The Anonymous Widower

Beeching Reversal – East Didsbury – Stockport

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

This project has been puzzling me.

Search Google for “East Didsbury and Stockport Rail Link” and all you find is grandiose plans for billion pound extensions to the Manchester Metrolink.

Having researched a lot of the proposed Beeching Reversal projects, it appears to me, that the ones likely to be built, will give a lot of benefit for millions, not billions of pounds.

I just wonder, if in this project, Manchester is stealing an idea from Birmingham – the four-poster station!

This Google Map shows Smethwick Galton Bridge station.

This extract from the Wikipedia entry, describes the station.

The station was opened in September 1995 as part of the Jewellery Line scheme to reopen the line between Smethwick and Birmingham Snow Hill station. It was built as an interchange station between two lines, and the platforms on both lines opened at the same time.

Note.

  1. The four lift towers with stairs, that connect the four platforms, have pyramid roofs.
  2. The station is fully step-free.
  3. The rail lines are at different levels.

These pictures show the station.

It is a very practical architectural idea and the world needs more four-poster stations to connect rail lines where they cross at different levels.

Could A Four-Poster Station Link East Didsbury And Stockport?

These are my thoughts.

The Location

This Google Map shows the general area, where the station could be built.

It is a spaghetti of motorways and rail lines with a lumpy sauce of new housing called Barnes Village in the middle.

Note, where the two rail lines cross in the South-West corner of the map.

This second Google Map, shows an enlarged image of the location, where the two rail lines cross.

Note.

  1. The Styal Line runs North-South.
  2. The line running East-West is the Mid-Cheshire Line between Altrincham and Stockport stations.

I suspect most travellers joining the rail network at this point, would walk or cycle in from nearby locations or turn up in a taxi.

The Styal Line

The Styal Line has the following characteristics.

  • It is an electrified double-track line.
  • It connects Manchester Piccadilly and Wilmslow stations.
  • There is a spur that serves Manchester Airport station.
  • East Didsbury station, is the station North of where the two lines cross.
  • Gatley station, is the station South of where the two lines cross.
  • It is the route of trains to and from Manchester Airport.

These trains go through East Didsbury and Gatley stations in trains per hour (tph)

  • 1 tph – Northern – Liverpool Lime Street and Crewe
  • 1 tph – Northern – Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport
  • 1 tph – Northern – Manchester Airport and Blackpool North
  • 1 tph – Northern – Manchester Airport and Cumbria
  • 1 tph – Trains for Wales – Manchester Airport and Chester
  • 1 tph – TransPennine Express – Manchester Airport and Redcar Central
  • 1 tph – TransPennine Express – Manchester Airport and Newcastle
  • 1 tph – TransPennine Express – Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central or Edinburgh

Freight trains also use the route.

This means that currently, there are eight tph between the Castlefield Corridor (Deansgate, Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly) and Manchester Airport, all of which go through the location, where the four-poster station could possibly be built.

So could the new station, be used to take pressure off the overloaded Castlefield Corridor?

The Mid-Cheshire Line

The Mid-Cheshire Line has the following characteristics.

  • At this point it is a single-track without electrification.
  • It connects Stockport and Altrincham stations.

Re-Doubling Of The Mid Cheshire Line Between Stockport and Altrincham And Associated Station Reopenings is another of the Beeching Reversal projects and envisages the following.

  • Re-doubling the route.
  • Possible electrification
  • Reopening some stations.

This is the only passenger service that uses the route.

  • 1 tph – Northern – Manchester Piccadilly and Chester

Up to two-three freight tph, also use the route.

In the related post, I said this about the desired frequency of services between Manchester and Chester stations.

It could be argued that two tph between Manchester Piccadilly and Chester are needed now and that four tph should be the preferred frequency.

There certainly needs to be four tph going through the proposed four-poster station.

Conclusion

I am being drawn to the conclusion, that this station if it were to be built, would help a lot of problems with Manchester’s railways.

  • It would allow a sort out of train services to Manchester Airport.
  • It would connect Stockport and Manchester Airport.
  • It would connect Stockport and East Didsbury.
  • It could help a solution to the problem of the Castlefield Corridor.

The station should be built.

August 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Re-Doubling Of The Mid Cheshire Line Between Stockport and Altrincham And Associated Station Reopenings

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

Much of this project appears to be about bringing the former Stockport, Timperley and Altrincham Junction Railway, back up to somewhere near its original state.

This map clipped from Wikipedia shows the railway.

Note.

