The Anonymous Widower

Expanding Manchester Piccadilly Station

This announcement on the Government web site is entitled Put HS3 at the heart of a High Speed North – Adonis.

This is an extract.

Recommendation six: Proposals for the redevelopment of Manchester Piccadilly station should be prepared jointly by TfN, Transport for Greater Manchester, Manchester City Council, Network Rail, DfT and HS2 Ltd.

These organisations should work to together to deliver:

a) Detailed plans for the new east-west platforms 15/16 to facilitate delivery early in Control Period 6 and unlock the development potential of the Mayfield site;

b) A masterplan for the longer-term development of Manchester Piccadilly station as a whole, incorporating capacity for HS2 services and options for the delivery and timing of platform capacity for HS3; and

c) Proposals for funding and financing the station redevelopment, including for private sector and local contributions.

I know Manchester Piccadilly station well  and it has multiple space problems. These pictures illustrate some of the problems on the North side of the station.

You have lots of short trains and long platforms, which means the following.

  • Passengers have to walk long distances.
  • There is confusion of which train to take with more than one in the platform.
  • It must be a nightmare for train operators and their staff.

Surely some reorganisation could improve this mess, that was probably designed by Topsy.

On the South side of the station, there are two of the most crowded platforms in the UK. Platforms 13/14 need a serious sorting out.

Currently, services from Platform 13 seem to go to the following.

  • Huddersfield
  • Leeds
  • Manchester Airport
  • Norwich
  • Scarborough
  • Sheffield
  • York

And from Platform 14 to the following.

  • Blackpool
  • Edinburgh
  • Liverpool
  • Southport

Most of the services seem to be provided by TransPennine Express and I think it is true to say, that when and if the Ordsall Chord is opened, there will be a sorting out of services on these two platforms.

But I do feel that the solution is Network Rail’s preferred one of adding platforms 15/16. They can’t be built soon enough, to ease the overcrowding.

This Google Map shows the layout of Manchester Piccadilly station.

Manchester Piccadilly Station

Manchester Piccadilly Station

The current Platforms 13/14 are along the bottom of the station, connected to the main station by the two small bridges. I would assume that the two new platforms will go on the south side of 13/14.

Wikipedia gives more details of developments related to the Northern Hub and HS2.

It is going to be a tight fit to get all the lines and platforms into the area.

The more I look at the station, the more I tend to think that the Picc-Vic Tunnel might have been a good solution.

It makes me wonder if it would be more efficient for HS2 and HS3 to share a route through Manchester from the Airport to Victoria and on to Huddersfield and Leeds. It would need to be mainly in tunnel and could go right under the city with underground stations. I wrote about it in Rethinking HS2 And HS3.

Surely, if two high speed lines are to go through Manchester, they should share a route?

I have also received this image from a reader; Ben.

An Alternative Cross-Manchester Tunnel

An Alternative Cross-Manchester Tunnel

Ben’s plan illustrates some advantages of a cross-city tunnel, which probably include.

  • Less demolition at stations served by HS2.
  • HS2 and HS3 could probably share platforms.
  • Release of platforms at Piccadilly.
  • A station in the centre of the city.
  • Better links to the trams and local train services
  • Ability to continue in tunnel towards Huddersfield and Leeds.

Remember that we’ve improved our tunnelling capability by a large amount in recent years.

Crossrail in London has also developed station designs and layouts, that could be used in Manchester.

  • Massive double-ended stations to effectively serve two separate locations.
  • Lines and station layouts to ease and encourage same platform interchange.
  • Moving walkways and inclined lifts, where necessary to ease passenger movement.
  • Island platforms to ease interchange between directions and branches, as at Whitechapel.

So could the most passenger friendly station, just called Manchester, be built under the city?

I don’t think that the current plans for Piccadilly, which are just so much conservative dross will be realised, as someone will come up with something much better. But then recommendation six encourages that!

 

March 15, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

High Speed North Barely Mentions Technology

The National Infrastructure Commission has published its report entitled High Speed North.

Technology and in particular new technology is hardly mentioned in the report.

This is the only mention with respect of improved technology in rail applications.

Ticketing, and in particular the absence of smart ticketing technology.

Design gets a few more mentions, but only one is meaningful.

It is very much a grey report produced by yesterday’s grey men.

The North has serious connectivity problems and it needs them to be solved now!

As I said in Adonis Promises Milk And Honey In The Future, But The North Needs Unblocking Now!, I can’t see much improvement until 2022.

All High Speed North does is confirm my suspicions of yesterday’s grey men conning the country out of fees.

To solve the North’s problems we must break out of the box! And how!

As an example of the report’s lack of ambition, the report says that Manchester Piccadilly station needs to add Platforms 15/16 in Control Period 6 or between 2019 and 2024.

