The Anonymous Widower

Still Going For A Quart In A Pint Pot

The title of this post is the same as that of an artticle in the November 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

The article describes the problems of running trains through the Castlefield Corridor through Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road and Deansgate stations.

It is a comprehensive article, that gets to the heart of the problem of the route.

It comes to the conclusion, that there is a need for either more infrastructure or less trains, than the current fifteen trains per hour (tph).

Under more infrastructure, the author lists these projects.

  1. Grade separated junctions at Castlefield and other junctions.
  2. A centre turnback at Manchester Oxford Road station.
  3. A West-facing bay platform at Manchester Victoria
  4. Four through platforms at Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly.
  5. Improvement at Manchester Airport station.

These points should be noted.

  • Options One and Four will be expensive and will probably cause massive disruption during construction for both rail and road traffic.
  • The author suspects Option Four would cost almost a billion pounds and would need the grade-separated junctions to get best value.

I shall deal with options Two, Three and Five later.

Trains Through The Castlefield Corridor

Current passenger trains through the Castlefield Corridor are as follows.

  • East Midlands Railway – One tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Norwich
  • Northern – One tph – Hazel Grove and Blackpool
  • Northern – One tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Crewe
  • Northern – Two tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road
  • Northern – One tph – Manchester Airport and Blackpool
  • Northern – One tph – Manchester Airport and Cumbria
  • Northern – One tph – Manchester Airport and Liverpool Lime Street
  • Northern – One tph – Wigan North Western and Alderly Edge
  • Trains for Wales – One tph – Manchester Airport and Llandudno
  • TransPennine Express – One tph – Manchester Airport and Middlesbrough
  • TransPennine Express – One tph – Manchester Airport and Newcastle
  • TransPennine Express – One tph – Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central or Edinburgh

This gives the following totals.

  • Eleven tph – Deansgate and Manchester Piccadilly
  • Two tph – Deansgate and Manchester Oxford Road

Add in a couple of freight trains and that gives 15 tph, which according to the author is the design limit.

These are frequencies from Manchester Airport.

  • There are seven tph between Manchester Airport and Oxford Road via Piccadilly.
  • There are three tph between Manchester Airport and Preston via Piccadilly and Oxford Road.
  • There are two tph between Manchester Airport and Leeds via Piccadilly, Oxford Road and Victoria.

The author of the article also points out that Bradford is pushing for a direct service to Manchester Airport.

Frequency is important, but so is train length.

  • Transpennine Express services will generally be five cars in the future.
  • East Midlands Railway, Northern and Trains for Wales services will be between two and four cars.

Nothing too taxing to handle here, although Northern might decide to double trains of eight cars at times.

Comparison Of The Castlefield Corridor And The East London Line

Consider these facts about the Castlefield Corridor

  • Four Southern routings; Crewe, Hazel Grove, Stockport and Manchester Airport.
  • Five Northern routings; Bolton, Liverpool, Manchester Victoria, Trafford Park and Wigan North Western
  • Fifteen tph of which thirteen tph are passenger trains.
  • Three stations designed by Topsy, two of which are step-free.
  • Not step-free between train and platform.
  • Three interchange stations.
  • Conventional signalling.
  • Fully electrified with 25 KVAC overhead.
  • Four train companies, with at least four types of passenger train.
  • Bad timekeeping.
  • Low customer satisfaction.

For comparison, consider these facts about the East London Line between Shoreditch High Street and Surrey Quays stations.

  • Four Southern routings; Clapham Junction, Crystal Palace, New Cross and West Croydon.
  • Two Northern routings; Dalston Junction and Highbury & Islington
  • Sixteen tph of which all are passenger trains. Soon to be raised to twenty tph.
  • Seven stations designed by various architects, two of which are step-free, with Whitechapel to soon make this three step-free.
  • Some stations are step-free between train and platform.
  • Two interchange stations.
  • More bespoke signalling.
  • Fully electrified with 750 VDC third rail.
  • One train company and one type of passenger train.
  • Good timekeeping.
  • High customer satisfaction.

The route complexity and frequencies are fairly similar, so what are the big differences?

  • Is the East London Line’s signalling better?
  • The East london Line doesn’t have freight trains.
  • Does one type of train with wide doors and walk-through interiors, work wonders?
  • Does London’s step-free between train and platform make a difference?

