The Anonymous Widower

Manchester Piccadilly ‘Super Hub’ Proposed

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

This is the introductory sentence.

A Manchester Piccadilly ‘super hub’ has been proposed as part of the High Speed North rail project.

And these two paragraphs lay out the proposed design.

To create the super hub, the report suggests a new tunnel from Ordsall into Manchester Piccadilly from the west, which could connect to High Speed 2 (HS2) and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).

Fast trains from Chester and North Wales, Liverpool, Blackpool, Barrow and Glasgow could travel through the super hub with services emerging eastwards and across the Pennines to Leeds/Bradford, Sheffield, Hull, York and Newcastle.

Five years ago, I wrote Whither HS2 And HS3?, which argued for greater integration of the two routes and more tunnelled stations under major cities to build High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail with less disruption.

Part of that post was deliberately over the top, but it seems that others have been thinking in a similar way.

Last year, I wrote Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, which was an attempt to add detail to this report on the Transport for the North web site, which is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail.

The proposed Manchester Piccadilly ‘Super Hub’ fits very well with the Transport for the North report.

  • The station, could have entrances and exits were all over Manchester City Centre
  • The main platforms could be long East-West through platforms, that would have direct tunnelled approaches from both directions.
  • There could also be terminating platforms to take services from North Wales, Blackpool, Barrow and Glasgow.
  • According to the Wikipedia entry for High Speed Two, the Western tunnel would be 7.5 miles long and link Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport stations at speeds of up to 142 mph.
  • As a High Speed Two size tunnel will be needed on the Eastern approach, if High Speed Two trains eventually use the route, could this tunnel extend for perhaps five miles with speeds of up to 142 mph, to speed up journey times?
  • Journey times between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport stations could be under four minutes.

The Manchester Piccadilly ‘Super Hub’, High Speed Two And Liverpool

This clip of a map from the Transport for the North report shows a schematic of the current and possible rail links in the area.

High Speed Two 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.

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

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

Will a Liverpool and Manchester time of 26 minutes be possible with two stops?

  • I estimate Liverpool and Manchester will be a distance of 43 miles.
  • As the will be a newly-built railway high speed railway, I suspect it will be at least a 125 mph line between Liverpool and Manchester Airport.
  • But it is perfected feasible, that this section could be designed for speeds up to 140 mph or even the High Speed Two speed of 186 mph.
  • TransPennine Express‘s current Class 802 trains, can run at up to 140 mph, so could take advantage of the higher speed.
  • In addition, the Wikipedia entry for High Speed Two says that trains will use the Manchester Airport to Manchester City Centre tunnel at speeds of up to 142 mph.

Calculating journey times for various average speeds, including the two stops at Warrington South Parkway and Manchester Airport stations gives the following.

  • 100 mph – 26 minutes
  • 125 mph – 21 minutes
  • 140 mph – 18 minutes

If the Liverpool and Manchester Airport section were to be built to High Speed Two standards, I can see a very comfortable Liverpool and Manchester time of under twenty minutes.

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

Going East From The Manchester Piccadilly ‘Super Hub’

The principle long-distance destinations to the East of Manchester Piccadilly station use one of two routes.

The Huddersfield Line to Leeds and beyond.

The Hope Valley Line to Sheffield and beyond.

Both routes leave the Manchester Branch of the West Coast Man Line out of Manchester Piccadilly station at Ardwick Junction.

This Google Map shows Ardwick Junction, Ardwick station and the Siemens Train Care Facility.

It would appear that the Eastern portal of the tunnels that lead to the proposed underground platforms of the Manchester Piccadilly ‘Super-Hub’ could emerge in this area.


  1. Ardwick station is about a mile from Manchester Piccadilly station.
  2. The Sheffield and Leeds routes split about a mile to the East of Ardwick station.
  3. The large site of the Train Care Facility, could surely be used for the tunnel portal.

The Transport for the North report says this about the services to the East from Manchester.

  • Sic tph between Manchester and Leeds are planned.
  • Four tph between Manchester and Sheffield are planned.

Ten tph through the underground platforms is surely possible, when Crossrail will handle 24 tph with full digital signalling.

A Manchester And Leeds High Speed Line

This clip of a map from the Transport for the North report shows a schematic of the rail links to the East of Manchester.

Two alternative routes are proposed between Manchester and Leeds.

  • The black route would be created by upgrading the Huddersfield Line.
  • The yellow route would be a new route via Bradford.

The Transport for the North report says this about the Leeds-Manchester service.

  • There will be six tph.
  • The journey will take 25 minutes.

In Is There Going To Be Full Electrification Between Leeds And Huddersfield?, I detailed Network Rail’s £2.9 billion proposal to upgrade the existing route between Huddersfield and Leeds. This is the black route.

If this project results in the full electrification between Leeds and Hudderfield, the Leeds and Manchester route will have these characteristics.

  • It will be about forty-two miles long
  • All except the sixteen mile section between Stalybridge and Huddersfield is electrified or is planned to be so.
  • Network Rail have published plans to upgrade Huddersfield station.
  • The section between Huddersfield and Dewbury will be upgraded to four tracks.
  • The approach to the underground platforms at Manchester Piccadilly station could be in a two-mile 100 mph tunnel.
  • Twenty-five minutes between Leeds and Manchester will need an average speed of 100 mph.

I don’t think it is unreasonable to assume that with a few other improvements, that the twenty-five minute time between Leeds and Manchester is possible.

New 140 mph Trains Will Be Needed

Consider a Blackpool and Leeds service via Preston, Wigan North Western, Warrington, Manchester Airport, Manchester and Huddersfield.

  • It could be a fully-electrified route, if between Stalybridge and Huddersfield were to be electrified.
  • Much of the route would be cleared for at least 140 mph running including the West Coast Main Line and the new route between Warrington and Manchester Piccadilly via Manchester Airport.
  • Some sections of the route would allow more than 140 mph, but most would be 140 mph or less.

Without doubt, trains capable of running at 140 mph would be needed to make full use of the operating speeds available.


May 5, 2020 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] The architects are Weston Williamson and I have felt for years that this was the best way and I put my ideas and some fragments from the press and Northern Powerhouse Rail in Manchester Piccadilly ‘Super Hub’ Proposed. […]

    Pingback by The Rival Plans For Piccadilly Station, That Architects Say Will ‘Save Millions’ « The Anonymous Widower | June 30, 2020 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.