The Anonymous Widower

Liverpool’s Forgotten Station

Edge Hill station is Liverpool’s forgotten station.

For instance, it could be the only train station in the UK, with a better than two trains per hour (tph) service in both directions, that doesn’t have any displays telling passengers, when the next train is arriving.

These pictures show the station.

Note.

  1. The station is Grade II* Listed.
  2. It does have a good clock.
  3. There are four platforms on two islands.
  4. The only way to get to Platforms 3 and 4, is by one of the worst subways, I’ve seen in many years.

If ever a station needed a good makeover, it is Edge Hill.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. The Northern island platform is 1 & 2. All trains using these platforms seem to use platforms 1 to 5 at Liverpool Lime Street station.
  2. The Southern island platform is 3 & 4. All trains using these platforms seem to use platforms 6 to 10 at Liverpool Lime Street station.
  3. The deep four-track cutting, that leads to Lime Street station can be clearly seen to the West of the station.
  4. The lines to the South of the station, that run to the West, lead to the disused Wapping Tunnel. Surprisingly, the tracks still seem to be in place.
  5. The lines to the North of the station, that run to the West, lead to the disused Victoria Tunnel, that used to take freight to and from Liverpool Docks.

There is certainly a lot of space around the station to put in extra platforms and a flyover or two.

Connecting The Wapping Tunnel To The Lines Going To The East

In Liverpool’s Forgotten Tunnel, I talked about a resurrected plan to use the Wapping Tunnel for passenger trains.

This was my opening sentences of the post.

The Wapping Tunnel in Liverpool was designed by George Stephenson and was the first tunnel in the world to be bored under a city.

It used to take goods trains between Liverpool Docks and the Liverpool and Manchester Line.

During the 1970s preparations were made to connect the Wapping Tunnel to Merseyrail’s Northern Line, so that trains could run between the Northern Line and the City Line, which would have connected the North and East of the City.

But the project was never completed.

I also included this recent map of the scheme.

The proposed line through the Wapping Tunnel, is shown as a dotted blue line.

Components of the scheme include.

  • Four to eight tph instead of turning back at Liverpool Central station would use the Wapping Tunnel to access Edge Hill and then continue to Liverpool South Parkway, Manchester Airport, Manchester Oxford Road, St. Helens, Warrington and Wigan.
  • A new station will be built at Liverpool University.
  • A new station could be built at St. James. at a future date.

It looks to be a sensible scheme, providing the engineering isn’t too difficult.

New Platforms On The Wapping Tunnel Lines

This Google Map shows the lines leading to the Wapping Tunnel.

Note.

  1. Platform 4 is just off the Northern side of the map.
  2. There is a double track leading to the Wapping Tunnel.
  3. It looks like the other tracks are the entry to a marshalling yard, that used to serve the Docks, through the Wapping Tunnel.

I can see two platforms on either side or a single island platform between the two tracks being built, that is connected to the current station using a stylish step-free bridge, as at Leeds or Reading stations.

Connecting To The Liverpool South Parkway Route

This Google Map shows the Wapping Tunnel lines, as they pass to the South of the station.

Note.

  1. The Eastern ends of the two island platforms are clearly visible.
  2. Platforms 1 and 2, which connect to Wavertree Technology Park, St. Helens and Wigan are the Northern platform.
  3. Platforms 3 and 4, which connect to Liverpool South Parkway, Runcorn and London are the Southern platform.
  4. The lines through the Wapping Tunnel, are the two closest lines to the station.

It does appear that connecting the Wapping Lines to those to Liverpool South Parkway would probably need a series of well-designed crossovers.

In fact they might already be in place and just need refurbishment or replacement.

Connecting To The Wavertree Technology Park Route

Trains needing to go between the Wapping Tunnel lines and the lines towards Wavertree Technology Park, St. Helens and Wigan would need to cross right over the busy lines into Liverpool Lime Street station.

So I suspect for efficient operation, a flyover or dive-under will need to be built.

Conclusion

I don’t think that the engineering to connect the Wapping Tunnel lines to the Eastern routes from Edge Hill station, will be too challenging, as there is certainly plenty of space.

I also feel, that an innovative architect can create an efficient station with character.

 

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

14 Comments »

  1. Wapping tunnel is a bit like Snow Hill in London, which reopened N-S links through the city centre. If you also connect the Wirral and Northern Lines, you would have the makings of an integrated rail network more like London’s, rather than the current hotchpotch.

    The Echo summarised the rail upgrades Liverpool needs earlier this year https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/seven-rail-upgrades-region-really-17627280
    As the article says, the key is deciding what to do with Central, which needs expanding but is constrained in space. As Lime St is also constrained, not just in space but also by the long approach from Edge Hill, one option, not mentioned in the article, is to build an entirely new station as part of NPR, which would take traffic from both Central and Lime St. There are quite a few old lines/tunnels that could be reopened to give Liverpool plenty of options at a relatively modest cost.

