This excludes of course, the WTO’s many, frequent, consistent, and insistent calls for action…)  

Its Davos event in October (don’t be fooled by the location; the only decision made was that ‘something must be done’, ‘we have a responsibility’, etc), was opened by a high-ish personality from the Swiss government.    

(Don’t mention that. Because it should have been a high person, not high-ish. After all, Switzerland is not very important, so ‘high’ here means ‘high-ish’ for a more important country.)    

In his opening and welcome address, the representative stressed “the need for fostering the full use of the adaptation potential of the tourism sector and supporting market-based off-setting mechanisms”.    

Maybe the WTO and you now know what to do. Me? No idea.     

The Fox

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St Pancras. Low marks.

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 FOXTROTS  Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance. 

2007 November 19

St Pancras. Low marks.  

I went through St Pancras the day after it opened as the London station terminus for Eurostar. Probably like most other visitors, I was there to catch a train, and not necessarily to say how wonderful it was.   My trip was within the UK, and I arrived at the station from the London metro.

The signs to the new entrance to the station still require steps for travellers to haul their baggage up – did the St Pancras designers not know that a good share (40%?) of passengers would be travelling with bags?   Next, I saw the signs for St Pancras ‘International’ with ‘International’ in slightly-different colour.

So I looked for St Pancras Domestic. Fortunately I soon realised that SPI was the name of the station, not a particularly part of the station.   I finally arrived at a sign saying ‘UK trains’. So I followed this down through a long hall, passing by the Eurostar international section. But the signs stopped, and then I realised that the escalators in the middle of this hall were for passengers taking UK trains.

There were no signs (zero) indicating where the escalators went to. I arrived at this conclusion by deduction.   At the top of the escalators I finally saw the trains, and that I had 30 minutes before my train left. Plenty of time to get a ticket…but where? No signs.

I asked a staffer, who directed me back down the escalator, then double-back, then right. That was a verbal instruction; there were no signs to support this. There were no signs saying something like ‘Tickets’ – until, that is, I got into the ticket hall. Then there is a sign saying ‘Tickets’.

The definition has now changed; it was no longer ‘UK trains’, but simply ‘Domestic’.   With my ticket, I went back upstairs and stood around waiting until the platform and train was opened. At this point, travellers just stand (although there are about 20 seats); there are no shops or vending machines or mobile coffee points. Nothing. For that, travellers must return to the end/beginning of the hall.   

The notice board told me my train left from ‘Plat’ 3, although there is enough space to write ‘Platform’ about three times. For foreigners who might not have learned that Plat means Platform, surely it is worth the effort to add the other four letters?   

 

Verdict?

I entered this station knowing it had been reopened the previous day, but I just needed to use it. I found it not very good.   I will be told that these minor faults are teething problems. They are not. They are essential parts of the design function. The station is not a statement of grandeur; it is a functional traffic place. St Pancras International, even if beautiful (which is in the eye of the beholder), is not.   

 

The Fox