The Anonymous Widower

Is Liverpool Planning To Invade Manchester By Train?

There is no love lost between the two North-Western cities of Liverpool and Manchester.

I must admit, that I do use the correct feelings towards Manchester, when I’m in Liverpool, as Liverpudlians like it!

In the October 2015 edition of Modern Railways, there is an article about Merseytravel looking for a new fleet of trains for their 750V DC network, which is entitled New Trains For Liverpool. This is said.

Merseytravel has indicated that it will be seeking ‘innovative proposals’ from manufacturers, with considerable emphasis being placed on the overall cost of operating the fleet rather than just the basic cost of the trains themselves. Options such as regenerative braking and onboard systems to store energy under braking to be used for acceleration will attract particular interest. The independently-powered EMU (IPEMU or battery train) concept evaluated earlier this year on a modified Class 379 in East Anglia ,might see an application here.

It does appear on a quick look, that a version of the new Aventra train, which comes with an IPEMU capability as standard might be suitable for Merseyrail, as the size and speed of the current Class 507 and 508 trains, don’t seem to be unusual like some trains of their age.

The trains would need to be dual voltage, so they could work on both electrical systems on Merseyside. But then Bombardier can handle that!

Surely, if the trains were IPEMUs, I can’t believe that Merseyrail would not use their capabilities to provide extra services to new destinations.

Ormskirk to Preston

In my meanderings yesterday, I twice passed the bay platform at Preston, which is the terminus of the Ormskirk Branch. This branch is about twenty miles long and is a monument to the British Rail Crap Design School and  is detailed in the line’s History section in Wikipedia. This picture shows how I once changed trains at Ormskirk a couple of years ago.

Changing Trains At Ormskirk

Changing Trains At Ormskirk

Note the barrier between the two trains.

If Merseytravel’s new trains, were IPEMUs, they would be able to provide a continuous Liverpool to Preston service via Ormskirk.

Dual voltage trains would be needed so they could use the different power systems at the two ends of the line.

Kirkby to Wigan, Bolton and Manchester

The British Rail Crap Design School were not satisfied with one bad interchange, but they did the same at Kirkby station, thus cutting the Manchester to Liverpool route via Kirkby in half and necessitating a change of train for anybody going this way.

Just as at Ormskirk, where IPEMUs can extend the Ormskirk branch of the Northern Line to Preston, dual-voltage IPEMUs could be used to create an extension of the Kirkby branch  to Wigan, Bolton and Manchester.

IPEMUs would also enable the construction of a new station at Headbolt Lane between Kirkby and Rainsford, which is an aspiration of Merseytravel.

So IPEMUs would enable Liverpool to have another direct service to Manchester for invasion.

New Services to the North

Which services from Ormskirk and Kirkby get developed, would all be down to the traffic statistics.

But the engineering wouldn’t be much, that a competent small station builder couldn’t handle.

I’ve done the change at Ormskirk a couple of times, where in both cases I waited over thirty minutes.

In this modern age, that is as acceptable as piles!

New Services to the South

At its Southern End, the Northern Line joins the City Line at Hunts Cross station., so IPEMUs could travel to Manchester via Warrington Central, if that was what Merseytravel felt they should do.

I do feel that having another terminus like Warrington Central or even Chester might be worthwhile to increase capacity in the tunnel under Liverpool, where trains have to turn back at Liverpool Central.

But IPEMUs would be very helpful in this area, as apart from the line to Crewe, nothing is electrified.

Expanding the Wirral Line

There are various lines that are not electrified that connect to Merseyrail’s Wirral Line. The operation of IPEMUs has been proposed on one line; the Borderlands Line to improve connectivity between Wrexham and Liverpool. In a Proposed Battery Train section in the Wikipedia entry for the Borderlands Line, this is said.

A trial of an overhead-wire and battery powered converted Electrostar train was undertaken in January and February 2015 on the Mayflower Line. The train can travel up to 60 miles on energy stored in the batteries and also recharges the batteries via the overhead-wires when on electrified track, at stations and via brake regeneration. A month later in March 2015, the introduction of battery powered trains was proposed for the Borderlands Line by Network Rail.

The document suggested that consideration had been given to electrification and to running services further into Birkenhead ceasing termination at Bidston for greater connectivity. However these options were expressed as offering low value for money. They proposed that using battery powered rolling stock precluding full electrification of the line, providing a cheaper method of increasing connectivity into the electrified Birkenhead and Liverpool sections of the Wirral Line.

So if Merseytravel decides not to invade Manchester, they can always invade Wales.


I would feel that Merseytravel have got some planned uses for IPEMUs in mind.

I suspect that some of the uses will be rather surprising, but then the concept of an IPEMU does give transport planners a lot of flexibility and a go-anywhere capability.

This document on the Merseytravel web site is their plan of what they would like to do.

There’s certainly a lot of scope for IPEMUs, tram-trains, clever architects and capable construction companies to give Liverpool a world-class local railway network. For a start, they’re looking at stations in all these places.

Carr Mill
Chester-Crewe Line
Deeside Industrial Park
Edge Lane
Headbolt Lane
Maghull North
St James
Tarbock Interchange (or Halewood South)
Town Meadow
Warrington West

That is a large number of stations for only a small part of the UK.

It’s when I read documents like the Merseytravel report, that I think that local areas, should have more control of their transport infrastructure, as local people and their politicians often know the best way to spend the money.

Also when a new station or line is built in an area and most people are in favour, they think of it as their infrastructure and use it!

October 4, 2015 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , ,


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  2. […] both Preston via Ormskirk and Manchester via Kirkby with new electric trains. I wrote on this in Is Liverpool Planning To Invade Manchester By Train? I said […]

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