    I agree with Steve Rotheram (and other metro mayors) that the key is devolution of transport so that local authorities can decide on priorities rather than the DfT/national government.

    Comment by Peter Robins | August 22, 2020 | Reply

    • London has four full-size rail tunnels, that cross the city; Crossrail, East London Line, Northern and City and Thameslink and all are being fitted with what will be applied to Liverpool’s three tunnels; Northern, Wapping and Wirral in the next few years.

      The secret ingredient will be digital signalling and it will enable at least 20 trains per hour (tph) and possibly 30 tph to run in London.

      So why shouldn’t it run in Liverpool?

      Just imagine a Wirral Line with twenty tph through the loop!

      Or a Northern Line running 24 tph through the City Centre with 12 tph to Edge Hill.

      Quite frankly, 4-8 tph running to Edge Hill is an insult to the technology.

      Liverpool has the basis of a very high capacity system.

      Modern digital signalling will also give Lime Street a massive capacity of at least twenty tph. If Dear Old Vicky (London’s Victoria Line) can handle 36 tph in two platforms at Walthamstow Central and Brixton, I estimate that a modern station like Lime Street could handle twenty tph on just five platforms, if they were all coming in on the same lines.

      If all local services used the Wapping Tunnel, Lime Street would have ten platforms.

      Lime Street station is the sleeping high-capacity giant of rail in the North.

      It might be considered that all long distance services out of Lime Street, made a quick call at Edge Hill for local services.

      Or perhaps a travelator should be dug between Lime Street and Central.

      Comment by AnonW | August 22, 2020 | Reply

      • the main capacity constraints with Central are the no of passengers it can handle rather than the no of trains. Wikipedia states that it has the highest no of passengers per platform in the country. James St still relies on lifts (irritates me every time I go there). The new trains are supposed to be able to accommodate 50% more passengers without any signal improvements. They also have provision for taking power from both 3rd-rail and OLE, so like Thameslink should be able to handle a route combining both.

        Comment by Peter Robins | August 22, 2020

  2. Thanks!

    Later today, I’ll pull it all together in a new post.

    Comment by AnonW | August 22, 2020 | Reply

  3. see https://localwiki.org/liverpool/Extending_Rapid_Transit_Merseyrail for some more ideas

    Comment by Peter Robins | August 22, 2020 | Reply

    • I find the localwiki article a little harsh in regard Merseytravel and it’s aspirations. I don’t feel that they held the whip hand. DfT were very much in austerity mode in 2009 and not likely to back this megabucks scheme. Indeed the entire northern rail network was viewed on a no growth basis. Funding was not even available to lengthen the class 185s.

      In changed political circumstances infrastructure development is now in vogue. I agree with your previous comment regarding the NPR station which could go a long way in relieving capacity problems both at Central and Lime Street.

      Comment by Fenline scouser | August 22, 2020 | Reply

      • I do wonder whether there has been a change of heart in station design. A fortune was spent on St. Pancras and somewhat less next door on Kings Cross. But now, operationally for both staff and passengers, Kings Cross is considered much better station, where passengers emerge on the level into a large square.

        After its remodelling Lime Street is more Kings Cross than St. Pancras and takes an operational station to a new level, with two sets of five platforms each having their own pair of tracks to Edge Hill. Look at real time trains for Lime Street and you’ll see few trains indicated in red.

        I think that Network Rail and the DfT are learning from past mistakes.

        I can see NPR having six tph to Manchester Airport, Manchester and beyond, perhaps four tph for High Speed Two to London Birmingham and Sheffield and three tph of other 125 mph services to Blackpool and Scotland.

        That’s only thirteen tph to fit into ten platforms using two pairs of tracks.

        I am fairly certain, that by using modern signalling and modern trains, that Lime Street station doesn’t need any more rebuilding.

        Especially, if all local services can use the Wapping Tunnel and perhaps another platform was squeezed in.

        The one thing, I could see though, is the creation of the largest pedestrian area in England outside the station, bounded by St. George’s Hall and the Museums.

        It will also be made Grade One Listed.

        Comment by AnonW | August 22, 2020

  4. Of course there is another way to connect the Northern and City lines. Prior to the building of the link and loop there was an infrequent Lime Street to Southport express which, if memory serves correctly, ran Saturdays only, The route ran via the Bootle branch then northward on the Southport line with stops at Waterloo, Formby (for Pontins) and Southport and was covered by a first generation DMU. I’m unsure whether it originated Southport and returned or vice versa.
    The service frequency was either 2 or 3 (I forget) trips a day.
    I’m not advocating reinstatement merely pointing out that such a route exists.
    Now if I were to get my cerebral crayon box out and have a think about turning eastwards at Edge Hill onto Chat Moss Up or rebuild the viaduct and gain Ditton Up or ? Hunt’s Cross………..
    One last point. The aforementioned service was extremely poorly patronised!

    Comment by Fenline scouser | August 22, 2020 | Reply

  5. It looks like there’s still a connection between the Canada Dock Branch and the Southport Line just to the South of Bootle Oriel Road station.