  1. Stockport Edgeley is now just Stockport station.
  2. Altrincham station is on the Mid-Cheshire Line.
  3. Baguley, Northenden and both Cheadle stations are now closed.

I have just flown my virtual helicopter between Stockport and Altrincham stations and much of the route is already double-track.

  • At Cheadle Village Junction, which appears to be behind Cheadle Heath Police Station, the track becomes single.
  • Just before Sharston Junction, which appears to be to the North-East of Sharston, the track becomes double again.

I estimate, that the single-track section is just over two miles long.

I was also able to ascertain, that there appeared to be plenty of space, where British Rail singled the track.

There is also a second section of single-track, through Navigation Road station, which is shown in this Google Map.

Note.

  1. Both tracks through Navigation Road station are bi-directional.
  2. The Metrolink track is on the West.
  3. The National Rail track is on the East.
  4. South of Navigation Road station, both Metrolink and National Rail get two tracks.

In the twenty-four hours to 0600 this morning, a total of seventeen freight movements, went through this section.

  • Some were biomass trains between Liverpool and Drax power station, up to 6400 tonnes.
  • Some were stone trains from the quarries in the Peak District.
  • Some were Network Rail engineering trains.

I suspect this abort section of single track for both Metrolink and Network Rail is an absolute pain.

The single track must cause a lot of problems as the route is sometimes used by two or three trains per hour (tph) in both directions.

As some of the trains are some of the UK’s longest freight trains, it could  also be very challenging for the signalling and the signallers.

Work That Could Be Done

These sub-projects could be performed.

Elimination of Single Track At Cheadle

I think this is essential and could greatly increase the capacity of the route.

This Youtube video from Don Coffey, shows the view from the cab, which travelling from Manchester to Chester. If you watch from about thirteen minutes, you’ll see the single-track section.

Sorting Out Navigation Road

As with the single-track section at Cheadle, I think this is essential and could greatly increase the capacity of the route.

Watch the same Youtube video from about twenty-two minutes, and you’ll see the single-track section, through Navigation Road station.

In Tram-Trains To Hale Station, I talked about the possibilities of using a variant of Class 399 tram-trains, similar to those running on the Sheffield Supertram.

Signalling

It could be there are minor adjustments or major work to get the most out of a double-track railway.

Electrification

This is an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry for the Mid-Cheshire Line.

In March 2015, the Electrification Task Force said that the Mid-Cheshire line was a tier 1 priority for being electrified in the CP6 period (2019-2024)

Would electrification be installed to perhaps run electric trains between Manchester Piccadilly and Chester?

Baguley Station

I covered Baguley station in Glazebrook Junction And Skelton Junction, where I said this.

Baguley station could be an interesting station, as it would be possible to create an interchange with the Manchester Metrolink. Wikipedia says this.

Proposals were made in the early 2000s to reopen a station in the Baguley area when the extension of the Metrolink out to Wythenshawe and Manchester Airport is actioned. In May 2011 re-opening of the station on the Stockport-Altrincham line was included in Transport for Greater Manchester’s Passenger Plan. The station would be on Southmoor Road and would be a tram/train interchange with the Baguley tram stop, which opened in 2014.

This Google Map shows the possible Baguley Interchange.

Note.

    1. The North-South road is Southmoor Road.
    2. The Metrolink branch to the Airport runs alongside.
    3. The Stockport and Altrincham Line crosses East-West towards the North of the map.

If you take a train between Manchester Piccadilly and Chester via Stockport, Navigation Road, Altrincham and Knutsford, you cross on the railway through here.

So perhaps a Baguley Interchange station, would help some people get to and from Manchester Airport?

Baguley station certainly has possibilities.

Cheadle North Station

Could Cheadle North station be replaced?

This article on the Manchester Evening News is entitled Cheadle ‘On Cusp’ Of Having Own Railway Station For First Time Since Mid-1960s, where this is said.

If ministers back the proposals, the railway station is likely to be built next to the Alexandra Hospital along the mid-Cheshire line – close to where the original Cheadle (later Cheadle North) station was.

This Google Map shows the Cheadle Alexandra Hospital and the Mid-Cheshire Line.

Note.

  1. The hospital is the largest private hospital in the UK, outside London.
  2. The railway, which is single-track at this point, runs along the South side of the site.

If the line is double-tracked, as seems likely, adding a small station would not be a challenging addition.

Northenden Station

Could Northenden station be replaced?

Future Train Services

The train service between Manchester Piccadilly and Chester is as follows.

