The Anonymous Widower

By Rail Between Derby And Manchester via Stoke

In his article entitled Connecting The Powerhouses in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, Colin Boocock, says that the best rail route between Derby and Manchester, is to go via Stoke.

There is one train an hour that takes one hour 44 minutes with a change at Stoke. The two legs appear to take 51 and 42 minutes respectively with an eleven minute wait at Stoke station, which is a well-equipped Virgin station.

Change the destination to Manchester Airport and there is an extra change of train and a journey which is at least half-an-hour longer.

You can actually do Derby to Manchester Airport in a couple of minutes over two hours, if you go via Sheffield.

But it does seem a bit crazy, as Manchester Airport is actually eight miles closer to Derby if you drive.

Stoke is well connected to Manchester with up to four trains per hour to Manchester Piccadilly, some of which take just forty minutes. Manchester Airport takes just over the hour with a change at Crewe or Manchester Piccadilly.

The Crewe to Derby Line links Derby and Stoke via Uttoxeter.

This description of the route comes from this section in Wikipedia.

The route is double track for all of its length except for a three-mile section between Alsager and Crewe, which was singled by British Rail. Whilst the majority of the route is not electrified, the section between Stoke Junction and Crewe is as this is a part of the West Coast Main Line.

This means that it should be possible to run electric trains between Manchester Airport and Stoke. As there would be no chnge at Crewe using best times on Stoke-Crewe and Crewe-Manchester Airport giives a time of about fifty minutes.

The route between Stoke and Derby is not electrified and the operating speed of the line is given as 70 mph.

Surely, as it connects Derby and Nottingham to Stoke and the electrified West Coast Main Line, it should have a faster operating speed. In an ideal world, Derby to Stoke must be a prime candidate for electrification. Some of London Overground’s redundant 100 mph Class 317 trains could probably do Derby to Stoke in perhaps thirty-five minutes.

So with electrification all the way, a time of about one hour twenty -five minutes between Derby and Stoke would be possible in a train, that once graced the Stansted Express. So it’s even got luggage racks.

But Derby to Stoke won’t be electrified for years, so could the current service get passengers to Stoke?

There is a section called Services in the Wikipedia entry for the Crewe-Stoke Line. This is said.

The line sees a basic hourly service in each direction with trains calling at all stations on the route however Peartree which is served by 2 Derby bound trains and 3 Crewe bound trains per weekday.

The majority of services on the route since December 2008 have been provided by Class 153 “Super Sprinter” Diesel Multiple Units however Class 158 “Express Sprinter” and Class 156 “Super Sprinter” units are occasionally used. Overcrowding remains a major issue on the route, particularly in the morning and evening peak and a weekends. Passengers are occasionally left behind.

That is a truly pitiful service, as the main rail route from Derby to Manchester is run by a single-coach Class 153 train at times.

It’s amazing anybody trusts the line enough to use it.

As with the Derwent Valley Line, which I wrote about in Exploring The Derwent Valley Line, the problem is probably down to a shortage of suitable trains.

The line needs a suitable bi-mode train.

  • At least four-cars.
  • Airport interior with  luggage racks.
  • Possibly a First Class compartment.
  • Ability to do the forty miles between Stoke and Nottingham on diesel.

A Flex version of a Class 317 train would do nicely and could probably do Nottingham to Manchester Airport in two hours. This would mean.

  • Four trains could provide an hourly service.
  • Eight trains would provide a two trains per hour service.

Would you believe that London Overground will release the eight Class 317/7 trains with the Airport interior next year, when they are replaced by new Class 710 trains?

Conclusion

The more I do little exercises like this, the more I believe that Porterbrook’s Flex concept is not only high-class engineering, but it is a idea, that has arrived at exactly the right time.

The only problem with converting Class 317 trains, is they are owned by Angel Trains! I’m sure that that is not an insurmountable problem!

June 2, 2017 - Posted by | Travel | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] By Rail Between Derby And Manchester via Stoke, currently rakes an hour and forty-four minutes. […]

    Pingback by Connecting The Powerhouses « The Anonymous Widower | June 3, 2017 | Reply


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