The Anonymous Widower

Connecting The North West Of England’s Three Powerhouses

It could reasonably be argued that the three most important economic centres of the North West of England are.

  • The City of Liverpool and Merseyside
  • Manchester Airport
  • The City of Manchester and Greater Manchester

I’ll take a quick look at each, with particular reference to public transport links.

The City of Liverpool and Merseyside

Liverpool is introduced by this paragraph in Wikipedia.

Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough in Merseyside, England. As of 2018, the population is approximately 494,814. Liverpool is the ninth-largest English district by population, and the largest in Merseyside and the Liverpool City Region. It lies within the United Kingdom’s sixth-most populous urban area. Liverpool’s metropolitan area is the fifth-largest in the United Kingdom, with a population of 2.24 million.

Knowing Liverpool with affection as I do, I find the City difficult to describe in an unbiased manner, but in my experience few people go for a visit to Liverpool and don’t come back enchanted in some way. It is a many-faceted city!

One of Liverpool’s strengths is the local rail system; Merseyrail, which connects the suburbs to the centre, just like the Underground does in London. As with London, Merseyrail is backed up by a comprehensive bus network. And like London, Liverpool is introducing hydrogen-powered double-deck buses.

Merseyrail is also in a strong expansionist phase.

  • New trains are being delivered to replace some of the oldest trains on the national network in the UK.
  • New stations are being added to the core Merseyrail network.
  • Stations are being improved with refurbishment and step-free access.
  • Merseyrail have ambitions to expand their network to Liverpool Airport, Preston, Skelmersdale, Warrington and Wrexham.

The City of Liverpool and Merseyside in general are getting ready to expand their economy.

Manchester Airport

This Google Map shows Manchester Airport.

Note.

  1. The two runways.
  2. The railway station in the middle of the Airport.
  3. The M56 motorway passing across the North-West of the Airport.

Manchester Airport is the third-busiest airport in the UK in terms of passenger numbers.

  • It is a two-runway airport like Heathrow, which helps a lot in operational efficiency.
  • In 2018, it handled 61% of the number of passengers as Gatwick, but 71% of the aircraft movements.
  • The airport has three terminals.
  • The airport has rail connections to Crewe, Manchester, Northern England, the Central Belt of Scotland and Wales.
  • The airport is connected to the trams of the Manchester Metrolink.

I’ve never flown from the airport as a passenger, so I can’t comment.

Wikipedia has a section on the Future of Manchester Airport, which says.

  • Terminal 2 will be expanded with fifteen more covered stands,
  • The airport will expand to handle more freight.

Airport City Manchester is an £800million expansion to create an airport city on the lines of those at Barcelona and Frankfurt, alongside the airport.

Manchester Airport is certainly building for a future expansion.

Reading about rail links to the airport, you get the impression that some places like Bradford, Derby and Nottingham would like direct links to Manchester Airport.

The City of Manchester and Greater Manchester

Manchester is introduced like this in Wikipedia.

Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 547,627 as of 2018 (making it the fifth most populous English district). It lies within the United Kingdom’s second-most populous urban area, with a population of 2.5 million and second most populous metropolitan area, with a population of 3.3 million. It is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation.

I don’t know Manchester as well as I know Liverpool and most of my visits to the City are usually with limited objectives and a possible overnight stay.

Like Liverpool, Manchester has an extensive public transport network based on the trams of the Metrolink and some local railway lines, backed up by lots of buses.

Transport for Greater Manchester is developing the transport network, with a new Metrolink line to the Trafford Centre opening soon.

Note that if Manchester’s rail system has a problem, it is congestion in the Castlefield Corridor through Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road and Deangate stations and on to Manchester Victoria and Salford Crescent stations. A permanent long-term solution is needed.

The City of Manchester and Greater Manchester are getting putting in the necessary transport links to expand their economy.

Connecting The Three Powerhouses

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, I wrote the following, which I am now repeating in an updated form.

This clip of a map from this Transport for the North report , which is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail, shows a schematic of the current and possible rail links in the triangle between Crewe, Liverpool and Manchester.

High Speed Two, which is shown in dark green, would appear to come North and split into two routes.

  • One continues North to join the existing West Coast Main Line just South of Wigan.
  • Another goes through Crewe station.

North of Crewe, the two routes join and then split into three at the Junction labelled 6.

  • To Warrington and Liverpool
  • To Wigan, Preston and Scotland
  • To Manchester Airport and Manchester.

A second Junction labelled 5, allows Northern Powerhouse Rail trains to run Liverpool-Warrington-Manchester Airport-Manchester.

This is a new layout and has the following advantages.