  • The service is 45 miles.
  • It takes 90 minutes.
  • There are stops at Stockport, Navigation Road, Altrincham, Hale, Ashley, Mobberley, Knutsford, Plumley, Lostock Gtalam, Northwich, Greenbank, Cuddington, Delamere and Mouldsworth.

It could be argued that two tph between Manchester Piccadilly and Chester are needed now and that four tph should be the preferred frequency.

There are other services.

 

Conclusion

After restoring the double-track on this route, there are possibilities to spend, as much money as you want.

In Tram-Trains To Hale Station, these were my conclusions.

  • Tram-trains can deliver a capacity improvement through Navigation Road station.
  • Tram-trains could be extensively tested on the existing Manchester Metrolink network.
  • Tram-trains could be used to build a simple extension to Hale station from Altrincham.
  • The Manchester and Chester service via Stockport, Navigation Road and Altrincham stations could be run by tram-trains.

A comprehensive network of tram-trains could be developed between, through and beyond Altrincham, Crewe and Chester.

Cheshire would have a quality commuter and local train network into Manchester.

After all in the next couple of years, Merseyrail’s Cheshire network will be getting a major upgrade with new trains and perhaps another new route.

August 3, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Tram-Trains To Hale Station

In Manchester Metrolink Extensions In A Sentence, I quoted this sentence from the Manchester Evening News.

It includes tram extensions to Port Salford, Middleton and Stalybridge, plus ‘tram trains’ to Hale, Warrington, Gorton and Glossop.

How would tram-trains from Hale join the current Metrolink network?

Hale Station

Hale station, is located in a busy and important village, in the middle of Cheshire’s footballer suburb, if you believe the tabloids.

The station has some problems.

  • The station needs a refurbishment.
  • The station needs step-free access.
  • The level crossing needs removing.

But the biggest problem is that there is only an hourly service serving the station, that runs between Manchester Piccadilly and Chester stations. To make matters worse the train is only two cars. My train was a Pacer, as the pictures show.

Onward To Knutsford, Northwich, Middlewich and Sandbach

In Business Case Requested For Middlewich Reopening, I looked at the opening of Middlewich station on the Northwich to Sandbach Line, which is just a dozen miles to the West of Hale station.

I’m certain in other parts of the UK, like East London, Nottingham and East Lancashire, that the provision of a train service between Middlewich and Manchester would be heavily patronised.

Or is it that the people in Cheshire too posh to use trains?

The Wikipedia entry for Middlewich station, says this about the initial service, when the station opened. in 1868.

The basic train service for passengers was from Crewe via Sandbach to Middlewich and Northwich. Some trains reversed at Northwich and then continued to Hartford and Greenbank and then along a short stretch of the West Coast Main Line (WCML) to Acton Bridge.

If the Northwich and Sandbach Line is ever reopened, surely one possibility for a train service is between Crewe and Manchester via Sandbach, Middlewich, Northwich, Hale and Altrincham.

  • Such a service would allow passengers between Althincham and Sandbach to have a handy connection to Crewe with its famed connectivity.
  • It would be a very useful commuter service to and from Manchester.
  • If it had a frequency of two trains per hour (tph) it would give a substantial increase to train services between Northwich and Altrincham.
  • It could possibly ease the overcrowding on the Styal Line.

By 2030, it would even provide a link to High Speed Two at Crewe, in addition to the connection in Manchester.

The Class 399 Train-Train

The Class 399 tram-train is a cross between a tram and a train.

  • They are members of the Stadler Citylink family of tram-trains.
  • In the UK, they are already running successfully between the centre of Sheffield and Rotherham Parkgate Shopping Centre.
  • In Sheffield, they work as trams and drivers have told me, they are powerful trams, that cope with Sheffield’s hills extremely well.
  • The tram-trains have step-free access between tram-train and platform.
  • On the National Rail lines to Rotherham, they cruise happily at 100 kph, which is almost as fast as a Class 156 train.
  • They can run on both 25 KVAC and 750 VDC overhead electrification.
  • Trains for Wales have ordered thirty six similar Class 398 tram-trains, that can run on battery power, where electrification has not been erected.

This is one of Sheffield’s Class 399 tram-trains at Rotherham Parkgate.

Note the step-free access.

They are a very versatile tram or train, depending on where they are running.

I would suspect the following will happen in the next few years.

  • Sheffield are planning to replace their ageing tram fleet and they will look seriously at more Class 399 tram-trains, as they perform well as trams and the region needs more tram-trains.
  • Manchester have stated that they are looking seriously at tram-trains and Class 399 tram-trains will surely be considered.
  • Other tram networks are looking at tram-trains and they won’t ignore the Class 399 tram-train.

