The Anonymous Widower

Could Platform 13 And 14 At Manchester Piccadilly Station Be Improved?

I took this picture on the island platform 13 /14, at Manchester Piccadilly station on my trip to the North last week.

I actually took the picture, as I wanted to check if the lines were electrified, which can be seen.

Services Through Manchester Victoria, Manchester Piccadilly and Salford Crescent Stations

After the current works on the Ordsall Chord has been completed, Manchester Victoria, Manchester Piccadilly and Salford Crescent stations will form a triangle of lines and stations, through which services passing through Manchester will travel. This map from Wikipedia shows the lines in a simplified form.

Note the lines to Leeds, Bolton, Liverpool, Warrington, Stockport. It is a real Crossrails of the North.

The only similar intensive set of railway junctions in a city with multiple terminal stations is be the tangle of lines across the South Bank of the Thames in London encompassing London Bridge, Cannon Street, Blackfriars, Waterloo East and Charing Cross stations. This map from Wikipedia shows the lines in a simplified form.

Simple it is not!

As an aside it should be noted that Thameslink is planned to run twenty-four trains per hour (tph), through the central core tunnel, of which sixteen tph stop at both Blackfriars and London Bridge stations. Add in the 14 tph terminating at Charing Cross and the 16 tph terminating at Cannon Street, all of which stop at London Bridge and you get a measure of the capability of modern signalling.

Northern Electric Services To Manchester Airport

As I write this, Northern Electrics trains from Liverpool Lime Street, Edinburgh via Wigan North Western and Blackpool North via Bolton are all scheduled to call in Platforms 13 at Manchester Piccadilly station within the next hour on their way to Manchester Airport. Only the Liverpool service is run by an electric train, which is one of the 100 mph Class 319 trains.

But after the Manchester to Preston Line via Bolton and the Blackpool Branch Lines are electrified and the Ordsall Chord is opened, which will hopefully happen late in 2017, there could be more Northern |Electrics services through these platforms going to Manchester Airport from these and other stations.

Stations marked with Flex will be run by Class 319 Flex trains, but as they will be running on the overhead wires through these platforms to and from the Airport, they can be considered to be the same as the electric Class 319 trains.

If you look at the current service between Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Airport stations, the frequency is something like eight trains per hour.

So there will be a large number of electric trains going through Platforms 13/14 at Piccadilly! And the trains will be getting longer, with the minimum train size being four-cars and surely eight-cars are possible on some routes.

All of these services will bring passengers to and from Platforms 13 /14 at Piccadilly.

Manchester’s New Urban Link

Across the South Bank of London most people take the Jubilee Line!

But I don’t!

Between say London Bridge and Charing Cross, I will use Southeastern’s 14 tph service between the two stations, as it’s quicker, the views are better and there’s less walking in tunnels underground.

And according to some of their Customer Service people, I’m not the only one.

Manchester will also be getting a new similar high capacity urban link from Manchester Piccadilly station across the city, that will serve.

Before splitting into two branches.

As there is also a line that joins Salford Crescent to Manchester Victoria via Salford Crescent, train planners will have a lot of scope for improving services.

  • Liverpool and Manchester services have a choice of Manchester terminals and a variety of routes.
  • A service linking Edinburgh, Newcastle, York, Leeds, Huddersfield, Manchester Victoria, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport would be possible. Current services go via the West Coast Main Line.
  • Inwards to Manchester, an improved Salford Crescent station could be a cross-platform interchange with Salford Central/Victoria services on one platform face and Deansgate/Oxford Road/Piccadilly/Airport services on the other.
  • Similarly, outwards from Manchester, Salford Crescent station could be a cross platform interchange between services.

I think that this could lead to the Metrolink being connected to one or both of the two Salford stations.

To sum everything up, there will be lots of trains going through the three stations of Manchester Victoria, Manchester Piccadilly and Salford Crescent.

And all those trains using the Windsor Link and the Ordsall Chord will be coming through Platform 13 or Platform 14 at Manchester Piccadlly station.

Overcrowding At Platform 13 and 14 At Manchester Piccadilly Station

Overcrowding at these two platforms is bad enough already and it’s going to get worse if more and longer trains are running through the platforms.

Looking at the picture, the platforms are not overly-wide either.

But at least there are solutions, as I’ll discuss now.