I think the following actions should be looked at for the Castlefield Corridor.

  • Modern digital signalling.
  • All Northern services to be run using Class 195 or Class 331 trains, which look the same to passengers, despite one being electric and the other diesel.
  • TransPennine Express will be running three different type of train all with single doors, through the Castlefield Corridor. Ways of reducing the number of types must be found.

What idiot decided to buy three incompatible fleets? Surely, an order for a larger number of Hitachi trains would have been better?

My Behaviour In Manchester

I know Manchester’s trams and trains, but I haven’t a clue about the City’s buses, which seem to be reserved for the locals.

I regularly find myself using stations in the Castlefield Corridor and I have developed certain rules.

  • Never use Oxford Road, unless you’re lost and end up there by chance. It must be the worst designed modern station in Europe.
  • Never use the route unless you’ve already bought the ticket some time before.
  • Use Deansgate if possible, as it has a good connection to Manchester Metrolink.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to catch a train from platforms 13 and 14 at Piccadilly.
  • Make sure you know what platform your train is using at Piccadilly.

I also tend to avoid catching any train from platform 13 or 14 at Piccadilly.

Passenger Problems On Platforms 13 and 14 At Manchester Piccadilly

One of the reasons, I avoid these platforms, is that they are always crowded and at weekends, there seems to be a lot of occasional travellers, often with heavy cases and babies in buggies.

I remember having a chat with a station guy there in a quiet time and it turned out that he’d also worked on platforms on the London Underground.

One point he made was that Londoners get back from the platform edge, when told, but Mancunians are slower to act.

He said trains were often delayed because of passengers struggling to get on.

Could Other Actions Be Taken To Ease The Overcrowding?

These are various ideas suggested in the article or some of my own.

Run Less Trains Through The Castlefield Corridor

This would ease the problem, but it would make it more difficult for passengers to travel where they wanted and needed.

Build A Centre Turnback At Manchester Oxford Road

Consider

  • It would mean that trains turning back at Oxford Road, wouldn’t have to cross tracks, entering or leaving the turnback.
  • It could probably turn up to four tph.
  • It might also help in service recovery.

The author obviously likes this idea and I suspect it is possible, because he mentions it more than once.

Completely Rebuild Manchester Oxford Road Station

Manchester Oxford Road is certainly not fit for purpose.

This is an extract from the Wikipedia entry.

The station, a Grade II listed structure, requires frequent maintenance. In 2004, the station roof was partially refurbished to prevent leaking. In 2011, the platform shelters, seats and toilets were refurbished at a cost of £500,000.[36] In 2013, the station received a £1.8 million renovation to improve access, including lifts and an emergency exit.

In my view, the station needs the following.

  • Step-free access.
  • Longer platforms.
  • Higher capacity platforms.
  • Much better signage and maps.
  • The turnback described earlier.

No wonder I avoid it like the plague.

A completely rebuilt station with excellent step-free access might encourage more passengers to use the station, rather than the overcrowded Piccadilly.

Improve Deansgate Station

Deansgate station is not bad, but it could be improved to encourage more passengers.

Over the next few years, as the Metroilink expands, It could become a better interchange.

Step-Free Access Between Train And Platform Must Be Achieved

This picture shows access to a new Class 195 train at Manchester Airport.

With new trains, there is no excuse for not having level access, where someone in a wheelchair can just wheel themselves across.

Level access should reduce loading delays, as it eases loading of buggies, wheelchairs and wheeled cases.

If Merseyrail, Greater Anglia and some parts of the London Overground can arrange it, then surely Manchester can?

Nova Problem

The author also talks about possible problems with TransPennine’s new Nova trains, which have single end doors, which could prove inadequate in busy times.

Build A West-Facing Bay Platform At Manchester Victoria Station

The author suggests this could be used to run a frequent shuttle service between Manchester Victoria and Manchester Airport via Deansgate, Oxford Road and Piccadilly.

It might mean that TransPennine services stopped short in Manchester and passengers would change for the Airport.

But it would solve the problems of the capacity in the Castlefield Corridor and platform availability at Manchester Airport

Could Passengers Be Nudged Towards The Metrolink?

I have watched the sheer number of passengers delay trains at Manchester Piccadilly, several times.