I feel we can expect to see more of these tram-trains in the UK.

Manchester Metrolink Needs More Trams

Manchester Metrolink will need more trams in the next few years and I wouldn’t be surprised that the new ones have a tram-train capability.

Testing Tram-Trains On The Manchester Metrolink

On the Sheffield Supertram, the new tram-trains were first tested as trams on the existing network.

This approach could be taken on the Manchester Metrolink, to both full test the tram-trains and train the staff.

Improving Navigation Road

Navigation Road station has two platforms, one of which is used for the Metrolink and the other for National Rail.

The station could be configured, so that the Western platform would be for Northbound services and the Eastern platform would be for all Southbound services.

There would be two pairs of tracks leading away from the Northern end of the station; one pair for Metrolink services and the other for National Rail services.

The current two pairs of tracks South of Navigation Road station would be used as follows.

  • The Western pair would be for any Metrolink tram services terminating in Altrincham station.
  • The Eastern pair would be for National Rail services and Metrolink tram-train services going beyond Altrincham station.

Tram-trains running past Altrincham station, would either need the tracks to be electrified or the tram-trains to be fitted with batteries.

Possible Tram-Train Routes To Hale

These are possible routes.

A Metrolink Extension From Altrincham

This is the simplest option, where tram-trains would replace some or all of the service on the Atrincham and Bury and Altrincham and Piccadilly Metrolink services.

The tram-trains would use new electrification or onboard batteries South of Navigation Road.

A Northward Extension From Manchester Victoria Station

In Could A Class 399 Tram-Train With Batteries Go Between Manchester Victoria And Rochdale/Bury Bolton Street/Rawtenstall Stations?, I looked at the possibilities of a Northward extension of the Metrolink,  using tram-trains, that had been suggested by an article in the February 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

I have included it here, as it would be a good destination for a cross-city tram-train service, that started at Hale.

A Southward Extension From Altrincham To Middlewich

If the Sandbach and Northwich Line were to be reopened to traffic with a station at Middlewich, this would be a possible Southern terminus for the route.

The distance would probably be too far for battery operation, so there would be a need to electrify the extension using either 25 KVAC main line or 750 VDC tramway electrification.

As the route has been used by Virgin’s Euston and Chester services as a diversion route, and the Crewe and Chester Line has a high priority for electrification, there is a chance that lines in the area will be electrified.

This could mean the tram-trains could easily run from Altrincham as far as Crewe, as the route could be fully electrified.

Tram-Train Between Manchester Piccadilly and Hale Via Stockport

On the route between Manchester Piccadilly and Hale station via Stockport, there are only two stations between Stockport and Hale station; Navigation Road and Altrincham.

Would it be feasible or worthwhile to convert this route into tram-train operation by perhaps adding 750 VDC overhead electrification?

  • There is typically one or two freight trains and one Chester and Manchester Piccadilly service in each direction in every hour, so two tram-trains per hour in each direction should be possible.
  • Stops could be added at convenient places.
  • Between Stockport and Manchester Piccadilly stations, the existing 25 KVAC electrification would be used.

It would not be the largest project.

The Refurbishment Of Hale Station

Hale station needs a refurbishment and a step-free bridge.

In Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition, I wrote how the competition was won by this bridge.

So could a factory-built bridge like this be installed at Hale station?

This Google Map shows Hale station.

I think a new bridge could be installed at the Northern end of the station, if it were to be decided that the current one couldn’t be fitted with lifts.

The Electrification And Bi-Mode Alternative

As I said earlier the Crewe and Chester Line could be electrified, which would enable electric trains to run between London and Chester.

However, since the award of the West Coast Partnership to First Trenitalia, I now think it is unlikely the Crewe and Chester Line will be electrified in the near future, as new bi-mode trains will be ordered for North Wales services.

But I don’t reject the notion, that Northern will run bi-mode Class 769 trains between Manchester Piccadilly and Chester.

These trains could use the electrification between Stockport and Manchester Piccadilly stations.

Conclusion

These are my conclusions.

  • Tram-trains can deliver a capacity improvement through Navigation Road station.
  • Tram-trains could be extensively tested on the existing Manchester Metrolink network.
  • Tram-trains could be used to build a simple extension to Hale station from Altrincham.
  • The Manchester and Chester service via Stockport, Navigation Road and Altrincham stations could be run by tram-trains.

A comprehensive network of tram-trains could be developed between, through and beyond Altrincham, Crewe and Chester.

 

 

 

August 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments