Perth, being in the middle of Scotland’s railway network, is somewhere that all too frequently I find myself changing trains.
The trains south from Inverness generally go to either Edinburgh or Glasgow, and to get to the one your train is not going to, you change in Perth. Rarely is this a problem, because timetables are such that you’re left hanging around for no more than a few minutes.
The Dundee line, however, is a completely different matter. For some reason, nobody believes that anyone wants to travel between Inverness and Dundee (or in my case, has to for work – I am still unconvinced of the merits of visiting Scotland’s fourth city voluntarily). Therefore the changes in Perth can be as long as an entire hour.
I had the misfortune of this on Wednesday. In the cold, dark, windy rain.
Perth railway station is a bland and soulless place at the best of times – dull grey and brown architecture, and nothing to see or do. The cafe is truly dreadful, with tea that tastes like dishwater. There’s not even crowds of people to provide some people-watching to pass the time – after all, nobody else is going from Inverness to Dundee.
And yet, it’s not an entirely offensive place – it’s not oppressive, unduly ugly, badly-designed or difficult to find your way around. It’s just… devoid of character, lacking in atmosphere, and rather than aggravating the senses simply numbs them.
It’s like like the Coldplay of railway stations.
I have no idea if purgatory exists, but if it does, I imagine it would look like Perth railway station.