That could be eight years and given the crowding you get on Platforms 13/14, those two extra platforms are needed now.

You need to do a lot better, Lord Adonis. But as a failed New Labour accolyte, we didn’t expect much more.

 

March 15, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | Leave a comment

Adonis Promises Milk And Honey In The Future, But The North Needs Unblocking Now!

I don’t have much time for Lord Adonis, as I always think that unelected politicians who change sides are a bit like the Vicar of Bray.

And lets face it, he was part of Tony Blair’s gang of idiots, who felt that licking Dubya’s arse and making war in Afghanistan and Iraq was more important than creating proper transport links across the north.

But they were only following the lead set by Harold Wilson, when he cancelled the Picc-Vic Tunnel. Wikipedia says this about how the need for the tunnel has been and is being fulfilled.

In 1992, the Metrolink system opened and linked both stations via tram, negating the requirement for a direct rail connection to an extent. In 2011, the Ordsall Chord was announced; it is an overground railway scheme designed to directly link Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria in a comparable fashion to Picc-Vic.

Wouldn’t it have been better to dig the tunnel in the first place?

I heard Lord Haskins and Chris Hyomes from Railfuture on Wake Up To Money this morning and they were aggressive in demanding that something happen sooner rather than later.

After my last trip to Huddersfield and writing Welcome To Huddersfield, I can say, that the Class 185 trains are a sick joke inflicted on the North by Tony Blair as Prime Minister and Gordon Brown as Chancellor. The trains are both too short and to few in number.

And then we have Lord Adonis saying on BBC Breakfast, that the line needs to be electrified as soon as possible.

So how long will the misery of the TransPennine routes continue before the line is electrified? 2022 is mentioned!

In my view there are four solutions for acceptable trains across the Pennines.

  1. Introduce the first bi-mode Class 800 trains on the route.
  2. Introduce the first bi-mode Class 800 trains on the East Coast to release InterCity 125s for the route.
  3. Introduce some locomotive-hauled stock.
  4. Create Class 387 trains with an IPEMU capability, so they could use energy storage to bridge the electrification gaps.

One of these must be implemented before the end of this year.

The first two options are impossible, as the Class 800 trains won’t be ready for passenger service until 2017.

I also think that Option 3 would be unacceptable to passengers, but is probably impossible, as there are no modern diesel locomotives available and probably very few coaches in good condition.

So we’re left with the Class 387 IPEMUs.

  • They are modern four car electric trains, with everything passengers expect. Only wi-fi is missing.
  • The IPEMU technology was successfully demonstrated in early 2015 using a Class 379 train.
  • I rode the demonstrator and was impressed for what that is worth!
  • Bombardier have won awards for the technology.
  • There are well upwards of twenty four-car trains available or being built, that could be modified.
  • There are rumours that IPEMUs could be used on the Great Western.
  • They can work in eight or twelve car trains, where platforms allow.
  • They can travel for over fifty miles on battery power, after charging on electrified track. So Leeds to Manchester is no problem!
  • Liverpool to Newcastle and Edinburgh via Leeds could be served by 110 mph electric trains.

Would a Northern Powerhouse built on battery trains be acceptable to politicians?

In my view, it will have to be, as Derby-built Bombardier Class 387 trains with an IPEMU capability are all we’ve got.

I shall be listening to George Osborne tomorrow!

March 15, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

China, Russia And The EU’s Intermarium Bloc

The title of this post is the title of this article on the euobserver web site.

It is an interesting read, which talks about how trade routes will develop between Europe, Russia and China.

Incidentally, I found it, because it talks about Rail Baltica, which I think is an important project that could bring benefits to the Baltic States.

March 15, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Do I Have The Worst Broadband In Central London?

I doubt it, but I’ve decided to keep a proper log of all the problems.

March 15th, 2016 – 06:00 – I woke up to no broadband and only now at 07:15 can I write this.

March 16th, 2016 – 07:00 – Broadband dropped out for an hour.

March 18th, 2016 – 16:30– Broadband dropped out for an hour.

March 21st, 2016 – 16:30– Broadband dropped out for an hour.

March 22nd, 2016 – 19:30 – Broadband dropped out for a period.

March 23rd, 2016 – 08:00 – Intermittent service

March 23rd, 2016 – 13:30 – Intermittent service

March 23rd, 2016 – 16:00 – Intermittent service

March 23rd, 2016 – 17:00 – Intermittent service

March 24th, 2016 – 06:00 – Intermittent service

March 24th, 2016 – 11:00 – Broadband dropped out for an hour.

April 1st, 2016 – 17:30 – Broadband dropped out for an hour.

April 7th, 2016 – 19:30 – Intermittent service

What I would like is fibre-optic, but BT have said, that I’m too close to the exchange.

March 15, 2016 Posted by | Computing | , | 4 Comments