The Alternative Route

Londoners are world-champions at ducking-and diving and will find the route that is quickest after a few weeks of a new rail line or bus route opening. It’s probably one of the reasons that Transport for London, placed the forecast for the passenger usage on the London Overground on the low side.

I don’t know how Mancunians will react to the Ordsall Chord and the new Northern Electrics services, but if they quickly suss-out the best route for their personal journey, this may mean that passengers avoid using Platforms 13/14 at Piccadilly.

There are a quite a few interchange stations on the Piccadilly-Salford Crescent and Piccadilly-Victoria routes through the City.

Better Access To The Island Platform 13/14

Access to the island platform is not good and perhaps more escalators and lifts will help.

Whatever is done to improve the through route, improvement of the access will be on the list of projects to perform.

A Bigger Island Platform 13/14

Looking at the picture in this post, I wonder if the island platform could be made bigger.

If it was wider, this would need the tracks to be moved apart and if this is possible another metre on the platform width would help.

I was on Platform A at St. Pancras Thameslink station this morning and it is very long platform, with the trains stopping vaguely in the middle, thus leaving spare platform space at each end.

So if the platform could be lengthened would this help with the overcrowding?

This Google Map shows the Western end of Platform 13/14.

Platform 13/14 is the pointy one in the middle.

And this one the Eastern end.

Again Platform 13/14 is the one in the middle.

It’s all very tight and I estimate Platform 13/14 isn’t much more then ten metres wide at any point.

Access to Platforms 13/14 From Below

I don’t know whether this is possible, but the platforms sit on a large viaduct and in many stations like this escalators and lifts are used to access the platforms from below.

This picture shows the Platforms on the viaduct.

Platform 14 is closest to the camera.

I think that with imagination, access might be possible from this side.

A New Bridge To Platforms 13/14

This Google Map shows the London end of the platforms at Piccadilly.

Platform 13/14 is at the bottom of the picture.

I think there is space to put a second bridge over the platforms here and it could reach all the way to the new HS2 platforms on the other side of the station.

Platforms 15 And 16 At Manchester Piccadilly Station

Building two new platforms 15 and 16 has been touted as a solution.

I think that the key to whether four through platforms is needed, is how many trains will be going through.

In a few years time the two track cross-London lines; Crossrail aqnd Thameslink will be handling 24 tph, with a third; the East London Line handling 20 tph.

Also at London Bridge, 54 tph in both directions are handled by nine platforms, which means that an average of 12 tph go through each platform.

If you look at the Y-shaped line through Manchester, Thameslink could be overlaid on the top.

  • Blackfriars would be Platforms 13/14 at Piccadilly.
  • St. Pancras Thameslink would be Deansgate.
  • West Hampstead Thameslink would be Salford Crescent.
  • Finsbury Park would be Victoria.

Other conditions would be needed for a throughput approaching that of Thameslink.

  • All trains must be modern electric trains, capable of making quick stops.
  • All trains must be fitted with modern signalling.
  • No trains terminating at Manchester Oxford Road
  • Some services from the North linked back-to-back with services to the South to free up platform space at Victoria and Piccadilly.

Thameslink is aiming for 24 tph and currently runs 14 tph.

I can’t see, if everything is done correctly, that Platform 13/14 at Piccadilly can’t handle somewhere between 14-24 tph.

And as Thameslink manages 14 tph with a proportion of Class 319 trains, I would be very surprised if this figure is not attainable.

Under Proposal in the Wikipedia entry for the Ordsall Chord, this is said.

The Ordsall Chord will provide a direct link between Piccadilly and Victoria stations, allowing trains from Manchester Victoria and the east to continue to Piccadilly. On completion the chord will allow four trains per hour to travel between Manchester Airport/Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria in each direction, eight trains per hour from Manchester Victoria towards the west via Chat Moss, and six trains per hour from Manchester Piccadilly towards either Chat Moss or Bolton and Preston. Other trains will travel from Manchester Piccadilly via Warrington.

This appears to say that only the following trains would use Platform 13/14 at Piccadilly.

  • 4 tph Manchester Airport/Piccadilly to Victoria
  • 6 tph Piccadilly to Chat Moss or Bolton/Preston

So that is just 10 tph.

Currently, in the Peak, it appears that the frequency of trains between Oxford Road and Piccadilly is 10 tph.

I have a feeling that with a bit of reorganisation of services, the rather difficut problem of building Platforms 15/16 can be delayed for ten years or more, if not for ever.

Manchester Airport From The South

How would people from Birmingham, London and the South get to Manchester Airport?

There are two routes.

  1. Change at Manchester Picaadilly to any of the several tph to Manchester Airport
  2. Change at Crewe to the Crewe-Manchester Line.

I would use the second option as it’s fifteen minutes quicker and avoids Platform 13/14 at Piccadilly.

I suspect that the train companies will reorganise their services from Crewe to Manchester via the Airport to take advantage of the Ordsall curve and the new electrification North of Manchester.

HS2 Arrives At Crewe

HS2 will have various effects, when it arrives at Crewe in 2027!

One interesting idea, borrowed from the French, would be to split and join, shorter HS2 trains at Crewe. So perhaps two or even three shorter units would work as a larger unit between London and Crewe.

The advantage of this is that anywhere that is electrified and has a platform long enough could get a high-speed service to London and the South, if the market was there.

According to this page in the Guardian, Crewe will be just 58 minutes from London, instead of the fastest time of 97 minutes today.

Currently Crewe to Manchester Airport takes thirty minutes in a Class 323 train. If as I suspect HS2 trains can run efficiently on classic lines, the following times might be possible using the 110 mph Crewe-Manchester Line to complete the journey.

  • Manchester Piccadilly – 88 minutes instead of the current 127 minutes.
  • Manchester Airport – possibly 78 minutes instead of 144 minutes.
  • Stockport – 76 minutes instead of 115 minutes

No services would need any changes.

But a train might leave London, do a quick stop at Crewe, where it divided with one portion going to Manchester Airport and the other to Stockport and Manchester Piccadilly.

The operator would be able to run short HS2 trains on the classic lines to the North and East of Manchester using the lines now being electrified.

Currently, Huddersfield to Manchester Piccadilly takes 33 minutes, so a modern electric train must be able to do the journey in 20 minutes.

On my estimate of 88 minutes to Piccadilly using HS2, on the electrified existing tracks Huddersfield could be reached without a change in 108 minutes.

The current fastest time is 175 minutes with a change at York.

Running HS2 trains through platforms 13/14 at Piccadilly would have no effect on the design of the platforms, as the HS2 trains will be designed to run to any electrified platform, that is long enough.

The interesting destination of a portion of a train would be Blackburn, if the electrification was extended to the town.

I estimate it could be done in 133 minutes without a change as opposed to 162 minutes today with a change at Preston.

Until 1964, the Ribble Valley Line used to host a Manchester-Glasgow express and now I believe it could have a HS2 service to and from London.

Conclusion

Manchester and its environs will get a much better rail system.

But I suspect it will be some years before Piccadilly gets Platforms 15/16

 

 

 

 

March 16, 2017 - Posted by | Travel | , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. Trains from Manchester Airport to Edinburgh (and Glasgow) are TPE and have been electric for some time (I have travelled on one)
    Track after Deansgate already splits two ways the southerly line to Liverpool and the original one. to this was added the Windsor link about thirty years ago and the Ordsall Chord will add a fourth path later this year.

    Comment by Mark Clayton | March 16, 2017 | Reply

  2. I haven’t finished yet, but it looks like they’re only planning to put 10 tph through Platform 13/14 at the end of December. I would reckon because of what is done in London now on Thameslink and the East London Line, that 14-16 tph is certainly possible.

    The Class 319 Flex will change everything by bringing electric trains to Buxton and Blackburn/Clitheroe.

    I also feel that if they back-to-back Buxton the Blackburn/Clitheroe service, this will give Hazel Grove to Salford Crescent four electric trains per hour. It also saves a couple of paths through Piccadilly and creates extra terminal space.

    I was on a BedPan Special today and it was a 319/4, which meant it had First Class seats and a disabled toilet. It was riding like a good ‘un and much better than the 319/3, I road in Liverpool at the weekend.

    Comment by AnonW | March 16, 2017 | Reply

  3. Platforms 13 and 14 are often the ones to Stockport – all London trains bound for Euston stop at Stockport, even the fast trains. Handy as we are less than a mile away. But although I haven’t been there for some time, the stations need improving. When we first moved here, there was no direct train to Liverpool, we had to go into Piccadilly, cross to Victoria and get a train to Liverpool. And before the trams that was a complete pain! I tended to drive. I keep saying I will give trains another try, now they have improved suspensions, but I haven’t done yet.

    Comment by nosnikrapzil | March 19, 2017 | Reply


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