Conceptualising differently-mobile passengers: geographies of everyday encumbrance in the railway station

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1 Social & Cultural Geography ISSN: (Print) (Online) Journal homepage: Conceptualising differently-mobile passengers: geographies of everyday encumbrance in the railway station David Bissell To cite this article: David Bissell (2009) Conceptualising differently-mobile passengers: geographies of everyday encumbrance in the railway station, Social & Cultural Geography, 10:2, , DOI: / To link to this article: Published online: 26 Jan Submit your article to this journal Article views: 2770 View related articles Citing articles: 47 View citing articles Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at

2 Social & Cultural Geography, Vol. 10, No. 2, March 2009 Conceptualising differently-mobile passengers: geographies of everyday encumbrance in the railway station David Bissell* School of Environment and Technology, University of Brighton This paper develops ideas of differential mobility at the scale of the everyday by investigating some of the complex relationships between mobility and immobility; facilitation and encumbrance when moving through railway stations. Drawing on in-depth qualitative research with rail passengers in Britain, the first section explores the entangled relationship between differently-mobile bodies and the station by considering some of the tensions that emerge between experiences of encumbrance and facilitation. Focus here is on how navigating through the station with different mobile objects, or prostheses, impacts on passengers in a variety of ways. Drawing on insights from science, technology and society studies, it demonstrates how moving with different objects gives rise to fluid apprehensions of both mobile objects and the built form of the station itself. However, and importantly, this section suggests that this fluidity also has the capacity to disrupt the intended affective dimensions of the built form. The second section explores how differently-mobile passengers move through the station with these mobile objects. Drawing on de Certeau s notion of tactics and Ingold s idea of the taskscape, this section pulls out some of the practical knowledges that, through repetition, develop into skills and techniques for moving. In doing so, this paper seeks to illuminate some of the complex relationships between mobility, prosthetics, encumbrance and affectivity that emerge when moving through the railway station. Key words: mobilities, embodiment, railway travel, tactics, knowledges. Introduction Within contemporary social and cultural geography, and the social sciences more broadly, mobilities are high on the agenda. Yet far from celebrating unrestrained mobility, an ideology that is perhaps implicit in many mobile metaphors coined by social scientists such as liquid modernity (Bauman 2000) and space of flows (Castells 1996) which suggest that places, events and people are subsumed within ceaseless movement, many geographers have turned their attention to the relative movements of bodies where stasis and *Correspondence address. School of Environment and Technology, University of Brighton, Brighton BN2 4GJ, UK. ISSN print/issn online/09/ q 2009 Taylor & Francis DOI: /

3 174 David Bissell movement are not oppositional (Cresswell 2003, 2006). Echoing Urry s (2000) mobilities/moorings dialectic, research within social and cultural geography on mobilities and everyday life has increasingly been interested in exploring the complex relations between differential experiences of mobility. These debates are broadly framed around discourses of pace (Hubbard and Lilley 2004); the relational politics of speed and slowness; and the emergent experiences of mobility and immobility that these relations effect (Adey 2006). These relations can occur at a range of scales, yet each is underlined by the contention that the speed of some is premised on the slowness of others. In this vein, many researchers have been interested in how relative mobilities are implicated in the power-geometries of everyday life, where the movement of privileged groups of people emerge at the expense of less-privileged groups (Ahmed 2004; Kaplan 1996; Massey 1993). The liminal landscapes of transport terminals that have arisen and facilitate many of these large-scale mobilities play an active role not only in shaping, but also exposing these differential mobilities. As Crang (2002) argues, they force us to consider how terminals facilitate the privileged mobilities of some but encumber others. An oft-cited example of this is how the trusted, regular business-class travellers at airports are not subject to the same long and laborious surveillance strategies that other unknown and therefore potentially risky bodies may pose (Adey 2004; Crang 2002). As such, we can consider how the mobile experience of the speedy transnational business class passenger or kinetic elite (Graham and Marvin 2001) is superior to the economy-class passenger who is more often than not encumbered by delays and the discomfort of crowds. Others have highlighted the moral economies of movement where the repression or exclusion of movements by subaltern groups, such as the homeless and beggars, are brought to light (Cresswell 2006). Mobility within these transit spaces is therefore highly unequal. Understanding this heterogeneity of passenger experience is central to achieving a more nuanced account of the contemporary mobile experience for those caught up in these spaces of flow. Railway stations, perhaps even more explicitly than airport terminals, exemplify this heterogeneity. Indeed they have often been characterised as presenting a microcosm of the urban life since it is a place where tourists, commuters, salesmen, retailers, train-spotters and the homeless converge (Edwards 1997: 21). Perhaps railway stations far more than airports are more fully integrated into the wider fabric of the city, particularly in light of their increasingly commercial functions (Bertolini and Spit 1998; Letherby and Reynolds 2005). Or as Gaultier puts it slightly more romantically, these [c]athedrals of the new humanity are the meeting points of nations, the centre where all converges, the nucleus of the huge stars whose iron rays stretch out to the ends of the earth (Gaultier in Dethier 1981: 6). Rather than conceptualising all passengers who move through these railway stations in a uniform manner, this paper develops these debates at the scale of the everyday by focusing on the complex relationship between mobility and immobility; facilitation and encumbrance when moving through railway stations. From a related perspective, this paper aims to complement research firstly within feminist geography which has sought to expose the differential embodied experiences of public transport from an everyday perspective. Wajcman (1991: 129), for example, has argued that whilst proportionately more women use public transport, in many ways