Would it ease delays if passengers used the Metrolink to Manchester Airport?

Perhaps, the journey by Metrolink could be made more affordable?

Conclusion

It’s a mess and as the author says in his title, quarts don’t fit into pint pots.

At least though, if High Speed Two is built to link up with Northern Powerhouse Rail and together they run London, Birmingham or Liverpool to Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester City Centre, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds, this would solve the problem of the Castlefield Corridor by bypassing it for long-distance trains.

 

 

 

October 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Support Railway Children Charity Through London Overground Ticket Machines

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

This is the first paragraph.

Transport for London has announced that passengers using ticket machines at London Overground stations can now make an optional donation to the Railway Children charity.

I think it is a good idea. It will be interesting to see how much it raises.

On another related point, I rarely use cash any more and use contactless cards when I can.

Will add-on contactless giving make up for the shortage of cash donations?

October 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

TfL Moots Bakerloo Line To Hayes

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the November 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

There are various points in the article.

A More Direct Tunnel Between Lambeth North and Elephant & Castle Stations.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the current routes between these two stations.

It appears that Transport for London (TfL) are proposing the following.

  • A more direct route, between the two stations.
  • A rebuilt  Elephant & Castle station, handling both Underground lines.
  • Step-free access between Bakerloo and Northern Lines.
  • The station would be integrated with the new shopping centre.

Part of the plan appears to be to keep the current Bakerloo Line station open during construction.

Could the plan mean that the London Road depot will be closed?

This Google Map shows the London Road Depot and Lambeth North and Elephant & Castle stations.

Note.

  1. Lsmbeth North station is in the North West corner.
  2. Elephant & Castle station is in the South East corner.
  3. The London Road Depot is North of a point about half-way between the stations.

This second Google Map shows a close-up of the London Road Depot.

It appears to be quite a large site about a hundred metres along a long side.

Consider.

  • It must be a development valuable site.
  • It could be used as the site from which to dig the tunnels.
  • The current Bakerloo Line skirts the site to the North.

So could the London Road Depot be closed and developed as the first part of the scheme, leaving a nice and handy tunnel in the basement?

  • There already is a connection from the depot to Lambeth Noth station.
  • It might even be possible to excavate much of the new tunnel by digging down, rather than by using a tunnel boring machine.
  • Note that recently, the new Southbound tunnel of the Northern Line at Bank station has been dug using traditional methods.
  • Moor House at Moorgate contains a ventilation and access shaft for Crossrail and was built some years rest of Crossrail.

Could this mean that the London Road Depot gets developed early in the project and London gets a lot of much-needed housing in a prime location?

But where do they stable the trains?

A Changed Tunnel Alignment Between Elephant & Castle and Lewisham Stations

The article also says this.

It (TfL) has also updated plans for the alignment of tunnels between Elephant & Castle and Lewisham, with the new direct tunnel alignment removing the need for one of the proposed tunnel shafts. A shaft would be builtbetween New Cross Gate and Lewisham, while plans for a shaft beyond Lewisham at the Wearside Road council depot site have been developed into proposals for train stabling.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr show the railway lines around Lewisham station.

 

Note.

  1. Current plans are for the Bakerloo Line to terminate under the current Lewisham station.
  2. There will be overrun tunnels under the Hayes Line, which runs through Ladywell station.
  3. These tunnels could at a future date be joined to the Hayes Line.

The Wearside Road depot is tucked into the South side of the junction, as this Google Map shows.

 

It looks to me, that TfL could be selling the site at London Road for development and using the Wearside Road depot, to replace the lost stabling.

It surely has advantages.

  • It is further South.
  • It could be easily connected to the overrun tunnel;s under the Hayes Line.
  • It could be connected to the Hayes Line.

Could it be possible to build the new rail depot and put the council’s trucks on a second floor?

The picture shows Westbourne Park bus garage over stabling for Crossrail trains.

Hayes Line Takeover

TfL are now saying that extension to Hayes and Beckenham Junction stations offers the greatest benefit

Consider the following.

Development Of The Wearside Road Depot

Suppose the Wearside Road Depot were to be developed early.

