The Anonymous Widower

Macclesfield Station And High Speed Two

Today, I went to Macclesfield station.

In the latest iteration of High Speed Two, two new destinations were added to the High Speed Two Network; Macclesfield and Lancaster.

These pictures show Macclesfield station.

It is a modern station, with three through platforms, two bridges and some Modernist architecture from the 1970s, that could be improved.

This Google Map shows the layout of the station.


  1. Platform 1 is in the West and is used by trains to Stockport and Manchester Piccadilly.
  2. Platform 2 is in the middle and is used by trains going to Stoke, London and the South.
  3. Platform 3 is in the East and appears to be used a couple of times per day.
  4. It also appears there might have been a fourth platform.

All platforms appear capable of handling an eleven-car Class 390 train, which are over two hundred and sixty metres in length.


Is the plan to use Macclesfield as a High Speed Two terminal feasible?

Which Trains Will High Speed Two Use On Macclesfield Services?

It appears that High Speed Two will have two types of trains.

  1. Trains built to the European loading gauge, that will only be able to work on high lines like High Speed One and High Speed Two. Examples would be Eurostar’s Class 373 and Class 374 trains.
  2. Trains built to the UK loading gauge, that could also work on existing UK 125 mph routes like the East Coast, Great Western, Midland and West Coast Main Lines. Examples would be Class 800. Class 801, Class 802, Class 390 and Class 745 trains.

The second type, which are referred to, as class-compatible trains will be used to Macclesfield, as these services will share track with Class 390 and other trains, that have been or will be built to the smaller UK loading gauge.

Will Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains Fit Into Macclesfield Station?

Currently, every hour, one eleven-car Class 390 train calls in Macclesfield station in both directions, as they provide one of Avanti \west Coast’s three trains per hour (tph) between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly stations.

The current trains are sixty metres longer than the proposed classic-compatible High Speed Two trains, that could be terminating in Macclesfield station.

How Would Passengers Who Started And Finished Their Journeys In Macclesfield, Connect to Manchester?

Currently, these hourly services connect Manchester Piccadilly and Stoke stations.

  • Avanti West Cost – Manchester Piccadilly and London Euston.
  • CrossCountry – Manchester Piccadilly and Bournemouth
  • CrossCountry – Manchester Piccadilly and Bristol
  • Northern – Manchester Piccadilly and Stoke, which stops at all stations.

The characteristics would be common to all these four trains.

  • Services call at Stockport, Macclesfield and Stoke stations.
  • As services share tracks with a High Speed Two service, they must be reasonably fast.
  • All except the Northern service are 125 mph trains.
  • The Northern service is run by a 90 mph Class 323 electric train.
  • As Manchester Piccadilly and Stoke via Stockport is a fully-electrified route, the trains should probably be able to take advantage.

In an ideal world should the frequency be six tph or one train every ten minutes in each direction?

Which Platforms Would Be Used To Terminate High Speed Two Services?

Trains built to the UK loading gauge could probably terminate in any of the three platforms.

But it might be advantageous to terminate all services in the same platform.

Platform 3 would be the obvious choice.

  • It shares an island platform with classic services going South between Manchester Piccadilly and Stoke.
  • Passengers starting their journeys in Manchester Piccadilly or Stockport could just walk across from their connecting train to the High Speed Two train.

It must surely be a possibility to make Platform 2 able to operate bi-directionally, so that all trains between Manchester Piccadilly and Stoke stations in both directions, stop in Platform 2, alongside the High Speed Two train for London and the South, that is waiting in Platform 3. The combined frequency would be eight tph. All passengers would just walk across the island platform to change trains.

Could A North-Facing Bay Platform Be Fitted Into The Northern End Of The Island Platform 2/3?

If you are going to provide a High Speed Two service to and from Macclesfield station, it needs to have superb and comprehensive connections to as many places as possible.

The station currently has four tph to Manchester Piccadilly, Stockport and Stoke, but would a North-facing bay platform with level access to the High Speed Two platform make any of the following feasible?

  • Run a second local stopping service between Manchester Piccadilly and Macclesfield to give all intermediate stations two tph to High Speed Two.
  • Run hourly services to places that don’t have good connections to high speed services to London and the South.
  • The Stockport and Stalybridge Line could be used to connect Stalybridge and Huddersfield to High Speed Two.
  • There might even be a way of creating a link between Macclesfield and Manchester Airport.