4 Conceptualising differently-mobile passengers 175 public transport is not suitable for their needs and seems tailored towards men s convenience. Echoing two intersecting themes integral to this perspective (see also Law 1999), she argues that the physical burden of undertaking the multiple trips that often characterise women s daily time space maps, together with the problems associated with fear of sexual harassment both limit mobility and create a very different experience of spaces of transport that can be mapped out along gender lines. Secondly, in a related vein, this paper complements research within geographies of disability which has sought to critique ablest conceptualisations of space (Butler and Bowlby 1997; Gleeson 1999). Referring to the construction of particular typologies, Imrie (2003: 47) argues that the user of buildings and the wider built environment has often been reduced to a specific type or even ignored in Western (or modern) architectural theories and practices. By appreciating differential mobility as people move through space from this perspective serves to illuminate the multiple relations that emerge between differently-mobile bodies and the built form (Imrie 2000a). As such, differently-abled bodies have different capacities for moving through space. Here, the ease of physically moving through the railway station and how these various movements are experienced practically by passengers on the ground differentiates passengers from an embodied perspective and invites us to attend to the ways in which space is negotiated and used in different ways. This is not an incidental task, as Imrie and Kumar (1998: 358) point out, for some the built environment is hostile in that it is infused with able-bodied values, like steps or restrictions on entry to buildings, which serve to exclude or produce discomfort or nuisance. This notion of encumbrance is mirrored by Oliver (1996) who points out how the built form privileges walkism over non-walkers. Prioritising design for the mobile body (Imrie 2000b: 1641) in spaces of public transport can pose significant problems for those who are mobility-impaired and, as such, can result in transport exclusion (Hine and Mitchell 2001). Furthermore, infrastructure barriers are also experienced by sight-impaired passengers whose mobility through the station is often dependent on the assistance of others (Jones and Jain 2006: 141). These imaginings of differently-mobile bodies from an everyday perspective rely on an appreciation of difference as practically enacted and felt through particular bodies. These differential mobilities emerge through the everyday, embodied experience of passengers as they move through these spaces. This paper develops these ideas of differently-mobile passengers from the perspective of embodied experience, not just as an allegory or metaphor for a modern condition, but by looking at how a range of differently-mobile passengers firstly experience and secondly move through the railway station. However, rather than apprehending these differences through the lens of gender or disability, in focusing this paper around the idea of mobile prosthetics, I consider how passengers are constructed through particular body object configurations that have the capacity to expose some of the tensions between facilitation and encumbrance when moving through the railway station. This paper is based on a three-year empirical research project which investigated the everyday experiences of long-distance rail passengers in Britain, focusing principally on the East Coast Mainline between Edinburgh and London. Research specifically for this paper draws on semi-structured interviews with fortysix passengers. Interviews were conducted away from spaces of the railway journey and the selection of passengers reflected a range

5 176 David Bissell of age, gender, familiarity with railway travel and motivations for travelling. Recruitment of participants was achieved firstly through contact with a large organisation in Gateshead whose employees frequently travel to London; secondly through requests on internet-based railway newsgroups and passenger forums; thirdly through chance encounters during autoethnographic participant observation; fourthly through snowballing from other participants who recommended me to talk to colleagues, friends or family. As such, this paper aims to illuminate the value of passenger testimony in understanding the everyday experience of railway stations along this particular route. Drawing on and presenting qualitative evidence from passengers throughout this paper serves to reveal some of the subtleties and nuances that might be overlooked in other forms of narration. The first section aims to explore the entangled relationship between differently-mobile bodies and the station by considering some of the tensions that emerge between experiences of encumbrance and facilitation. Focus here is on how navigating through the station with different mobile objects, or prostheses, impacts on passengers in a variety of ways. Drawing on insights from science, technology and society studies, it demonstrates how moving with different objects gives rise to fluid apprehensions of both mobile objects and the built form of the station itself. However, and importantly, this section suggests that this fluidity also has the capacity to disrupt the intended affective dimensions of the built form. The second section explores how differently-mobile passengers move through the station with these mobile objects. Drawing on de Certeau s notion of tactics and Ingold s idea of the taskscape, this section pulls out some of the practical knowledges that, through repetition, develop into skills and techniques for moving. In doing so, this paper seeks to illuminate some of the complex relationships between mobility, prosthetics, encumbrance and affectivity that emerge when moving through the railway station. Fluid prosthetics From a historical perspective, during the nineteenth century, there was a tendency to view the railway passenger as a de-individualised and atomised parcel of flesh, shunted from place to place just like other goods [where] each body avoided others (Thrift 1994: 200). In this model of subjectivity, where the passenger is moved through the railway machine, the body is processed rather like an inert commodity. In a similar vein, through the use of biological metaphors, Raynsford alludes to how the passage of early twentieth-century passengers through the station was paralleled with the movement of blood coursing through the human body. Here, domestication of the crowd-as-nature required a reconceptualisation of the station as a circulatory apparatus (1996: 6). Important here is how, in spite of a lack of differentiation between bodies, the relationship between passengers and the built form of the railway station is one of mutual entanglement, or a machenic complex as Thrift (1994: 197) puts it. Indeed, critiquing the notion of groundlessness, Ingold points out how it is though, for inhabitants of the modern metropolis, the world of their thoughts, their dreams and their relations with others floats like a mirage above the road they tread in their actual material life (2004: 323). Instead of conceptualising bodies moving across or above the surface of the station, through their movement, passengers are wholly entangled and embedded into the fabric of the station. Indeed this relational