  • It could be developed as a double-deck depot, with trains underneath and the Council depot on top.
  • Lewsisham is developing lots of tower blocks, so these would be an alternative topping.
  • The rail depot could be built initially as a shell connected to the Hayes Line, with space for connections to the overrun tunnels at Lewisham station.
  • It could be used as a transfer point for tunnelling spoil, if some digging towards Lewisham, were to be done from the site. Trains could access the site from Beckenham Junction.

It appears to me, that closing the London Road Depot is important in terms of financing, minimising disruption to passengers and construction, but the only way it can be done, is by providing an alternative depot. And the best way to do that is to connect the line in the first phase to the Hayes Line and use Wearside Road as a replacement depot.

Service Frequency

The current service frequency on the line is according to Wikipedia as follows.

The standard off-peak service is two trains per hour (tph) each way between London Charing Cross and Hayes, non-stop between London Bridge and Ladywell, and two tph between London Cannon Street and Hayes, calling at all stations via Lewisham.

So that is four trains per hour (tph), but only two tph call at Lewisham.

Currently, the Bakerloo Line frequency at Elephant & Castle station is 20-21 tph. As it appears there is no terminal platforms on the extension except for Hayes and Beckenham Junction stations, I would assume that their three platforms will be able to handle the full service.

The single platform at Beckenham Junction can probably handle six tph, which would leave the rest to be handled in the two platforms at Hayes station.

As the Victoria Line handles thirty-six tph with modern signally, I see no reason, why the Bakerloo Line wouldn’t be able to handle 30 tph with ultra-modern signalling.

Development Of An Interchange At Catford

In An Opportunity At Catford, I talked about the possibilities of developing an improved interchange between Catford and Catford Bridge stations, which are no more than a hundred metres apart. |Although, it is rather up and down.

The map from carto.metre.free.fr shows the layout of lines at the two stations.

Note that Catford Bridge station is on the Hayes Line and Catford station is on the Catford Loop Line.

It strikes me that there is scope for some advanced thinking, if an interchange is to be created between the two stations.

Could it be arranged that as part of the conversion of the Hayes Line to the Bakerloo Line, that the tracks be reorganised with the Bakerloo Lines on the outside of a single four-platform station, that would enable cross-platform interchange between the two lines?

Unfortunately, No! But it could have been safeguarded some years ago, but now there’s new housing in the way!

However, I do think there are other ways of making this interchange step-free and reasonably quick.

The Hayes And City Problem

Wikipedia says this about the takeover of the Hayes Line by the Bakerloo Line.

The driving force for this change is that Network Rail would like the train paths freed up for services mainly from the South Eastern Main Line. Transport for London prefer this route due to its being largely self-contained after Lewisham.

Currently, Off Peak services from Hayes station are as follows.

  • Two trains per hour (tph) to Cannon Street
  • Two tph to Charring Cross

These two services mean that there are also.

  • Two tph to Lewisham
  • Four tph to London Bridge
  • Two tph to Waterloo East.;

There are also extra services in the Peak.

Will there be a problem for commuters to get between the Hayes Line and the City of London and Canary Wharf?

There will also be no First Class on the trains.

In practice Canary Wharf could be the easier, as it will just mean using the Docklands Light Railway from Lewisham.

This could also be quickest way to the City!

I think we we shall be hearing from some restless natives!

 

 

 

 

 

The Use Of

October 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

Blood Pressure Pills ‘Work Better At Bedtime’

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the first paragraph.

To get the best out of your daily blood pressure medication, take it just before you go to bed, say researchers.

The study was at the University of Vigo in Spain and could be very significant.

As I am on pills for high blood pressure, after discussing it with a friend, who is a senior cardiologist, I decided to give it a go.

I started on Wednesday night, so it is only a few days and it would be wrong to draw any serious conclusions.

But I can already draw one simple one. It is much easier to take the drugs at night, just because you’ve always got a drink handy. Even, if it’s just cold tea in the bottom of a mug or the last dregs of beer in the bottom of a glass.

In the morning, I now get out of bed, brush my teeth, scratch my beard, do a few simple warm up exercises, take my blood pressure and put the kettle on.

Life is simpler!

I also seem to be sleeping better!

It’s too early to come to any conclusions, but everybody on pills for high blood pressure, should read the BBC article and talk to their doctor.

 

October 27, 2019 Posted by | Health | | Leave a comment