  1. Looking at the platform layout at Macclesfield station, fitting in a bay platform would appear to be feasible.
  2. The important Stockport station, which seems to have been forgotten by High Speed Two would probably have at least six tph to High Speed Two at Macclesfield station.
  3. The local train could be timed to arrive at Macclesfield station, a convenient time before the High Speed Two train is scheduled to depart.

The bay platform could even be part of Platform 3, if it was decided that trains stopping in Platform 3, never used the platform as a through platform. It would be Macclesfield’s version of the Clapham Kiss.

I suspect more space could be found, by moving the signal box at the end of the station.

\remember that these days most signalling is controlled from centralised Rail Operation Centres.

Could High Speed Two Trains Run Between Macclesfield And Manchester Piccadilly?

As I said earlier, High Speed Two’s classic-compatible trains will be the same cross-section and shorter, than an eleven-car Class 390 train.

So the answer to my question must be yes!

  • This would enable a stop at Stockport station.
  • No platform lengthening would be required at Manchester Piccadilly and Stockport stations.

High Speed Two must have good reasons for using Macclesfield as a terminal.

  • There are capacity issues between Macclesfield and Manchester Piccadilly stations.
  • Macclesfield offers opportunities to connect to places, that are difficult to reach from Manchester Piccadilly station.

But these problems could probably be overcome by digital signalling or extension of the Manchester Metrolink.

Could More High Speed Two Services Run Between Macclesfield Station and The South?


  • I believe that Macclesfield station could handle more than an hourly High Speed Two train.
  • It is a general principle, that on a metro like the London Overground or Merseyrail, that a single platform can handle up to four or even six tph.
  • Four tph would surely be too high, but Macclesfield could easily handle a second classic-compatible train to and from Birmingham Curzon Street via Stoke and Stafford.
  • During the inevitable works at Manchester Piccadilly station to sccomodate High Speed Two, Macclesfield could offer an alternative route, between London and Manchester.

Using Macclesfield station, as an alternative terminal for Manchester Piccadilly, builds in extra capacity for the future and offers a valuable alternative route during construction and upgrade works.

Rationalisation Between Cross Country And High Speed Two


  • In a lot of locations North of Birmingham, CrossCountry and High Speed Two seem to provide similar services between the same stations.
  • Using currently proposed connections between High Speed Two and the classic network, CrossCountry’s services could run faster.
  • CrossCountry’s new fleet of trains will probably be multi-mode trains, that will be very similar to the classic-compatible High Speed Two trains.
  • Some of the routes used by CrossCountry’s services will have a substantial upgrade to allow higher speeds and more trains, to speed up High Speed Two services.

There must be a case for rationalisation of services.


The more I look at High Speed Two terminating at Macclesfield station, the more I like it.

I can see these services running from the station in the future.

  • High Speed Two – Macclesfield and London Euston – One tph – This service would additionally call at Birmingham Interchange to link up with CrossCountry to the South.
  • High Speed Two – Macclesfield and Birmingham Curzon Street – One tph
  • CrossCountry – Macclesfield and Bournemouth, Plymouth or Reading – One tph.
  • Northern and others – Macclesfield and Manchester Piccadilly via Stockport – Four-six tph
  • Northern – Macclesfield and Huddersfield via Stockport and Stalybridge – Two tph
  • Northern – Macclesfield and Manchester Airport – Two tph.

Obviously, this is all speculation, but Macclesfield will develop into an important rail hub to the South-East of Manchester.


July 14, 2020 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , ,


  1. Macclesfield is: Old Oak Common, Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent then Macclesfield. Off HS2 at Birmingham. That leads me to believe the eastern section of HS2 has been canned.

    HS2 is a poorly designed high speed railway. It is only 2-tracks from Birmingham to London. This section is saturated from day one, as the traffic from the west and east leg pour into it. Even the west section of HS2 is saturated as the Liverpool-Birmingham service is bumped off, as is the city of Chester entirely.

    If the eastern section is canned, less trains will use the slow London-Birmingham section, so releasing a few slots for trains from the North West.

    London to Birmingham Curzon St is 100 miles, yet it is covered in 52 minutes, which is 116 mph on a 250 mph railway – and all for £107 bn. Time to pull the plug.

    Comment by John | July 14, 2020 | Reply

  2. […] came across this railway, when I was writing Macclesfield Station And High Speed Two, as I felt the Stockport and Stalybridge Line could be a useful connection to the proposed High […]

    Pingback by Beeching Reversal – Stockport And Ashton Line « The Anonymous Widower | July 15, 2020 | Reply

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