6 Conceptualising differently-mobile passengers 177 conceptualisation requires that we think about the composition of the passenger from a more fleshy perspective which problematises the boundedness of bodies within these spaces. Whilst Thrift (1994) argues that railway travel as a new technology of the nineteenth century extended the capacity of bodies by expanding their geographical frame of reference, this paper considers how the capacities of bodies are both extended and curtailed by the objects that they travel with. Importantly, this paper foregrounds the idea that passengers are always distributed through the entanglement of bodies and objects that are carried through the railway station in a variety of configurations. With reference to these objects, Gell (1998: 68) argues that they are the congealed residue of performance and agency in object-form, through which access to other persons can be attained, and via which their agency can be communicated. Whilst the location of agency for Gell ultimately resides in the human subject, I want to suggest that these objects carried with passengers through the railway station have the agency to transform and mediate the experience of movement in a variety of complex and often unforeseen ways. Whilst Watts (2008) lucidly describes the multiple configurations and implications of a distributed personhood during the train journey itself where the body is relatively sedentary, here I suggest that various mobile prosthetics also play an active part in creating differently-mobile passengers in the railway station. It is perhaps surprising that these objects bags, suitcases, holdalls and other associated mobile prosthetics have rarely featured in the burgeoning geographical literature on processes of mobility. Yet these objects that travel with passengers are often the things are most reminiscent about the embodied experience of moving through the station. Rather than attending to their specifically material form, the descriptors baggage and luggage are frequently used symbolically as metaphors to describe particular sets of negative affective relations between people, objects and spaces at a variety of different scales. For example, contrasting with the description of emotional baggage carried by individuals (Jones 2003), many postcolonial writers describe the symbolic associations and objects that constitutes the colonial baggage of entire nations which need to be unpacked (Adams 1999; W. Bissell 2007). This is not only a process of attending to negative baggage but also a process of taking responsibility, for example, where particular disciplines need to wake up and own up to [their] colonial baggage (Van Dommelen 2006: 109). In each of these metaphors, luggage emerges as an encumbrance that requires attention and resolution. When moving through the railway station, luggage as a particular body technology assemblage often takes on similar negative connotations as an encumbrance. Indeed when looking at transport exclusion, Hine and Mitchell (2001: 323) discovered that there was agreement that travelling with luggage made trips exhausting and stressful. These objects inscribe themselves on to and into the body, forcing us to consider how the burden of encumbrance is distributed through the body, materially and symbolically; since human bodies are marked, maimed, constituted, conjured, extended and wounded by both the physical and auratic properties of commodities (Jain 1999: 32). These strains register in our muscular consciousness (Bachelard 1986) in different ways: Me: So do you travel with much luggage? Leanne: Well I don t like travelling with suitcases and every time I do, it reminds me how uncomfortable