    Comment by AnonW | August 22, 2020 | Reply

    • Indeed there is but let me emphasise that I am not advocating reinstatement. Such a proposal would have several problems.

      Firstly I doubt that Lime Street has excess capacity for a regular service over the route and even if it does other developments would probably take precedence. There are numerous proposals for new and reintroduced long distance services from the station.

      Secondly, as to my crayon scribblings, eastbound onto Chat Moss is probably the easiest but I doubt there is a latent passenger demand for such a route. Grade separation to gain Ditton Up would probably be most useful with interchange possibilities at South Parkway and Oriel Road but with the downsides of not providing City line connection and considerable expense in (re)building the viaduct.

      Thirdly it is likely that freight traffic over the Bootle branch will increase due to ongoing port development leading to pathing difficulties.

      I’m sure the introduction of class 777 units will be a game changer for Merseyrail but reckon line extensions with battery running will be the priority. Top of my list would be Hunts Cross to Warrington simply because of the size of population to be served. Preston and Wigan would follow. Ellesmere Port to Helsby would be an easy gain.

      I also wonder whether 777s will eventually displace 230s Bidston – Wrexham, My understanding is that very quick reversal is currently necessary at Bidston due to blocking of the “main” line. Any delays lead to havoc regarding timetable. 777s would have the advantage of running through then round the loop with much improved connectivity. Spare capacity is available with current signalling.

      More 777s would be necessary for these schemes but I note that following completion of initial order 0f 52 Merseytravel have options for 60 more.

      As for infrastructure improvements I would prioritise the smaller schemes with quick delivery potential. Burscough chord(s) should be relatively easy and open up many local travel opportunities. Next would come the spur to Skem and longer term sorting out Central’s capacity problems. Quoted costs of £400million seem very optimistic to me.

      Only following completion of the above would I consider the Wapping tunnel scheme.

      You may say that I’m a dreamer…….

      Comment by Fenline scouser | August 22, 2020 | Reply

      • It looks like the tracks are still there for the Liverpool Southport Express. Wikipedia’s entry for the Canada Dock branch shows a link to the Northern Line between Bank Hall and Oriel Road, which I suspect could be used.

        One place to serve from trains coming out of the Wapping Tunnel would be to take the Canada Dock Branch and terminate in Southport or Canada Dock.

        My helicopter has shown me, how the biomass gets out of Gladstone Dock. I don’t think, there will be too much trouble mixing the freight and passenger trains on the Canada Dock Branch, as they work the two very well together across North London on two lines with about an hourly freight train in both directions.
        TfL are even thinking of opening up another freight route to passenger services at eight tph.

        I reckon the 777s could reach Oxford Road with a pantograph. Now that would be a political problem, but it would solve the charging problem.

        If the 777s run to Wrexham, they’ll do it from the loop, as that solves the blocking and charging problems. The loop with modern digital signalling probably has a theoretical limit of 30 tph, if all the trains are identical. They will recharge at Wrexham.

        The Burscough chords open up all sorts of possibilities and I suspect that running Southport and Preston could be useful. I could see the 777s running to Blackpool South, rather than turning at Preston, as they’d get a good charge on the slow line of the West Coast Main Line and could use battery power on the branch.

        The 777s are Empire builders. And they’ve got a similar performance to a Class 153 or Class 156.

        Comment by AnonW | August 23, 2020

      • OK this is definitely out of left field and certainly a dated reference but the sound track included made me smile. I think there may be some “poetic license” regarding the historical accuracy.

        http://www.merseytart.com/search/label/Edge%20Hill

        Comment by Fenline scouser | August 24, 2020

  6. the last iteration of the long-term rail strategy is at https://www.liverpoolcityregion-ca.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/LCRCA_RAIL_STRATEGY_MAY18.pdf. The various proposals are listed from p21. Burscough chords has a poor business case (low demand for such services). The Skem link is a priority, but as I see it this should be both E and W, with trains to Wigan and maybe Manchester as well as Liverpool, so I don’t see it as purely Merseyrail.

    The 777s are now starting to be tested, and the battery test should be starting before too long (delayed by Covid AIUI). The big advantage of battery operation as I see it is that it enables improvement/expansion of the service without spending much money (in fact, long term it may well be cheaper than diesel). So I agree that current routes will be extended first before considering any other links/reopenings.

    Comment by Peter Robins | August 23, 2020 | Reply

  7. as a follow-up re Wapping Tunnel, this is highlighted as one of 4 worked examples in the latest draft of TfN’s Strategic Development Corridors, Qualitative Sequencing. See the agenda for the last Board meeting https://transportforthenorth.com/wp-content/uploads/ADocPackPublic.version0001.pdf (p163-4)

    This document also includes a list of schemes (road and rail, at the end, from p205) TfN is proposing as part of their Northern Infrastructure Pipeline as part of their Economic Recovery Plan. National politics is currently looking very favourable for realising these schemes.

    Comment by Peter Robins | August 30, 2020 | Reply


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