WHEN I started using the trains about 20 years ago, mainline stations were nothing to write home about.

You would be lucky if they had an unlocked toilet, let alone a place to get a cup of tea while waiting in the cold.

These stations have come an awful long way since then and most have shops, cafes, waiting rooms, a bicycle storage area and even bars, Manchester Piccadilly being a wonderful example of a dramatic turnaround.

Last week I heard about an innovative plan to make even more use of (and profit from) mainline stations. After a successful trial in Milton Keynes, Network Rail is set to roll out its Doddle business to 300 stations across the country.

This will allow people to buy something online from a variety of retailers and collect it from the station.

More impressive still, the centres will have changing rooms, so those snapping up clothing will be able to try on their purchases and, if they do not fit, send them back there and then.

We do not yet know where the Doddle centres will be, although the first ones will be in the South East, at London Waterloo, London Cannon Street and Brighton. Hopefully, the service will soon arrive at Bolton station.