7 178 David Bissell train travel actually is [laughs]. It is just a real pain to be honest and quite literally, you can just feel your whole body hurting like it s been bashed around. Why should you have to put up with that? As this passenger describes, rather than the extension of human agency through the forms of technology that supplement it (Seltzer 1992: 171), the station, through the weight of luggage, presses into and temporarily debilitates the body. This elides with Armstrong s (1998) notion of a negative prosthesis where the effect of the prosthetic object is at odds to the body. In contrast to Watts contention that packed passengers are highly mobile (2008: 10), moving with luggage can therefore be immobilising, painful and uncomfortable. As such, the station is not only perceived through vision, but also through the muscular tensions and strains felt through straps on shoulders or handles gripped by hands. Yet the effects of these mobile prostheses are complex since whilst luggage might temporarily debilitate the body whilst moving through the station, it simultaneously enables passengers to transport items for use at either end of their railway journey. To an extent, this aligns with Gibson s notion of the affordance where a particular object can provide benefit or injury (1986: 140) to the body. Although heavily critiqued for underplaying social dimensions (Reed 1996), the notion of the affordance is useful in that it views perception as emergent through practice rather than something that is already structured prior to an event. In this case, moving with luggage could be conceptualised as a deferred affordance in that whilst increasing the quantity of possessions carried might increase the experience of encumbrance when moving through the station, they might also allow increased facilitation in other ways at the destination. This deferred affordance might enable an increased ensemble of possibilities at the destination, as de Certeau (2002: 98) puts it. This relationship between encumbrance and facilitation is perhaps based on what Scarry terms consensual materialism (1994: 97). Indeed when considering the anxiety induced by parting with luggage in the airport as it disappears into the often-fallible airport baggage-handling system, the encumbrance of travelling with luggage through the railway station might be offset with the knowledge that one s belongings are safe at-hand. When thinking about airports, luggage might equally encumber in its absence. Alternatively, we might consider how the presence of luggage but the absence of its owner-body in the railway station has the capacity to encumber on a much larger scale such as through the sparking of security alerts. Luggage as corporeal prostheses are therefore involved in a complex relationship of rapport which fluctuates between desire and antipathy; perhaps based on what Scarry calls volitional positioning where we continually incorporate, then repudiate, then reincorporate the artefact (1994: 97). Perhaps more succinctly, this aligns with Michael s view that the affordances of any technology are always, at least potentially, ambiguous (2000: 112). Nevertheless, and in spite of this ambiguity, since these mobile prosthetics temporarily extend the spatial volume of the body, they also have the capacity to transform the degree of self-consciousness experienced by passengers. As this passenger, who travels between Newcastle and London infrequently, implies, whilst he is familiar with the spatial boundaries of his body without luggage, he is not used to negotiating space with his new extended body: Robin: Also when I ve got a big bag with me I kind of feel self-conscious where I m going to be going especially on the London Underground that when

8 Conceptualising differently-mobile passengers 179 you re walking about, you re going to be bumping into people and it s just very awkward to get it about. So I prefer to travel with as few pieces of baggage as possible. Here, he describes a heightened sense of selfconsciousness where his position in relation to other bodies is evaluated to a greater extent. This is a reflexive awareness of being differently-mobile, an effect that can work in a number of different ways. It might prompt the realisation that their particular mobile body is different. Alternatively, it might heighten a sense of empathy for others who are more permanently encumbered, as described by this passenger: Jill: It always makes me think, well... that train travel must be so much more difficult for people who aren t very mobile. Then I try and stop moaning on! You know it really makes you realise how pleasant trains are when you don t have to take big suitcases. This complex relationship between encumbrance and facilitation is explicitly temporal. The object assemblage created by these prosthetic objects is transformed by the location at a particular time. Thinking around science, technology and society studies (STS) and drawing on actor-network theory, we can conceptualise the prosthetic object as a set of relations that gradually shifts and adapts itself rather than one that holds itself rigid (Law and Singleton 2005: 339). Important here is an appreciation of the mutability and fluidity of these differently-mobile passengers: differently-mobile not only in the sense of their heterogenous relations between each other, but also their differential mobility through time. Despite an appearance of rigidity, where these mobile objects are designed to withstand the pressures inflicted by the journey, the body object as a mobile prosthetic is a mutable mobile (De Laet and Mol 2000) in that over time its physical shape changes. At home, bags get packed, things get added and luggage expands to fill space. Here, luggage might operate as a charged container in that it holds a set of belongings that prepares for and materially gestures towards a set of places and events that will be experienced, to some degree of predictability, in the future. Yet during its journey through the station, the shape of the luggage transforms. Here, rather than concerns over capacity and how many possessions will fit, the wheel surface interface together with the handle become the dominant concerns as luggage becomes a wheeled object. Alternatively it might become a leaning post; or a convenient at-hand seat as described by this passenger who travels regularly with his bicycle between Cambridge and London King s Cross: Me: Have there been times when you ve used waiting rooms at Cambridge or King s Cross? Aaron: Very occasionally. Having the bike makes it slightly more complicated erm, you know if you could just lean the bike against a wall and keep an eye on it I suppose there might be a reason. I ve used the shelters on platform 1 a bit. But mainly I just lean against my bike and wait for the train. Other mobile prosthetics might act in a rather different way. Whilst a bicycle acts as a mode of transportation on the way to the station where the body experiences sensations of uplift and freedom (see Spinney 2006, for example), through the station, the body object assemblage changes shape and movement becomes more uncomfortable. Instead of smooth, onward motion, the rhythm of the body and bicycle becomes somewhat clumsier, uncertain and restrictive:

9 180 David Bissell Me: Ok, and if the train s not there, would you kind of wait? Terry: If the platform s been announced then I d go to the platform. Cos I always make a point of getting to the London end of the train, especially since I ve got a bike, it s particularly more comfortable to do it that way. Even if you don t have a bike but with a bike, it becomes even more uncomfortable [emphasised]. You don t want to be pushing it through crowds. For this passenger who travels regularly between Cambridge and London for work, a bicycle, far from providing uplift or freedom in the station, is a source of discomfort and restraint. Indeed we could think about a whole series of other mutable mobiles that change their shape as they move through the station: purchasing a hot drink at a retail outlet then standing or sitting still to drink might constitute a pleasurable experience. But when movement is added into the equation, and particularly if other luggage is being carried, the hot drink becomes an unpredictable mobile hazard, with the potential of boiling liquid splashing on to the skin. This relationship between mobility and stasis therefore adds an additional layer of complexity when thinking through how mobile prosthetics both encumber and facilitate passengers movement through the railway station. Just as the effects of these prosthetic objects change depending on their location, moving with objects enacts a parallel transformation of the spatiality of the station itself. Certain body object configurations restrict access to particular areas of the station. Whilst there might be spaces that have to be traversed in order to travel such as using the ticket office to purchase or collect travel documents, passengers encumbered by heavy or bulky objects might be less willing to attempt to traverse other spaces which are not essential to undertaking the journey. Specifically, such spaces might include retail outlets which are often crowded and have small aisles, creating additional discomfort for these passengers. This echoes Imrie s (2003: 47) contention that planners and architects design to specific technical standards and dimensions which revolve around the conception of the normal body which does not take these prostheses into account sufficiently. As this passenger, who occasionally travels for business between Newcastle and London, notes, having luggage can restrict particular movements: Maxine: I decided that my suitcase, albeit on wheels, made me decide not to do that so I did in fact go and get the train straight away... it would be a lot better if you hadn t got the luggage! You know carrying this wheelie suitcase around there, I did it but no, it wasn t easy. It doesn t invite you to go and do other things when you ve got luggage. Yet this exclusion also intervenes in wider issues about the affectivity of the railway station, or the types of impersonal force field (Dewsbury 2009) sensed by passengers, that particular spaces of the station are intended to generate. Similar to the shopping mall where designers seek to environmentally condition emotional and behavioural responses from those whom they see as malleable customers (Goss 1993: 30), commercial outlets in larger stations are designed to engineer particular feelings in passengers to encourage them to shop (see Adey 2008 for a similar discussion on airports). Important here are the sensory, ambient and suggestive dimensions of the built environment where the affectual power of architecture, lighting and surfaces can serve to evoke particular feelings; in this case, conducive to consumerism. Yet the possession of particular prostheses seems able to obstruct these possibilities by diluting or even

10 Conceptualising differently-mobile passengers 181 suppressing the affective cues. The urge to be drawn in to such places is quiesced by the anticipation that, contrary to the intentions of the designers, the experience might actually be rather uncomfortable. Nevertheless, in spite of these exclusions, there are a number of ways in which these differently-mobile prosthetic bodies have been accounted for in the commercial offerings of newer and redeveloped stations. Mirroring the new-wave of in-town shopping centres in the UK (Lowe 2005); remodelled multidisciplinary stations (Ross 2000: 70) owe much of their ideological heritage to shopping mall design. Examples in Britain, such as the newly revamped St Pancras International in London and Manchester Piccadilly, combine the usual functions associated with travel preparation of ticketing and travel information with highquality retail outlets (Modern Railways 2007: 60). However, in contrast to Goss s contention that shopping malls constitute a total retail built environment and a total cultural experience designed to keep them on the premises for as long as possible (1993: 21 22), the retail provision at these redeveloped stations is more sympathetic to the needs of differently-mobile passengers. Planners are extremely sensitive to the needs of the shopper (Goss 1993: 26), recognising that whilst some passengers have time and physical freedom to shop, other potentially cash-rich but time-poor (Graham 2001: 407) or encumbered passengers will not appreciate being caught up and encumbered by a disorientating retail vortex. As such, whilst some retail areas of stations certainly mirror the design of more traditional shopping malls, many retail outlets, particularly those serving food, drink and reading materials, are designed with these encumbered passengers in mind where emphasis is on speed and convenience rather than a lengthy immersive experience. In contrast to other transport terminals such as airports, where retailers can exploit passengers, in the absence of their luggage, and who are generally held for significant durations (Adey 2008; Rowley and Slack 1999), many retail outlets in larger, modern railway stations such as London Liverpool Street are characterised by retail façades where time-poor or encumbered passengers can quickly purchase items from windows whilst remaining on the concourse rather than entering shops. Therefore, where the traditional mall is designed as a noncommunicative space [where] the goal is to trap the consumer in a world of consumption (Goss 1993: 32), the retail function of stations has to juxtapose the multiple, and at times conflicting, ideologies of neoliberal consumer seduction with the regulation and synchronisation of mobility through the pressing itinerancy of timetables, clocks and announcements. Echoing Simmel s remarks on the complexity of urban existence, this is a space where punctuality, calculability and exactness of mobile systems are forced upon life (1950: 413) and arguably forced upon consumption. In contrast to the pull of consumption, the affective pull of other spaces in the station might be rather more powerful when travelling with bulky objects. As the passenger below, who travels regularly between Cambridge and Grantham, points out, spaces that invite passengers to be momentarily sedentary such as benches and waiting rooms might offer a momentary reprieve from the strains generated by moving with these prostheses: Pam: The waiting room at Peterborough? God it s dire, isn t it! Me: Yeah, I think it s getting a revamp soon though those striplights aren t exactly beautiful, I agree! I take it you don t use it then?

11 182 David Bissell Pam: Actually I will, sometimes, use it for a bit cos it s warmish oh and yes, a good place to dump stuff me bags and the like. If I m travelling with Fred, I ll leave him with the stuff and get us a couple of coffees. In contrast to the contention that waiting is an undesirable temporal hiatus (D. Bissell 2007), durations of immobility permit passenger and object to temporarily detach, permitting often much-needed muscular relaxation. Indeed, as Pam suggests, these waiting areas are often rather banal, aesthetically uninspiring, and tucked away from the main circulation areas. They are perhaps exemplary of a concessionary afterthought. Reminiscent of Goss, and replacing consumption with mobility, public services not consistent with the context of [consumption] are omitted or only reluctantly provided, often inadequate to the actual needs and relegated to the periphery (1993: 26). Yet these spaces of immobility and stilling can act as a haven to the encumbered body. Relaxation is therefore not necessarily evoked by particular restful atmospheres fostered by aesthetically-pleasant objects, surfaces or lighting (see Kraftl and Adey 2008); rather it is the invitation to momentarily relinquish these prostheses. This detachment is not the potentially anxiety-inducing detachment of passenger and luggage experienced at airports, rather a soothing detachment where objects are still at-hand. Adding a further layer of complexity, we could consider how the experience of encumbered passengers could be differentiated economically on the basis of their class of travel. Similar to the airport where passenger flows are spatially segregated by class with high-paying executive and club-class passengers being channelled through different parts of the airport to economy passengers (Beaverstock, Hubbard and Rennie Short 2004), many larger stations have first-class lounges, waiting rooms and meeting rooms. These elite spaces are restricted to passengers holding first-class tickets and offer refreshments, soft comfortable seating and an oasis of calm ; an atmosphere of sanctuary reminiscent of an airport prayer room (Kraftl and Adey 2008). For encumbered passengers who hold firstclass tickets, these spaces are designed specifically to facilitate relaxation. To briefly summarise, passengers moving through the railway station are therefore differently-mobile, in part, according to the objects that they are moving with. However, the relationship between these differentlymobile prosthetic bodies and the built environment is complex and requires us to attend to the ways that these prosthetics both encumber and facilitate a variety of practices when moving through the railway station. This complexity emerges from the recognition that these mobile prosthetics are temporally and spatially fluid, or mutable mobiles, in that they transform to act in different ways in different time spaces. Furthermore, the spaces of the station themselves can be conceptualised through metaphors of fluidity in that they accommodate and preclude passengers through their particular body object configurations. This fluidity is particularly significant since it can potentially serve to disrupt some of the aesthetic affective cues that are hardwired into the built form of the station, particularly where consumerism is concerned. The second part of this paper takes this relationship between the passenger and built form further to consider how exactly differently-mobile prosthetic passengers move through the railway station.

12 Conceptualising differently-mobile passengers 183 Prosthetic knowledges In order to understand how these complex topographies of movement are actually played out, it is necessary to think through the extent to which the built form of the station is designed to manage movement. Through modelling and simulation, architects and designers are aware that different passengers use areas of the station in different ways. Indeed, certain spaces are designed to be traversed in different ways, to facilitate or restrict passenger flows (see Markus 1993). Techniques for modelling movement such as space-syntax (Hillier and Hanson 1984) are used by designers to predict differential passenger movements on the basis of choices. This topological perspective is premised on identifying and designing for the needs of different passengers according to a variety of factors including whether they are joining or alighting a train together with how much time they have at the station. Importantly, designing for heterogeneity involves the spatial separation of different passenger groups for quick and efficient operation (Ross 2000) to minimise passenger confusion (Modak and Patkar 1984). As such, certain spaces of the railway station are designed to facilitate the quick and efficient movement of passengers such as the uncluttered central circulation areas which facilitate the movement of passengers from the station entrance to the platforms. Figure 1 is a time space diagram of Newcastle Central station created from the vantage point [X] to the right of the diagram. It follows the trajectories of passengers on the main concourse over a half-hour period during the late morning and illustrates this spatial heterogeneity. One train arrived from platform 2 [A] during this time, and the straight linear flows can be followed to the station exit [B] and entrance to the Metro [C]. Similarly, pulses of passengers emerged from the Metro entrance and station entrance, heading for the platforms or the ticket windows in the booking office [D]. More complex flows can be identified on the concourse [E] adjacent to the departure boards where some passengers stall and others wait or meander, creating an eddy and pool effect. Other station users, including an opportunist thief [F], overlay an additional layer of complexity. 1 Far from reducing the diversity of passengers to a homogenous mobile mass, increasingly complex simulations and models of passenger flows that take into account compound interacting variables including encumbrance (Cunningham and Cullen 1993) assist in drawing out this heterogeneity. This might be heterogeneity from the perspective of walking speed and how variation in walking speeds, in part mediated by luggage, affects passengers route choices around a station (Lee and Lam 2006). Alternatively, heterogeneity of movements might emerge from differential attractiveness of ramps, stairs and escalators (Daamen, Bovy and Hoogendoorn 2005) depending on the level of encumbrance experienced. Passengers route choice through a station is therefore complex and this complexity is significantly influenced by the extent to which movement is encumbered by mobile prostheses. The organisation of these movements is further assisted by a series of affective and disciplinary techniques. Whilst closed circuit television cameras together with the presence of station officials is designed to police movement to ensure that flows of movement are maintained (Koskela 2000; Müller and Boos 2004), semiotic devices such as signage are used to guide passengers to their required destination. Complementing the use of standardised fonts and pictograms, Figure 2

