The Anonymous Widower

London Businesses Endorse Calls For ‘Crossrail for the North’

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

This is said.

A statement from the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) admitted that travelling in the north was a “tortuous, time-consuming experience” and that improved travel in the region needed to be seen as a top future priority by the government.

But perhaps this is this most telling statement, from the LCCI’s Policy Director.

It is interesting to note that the distance between Leeds and Liverpool is roughly the same as the whole length of London Underground’s Central Line – yet that northern journey can sometimes nearly take double the time,

The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry have a very valid point.

Some typical journeys between Liverpool and Leeds.

  • Liverpool to Newcastle train – One hour twenty-eight minutes
  • Liverpool to Scarborough train – One hour forty-six minutes

And across London from Ealing Broadway to Stratford

  • Central Line – 53 minutes – Actual
  • Crossrail – 27 minutes – Predicted

I would read the following into these figures.

  1. Why does a Scarborough service take twenty minutes longer than a Newcastle one?
  2. Creating a new route can create substantial saving of time.

This suggests to me a two phase approach to creating a better service across the North.

In the first phase new trains, track and signalling improvements and more efficient operation, are used to cut the time as much as possible.

In The Pressure For More Rail Electrification, I speculated that the following times could be possible.

  • Liverpool to Manchester Victoria – 30 minutes
  • Manchester Victoria to Huddersfield – 28 minutes
  • Huddersfield to Leeds – 22 minutes

When the following are done.

  1. Liverpool to Manchester Victoria could be speeded up by a couple of minutes, after the addition of the fourth track at Huyton.
  2. According to the time table, most dwell times are reasonable, but nine minutes is allowed at Manchester Victoria.
  3. Manchester Victoria to Stalybridge electrification is completed.
  4. All trains that can’t cruise at 100 mph are removed from the route.

One,  three and four are already underway and if the track were to be improved across Chat Moss, which currently has a 75 mph speed limit, I reckon that a reliable time of 60-70 minutes would be possible with a Class 800 train.

This would use electrification between Liverpool and Stalybridge and diesel from there to Leeds.

But even with selective electrification between Stalybridge and Leeds, the sort of times the North needs will not be attained.

Some form of new route will be needed in phase two of speeding up trains between Liverpool and Leeds.

September 17, 2017 - Posted by | Transport | , ,


  1. LCCI needs to look at a map – Ealing to Stratford is 16 miles, Liverpool to Newcastle more than tens times as far by rail or car.

    The track from York to Scarborough is slow and twisty, from York to Newcastle it is the East Coast Main Line!

    Little need for a new route, but plenty of scope for improving the current one, including un-cancelling the trans Pennine electrification, fully redoubling the track on the west side etc.

    Trains often dwell too long in stations, especially when they reverse, working practices issue? Why does it take 14 minutes to turn round a train at London Bridge? I suspect the nine minutes at Manchester Victoria is recovery time, so that if the train is late arriving this does not knock on into the next part of the journey with resultant liability for compensation…

    The original engineer did a famous job getting across Chat Moss, but the track still essentially floats on a quagmire, with the ground undulating as trains pass. I suppose if they [bottom] piled deep enough…

    Comment by Mark Clayton | September 17, 2017 | Reply

  2. One driver said that the Class 319 trains with their soft and comfy suspension go up and down like a roller coaster on CXhat Moss.

    It probably needs slab track across Chat Moss. Some of the new slab track is very innovative and could provide a sixty-year solution.

    Decent project management probably says you get a s many electreified routes between Liverpool and Manchester as you cam, then close Chat Moss and rebuild it.

    Comment by AnonW | September 17, 2017 | Reply

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