  • I estimate that trains could save 7-8 minutes on services running between Crewe and Wigan because of the longer running at High Speed Two operating speeds at 225 mph.
  • ,If they don’t stop at Crewe and Runcorn, further minutes could be saved.
  • Trains between London and Preston and London and Glasgow could skip the stop at Warrington to save further minutes.
  • There could be an advantageous reorganisation of stopping patterns.
  • London and Liverpool services and Liverpool and Manchester services could stop at Warrington, which would give Warrington very good connections.
  • The Liverpool-Manchester and Liverpool-Crewe Lines could be built to High Speed Two standards, which could allow 225 mph running.

I also think the track layout can be run alongside or underneath the various motorways in the area for a lot of the route between Liverpool, Crewe, Warrington and Manchester Airport.

It would appear to be a very good solution to a complex problem and overall, I suspect it gives better connectivity, at a more affordable cost, whilst creating a railway that can be built with less disruption and will ultimately produce less noise.

The Transport for the North report, also says the following.

  • There could be a new Warrington South Parkway station.
  • Six tph between Liverpool and Manchester via Warrington are planned.
  • Journey times will be 26 minutes.

The Twenty-first Century will finally get a modern and fast Liverpool and Manchester Railway.

  • Trains would stop at Manchester Airport, a new Warrington South Parkway and possibly Liverpool South Parkway.
  • Trains would run every ten minutes.
  • Trains would take 26 minutes between Liverpool and Manchester.

These are a few other thoughts on the route.

The Liverpool Terminus

The Transport for the North report proposes a new High Speed station in Liverpool.

  • It would possibly be alongside Liverpool Lime Street station.
  • It would handle both High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail services.
  • The station would need at least four platforms.
  • The station could be connected to Liverpool Lime Street station’s Wirral Line platform.

I believe that a well-designed station could be squeezed in, on the edge of Liverpool City Centre.

Should Trains Stop At Liverpool South Parkway?

I think this could be important, especially, if the station gets a link to Liverpool Airport.

Between Manchester Airport And Manchester City Centre

Most current trains between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport stations take between 15-18 minutes.

I don’t believe that these times are compatible with a 26 minute time between Liverpool and Manchester.

So I am fairly certain that to achieve the planned time in the Transport for the North report, that an almost direct tunnel between Manchester Airport and Manchester City Centre is necessary.

The Manchester City Centre Station

Could the tunnel pass through underground platforms at Manchester Piccadilly station, which run across the station and then surface to connect with the chosen route to Leeds?

In an earlier plan, referenced under Manchester City Centre (Phase 2b) in the  Wikipedia entry for High Speed Two,, this is said.

The route will continue from the airport into Manchester city centre via a 7.5-mile (12.1 km) twin bore branch tunnel under the dense urban districts of south Manchester before surfacing at Ardwick.

Under the earlier plan, trains would have gone into a rebuilt Manchester Piccadilly station.

I also wonder, if the solution would be to bore a tunnel under Manchester City Centre with stations under Manchester Piccadilly station, Piccadilly Gardens and Manchester Victoria.

  • It might be just one set of platforms with travellators, escalators and lifts all over Manchester City Centre.
  • It should be noted that two High Speed Two trains, running as a pair would be four hundred metres long.

One of the advantages of a train connection between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria station, would be that the Castlefield Corridor would be by-passed.

  • TransPennine Express services between Manchester Airport and the North-East would be replaced by Northern Powerhouse Rail services between Liverpool and the North-East via Manchester Airport.
  • The Castlefield Corridor would probably be reserved for local services.
  • Passengers needing Manchester Oxford Road or Deansgate stations would use the current Manchester Airport station.

There are probably other advantages.

Building The High Speed Liverpool And Manchester Line

I believe that this line can be built without too much disruption to existing services, because Crossrail’s construction didn’t disrupt London.

Conclusion

My overall conclusion is that it is feasible to build a Liverpool and Manchester High Speed Line, as an early part of Northern Powerhouse Rail, that will also be used by High Speed Two, when that is extended to Liverpool and Manchester.

 

 

 

March 21, 2020 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. One snag about cutting tunnels under the city centre areas is that there is a lot under there already, various underground archeology, and I think some of it is quite old. I suspect there would be a public outcry.

    Comment by nosnikrapzil | March 21, 2020 | Reply

    • It depends how deep they go! London never bothers about tunnels and some are fifty metres down In fact Londoners quite enjoy what’s dug up!

      Comment by AnonW | March 21, 2020 | Reply

  2. Phase 2b of HS2 & NPR design has not been nailed down yet. Manchester just put out a design to centre HS2 in…Manchester…with a big station complex. Unsurprisingly, their design omits Liverpool taking high speed track to Weaver junction.

    Expect phase 2b of HS2 to be dropped. The eastern section is not needed as existing lines when uprated match HS2 times. The western section is a super expensive circuitous route into Manchester.

    NPR need to be direct east-west via Manchester Victoria. Manchester airport’s traffic is far too light to warrant such expense as another line to it.

    Comment by John | July 6, 2020 | Reply


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