13 184 David Bissell Figure 1 Time space diagram of Newcastle Central station, 31 May 2005, 11:15 11:45. demonstrates how arrows serve to propel passengers forward, promoting an instinctiveness of forward motion (Fuller 2002). These movements are also assisted by predefined channels and routes which are demarcated by railings and dividers, together with different floor surfaces. Affectual cues such as floor texture, light and feel are designed into spaces to encourage particular movements. Whilst Figure 3 highlights how the use of a bounded passageway at Newcastle Central channels pedestrian movement in a

14 Conceptualising differently-mobile passengers 185 Figure 2 Direction sign above main concourse at Newcastle Central, 8 June 2005, 16:13. Photograph by the author. particular direction, Figure 4 illustrates how more expansive smooth, white marble floors at Birmingham New Street can also propel passengers forward. As Pallasmaa (1996) notes, architects are increasingly interested not only in the ways that the built form is experienced haptically, but also how perceptual signals can be built into buildings to influence movement. Yet in spite of these affective and disciplinary architectural devices that are designed to influence the speed and direction of passenger movement through the railway station, for most, the responsibility to actually move, getting from the station entrance to the train is devolved to passengers themselves. Indeed these architectural cues perhaps work more effectively with passengers who are physically unencumbered by objects. For Freund (2001: 697), this prioritisation of unencumbered mobility is symptomatic of modern urban design more generally where poor pedestrian Figure 3 Channelling movement at Newcastle Central, 9 October 2005, 13:59 13:40. Photographs by the author.

15 186 David Bissell Figure 4 Marble surfaces encouraging movement at Birmingham New Street, 7 January 2006, 15:16 15:17. Photographs by the author. signals, short traffic lights, the designs of transport platforms [more generally] materialise an organisation of space-time that favours the quickly and the spry, and disables those who are not. How differentlymobile, encumbered passengers should move through the railway station with their mobile prosthetics is rather less prescriptive. This prompts some important considerations about how encumbered passengers practically get by and cope with moving through the railway station. With this in mind, this section investigates some of the various practical knowledges that are explored, experimented with, developed and refined by passengers in order to move through the station. Here I want to draw on Ingold s notion of the taskscape which emphasises the importance of understanding places as produced through embodied practices. For Ingold (2000: 198), the landscape as a whole must be understood as the taskscape in its embodied form: a pattern of activities collapsed into an array of features. As such, we could consider how the landscape of the railway station the intimate weaving together of bodies, steps, ramps, luggage and bicycles described earlier takes on its significance only through the physical bodily effort that must be undertaken to achieve movement. Central here is the idea that encumbered passengers develop practical tactics for moving through these spaces. Importantly, this is not a process that involves significant calculation and judgement prior to arriving at the railway station. Rather, these tactics are the arts of making do (Crang 2000: 150). They are adaptive processes which are generated through the process of movement-making itself. As de Certeau (1984: 37) states, tactics are a mobility that must accept the chance offerings of the moment, and seize on the wing the possibilities that offer themselves at any given moment. Tactics or practical knowledges are developed through active, exploratory encounters rather than planned in advance. One important tactic might be the adjustment of the body object comportment: the practical manner in which objects are carried. In this example, the passenger wraps luggage around her body. In doing so, she describes how pressure is distributed away from her arms and hands: Francesca: And my briefcase has a long strap which I put around me, so I m not carrying it. And I do the same with my handbag. I have to do it now, cos I can t carry it, you know, I can t carry carrier bags... shopping with this hand. Me: So everything s adapted to that? Francesca: Yes, cos even when it s over my shoulder, it slides down and you end up having to support it. So you ve got to put it across your shoulder properly.

16 Conceptualising differently-mobile passengers 187 This is not the comportment that Taylor (1999) and Young (1980) associate with identity formation and how particular valued behaviours are presented for others to read. Indeed moving with a range of prosthetics can at times be a clumsy and humiliating experience, as described by the passenger below. Rather, these adjustments might occur in response to bodily pressures, perhaps a pain or muscular strain in the shoulder or arm. Equally, adjustments might be a practical response to changes in level such as steps where particular body object configurations that work well on flat surfaces might be more difficult, as illustrated by this passenger, who carries most of his belongings back in a large suitcase when he returns home from university: Omar: Well, if you re asking about my case when I m going back home it s ridiculously [emphasised] heavy. I would just be pulling it with my right hand, yeah, when I m walking across the open bits. Then when you get to the steps to go across to the middle platform, depending if it s very heavy, I might have to give in erm... face it and drag it up the steps with both hands looking like a bit of a tit, I guess. Therefore, rather than being a primarily visual activity which relies on the sustained scanning of the field of vision, as Goffman (1971) would have it, how encumbered passengers traverse the railway station becomes a task that relies more heavily on a corporeal awareness of anticipating, evaluating, and responding to emergent corporeal pains and stresses: Bachelard s (1986: 11) muscular consciousness. Whilst signage and architectural affective cues can help to direct passengers through the station, the actual task of moving with a variety of mobile prosthetics relies on an embodied corporeal awareness. In Ingold s (2004: 332) words, this is the tuning of movement in response to the ever-changing conditions of an unfolding task. Indeed Ingold is quick to point out that this is not an intelligence located exclusively in the head, rather it is distributed throughout the entire field of relations comprised by the presence of the human being in the inhabited world (2004: 332). These mobile tactics and adaptations emerge through the muscular signals of heavy lungs, tense thighs, sore feet and aching hands. However, in contrast to de Certeau s definition of tactics which are subversive, in that they do not obey the law of the place (1984: 29), in the station the law of the place might be rather less defined, as this passenger who only occasionally travels with his bicycle exemplifies: Sean: Then yeah, try and manoeuvre the bike through the crowd of waiting people and through the station. Then wondering whether you can cycle through a station. You know, what are the rules, what are the rules?! Do I cycle? Do I just walk with it? Am I going to be stopped? So then I thought, I ll just cycle I cycled down the platform and out of the station! Are you allowed to? In this situation, the rules and regulations pertaining to conduct in the station with mobile prostheses are ambiguous. Here, it was easier for Sean to cycle through the station, despite being aware that this might not be allowed. Tactics for moving with bicycles therefore emerge on-the-go, utilising this uncertainty to proceed in the most practical way. Yet a tension emerges between the choice of tactic for moving with objects and the surveillance regimes that assist in securing the station. Similar to the shopping mall, railway stations in the UK (owned by Network Rail, a company limited by guarantee), are a strategic

17 188 David Bissell space, owned and controlled by an institutional power, which, by [their] very nature, depends upon the definition, appropriation and control of territory (Goss 1993: 35). Whilst surveillance at most stations relies on human-operation, researchers are currently exploring the implications of new, automated surveillance regimes which rely on visible, traceable profiles that can be automatically monitored. This automatic panopticism, part of what Thrift and French (2002) call the automatic production of space, will be premised on visual identification, classification and assessment (Gandy 1996: 135) of passengers. These systems are based on algorithmic digital recognition where passengers faces become barcodes to be read (Agre 2001), and non-conformist behaviour can be automatically detected (Graham 2005). When the implementation of such systems becomes more widespread, the implication here is that whilst some tactics for moving through the station with luggage might be read as conformist, this tactic of riding a bicycle through the station might be automatically detected as an unexpected behavioural clue (Norris and Armstrong 1999: 220), triggering an alert which requires an operator s intervention. As Thrift and French remind us power is built into software from its inception (2002: 325). The implication here is that there are limits to the range of tactics that can be utilised before movement becomes non-conformist. Central to these tactics is therefore a sense of impromptu ongoing improvisation within a range that is deemed acceptable by management and surveillance regimes. Yet through repeated journeying, these tactics can develop a degree of consistency. Many passengers travelling with mobile objects are not one-off travellers and, over time, might develop strategies and techniques for dealing with transporting mobile objects. Rather than a spontaneous reaction, these strategies become increasingly calculated sets of movements (de Certeau 1984). As such, following Katz, many people develop what they regard as particularly shrewd ways of moving around society (2000: 36, emphasis added). Similar to Mauss s (1973) concept of body techniques, which emphasises how gestures and behaviours develop according to cultural and historic specificities, there is no natural, or singular way of moving with these mobile prosthetics. Strategies and techniques are therefore a tacit, subjective, context-dependent, practical knowledge-how (Ingold 2000: 316). Emphasis here is on repetition whereby techniques for moving through the station with objects ultimately, over time, becomes easier; perhaps moving, as Ingold suggests, from clumsiness to dexterity (2000: 357). In this way, the development of techniques through the repetition and refinement of particular tactics might gradually curtail the degree of encumbrance experienced by the body. Mirroring Butler s notion of embodied rituals of everydayness (1999: ), these habitual techniques are not guided by reflexive thought. Indeed, techniques and skills are typically acquired through observation and imitation rather than formal verbal instruction (Ingold 2000: 316) and therefore cannot be easily translated into textual form. Through repetition, passengers develop particular body-knowledges by learning about their individual bodily capabilities. These might be temporally specific knowledges about how long particular objects can be carried or dragged before they become uncomfortable; or comportmentbased knowledges around how these objects can be carried through particular hurdles such as automatic barriers. Indeed this involves the generation and development of localised, context-specific knowledges about the hurdles

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