The Anonymous Widower

Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool Lime Street And Some Other Stations Compared

I am doing this exercise to get a handle on the scale of the problem at Platforms 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly station.

In 2018/19, these were some passenger statistics for the two stations and some others.

  • Birmingham New Street station handled 47.928 million passengers on its thirteen platforms or 3.62 million per platform per year.
  • Brighton station handled 17.385 million passengers on its eight platforms or 2.17 million per platform per year.
  • Bristol Temple Meads station handled 11.368 million passengers on its thirteen platforms or 0.87 million per platform per year.
  • Cardiff station handled 14.205 million passengers on its eight platforms or 1.78 million per platform per year.
  • Chelmsford station handled 8.927 million passengers on two platforms of 4.46 million per platform per year.
  • Crewe station handled 3.318 million passengers on its twelve platforms or 0.28 million per platform per year.
  • Deansgate station handled 0.458 million passengers on its two platforms or 0.23 million per platform per year.
  • Doncaster station handled 3,918 million passengers on its nine platforms or 0.44 million per platform per year.
  • East Croydon station handled 24.770 million passengers on its six platforms or 4.12 million per platform per year.
  • Exeter St. Davids station handled 2.620 million passengers on its six platforms or 0.44 million per platform per year.
  • Gatwick Airport station handled 21.225 million passengers on its seven platforms or 3.03 million per platform per year.
  • Leeds station handled 30.839 million passengers on its seventeen train platforms or 1.81 million per platform per year.
  • Leicester station handled 5.582 million passengers on its four platforms or 1.40 million per platform per year.
  • Liverpool Lime Street station handled 14.221 million passengers on its eleven platforms or 1.29 million per platform per year.
  • London Bridge station handled 61.308 million passengers on its fifteen platforms or 4.08 million per platform per year.
  • London Fenchurch Street station handled 18.508 million passengers on its four platforms or 4.63 million per platform per year.
  • London Paddington station handled 38.18 million passengers on its thirteen platforms or 2,94 million per platform per year.
  • Manchester Oxford Road station handled 9.338 million passengers on its five platforms or 1.87 million per platform per year.
  • Manchester Piccadilly station handled 30.252 million passengers on its fourteen platforms and two tram platforms or 1.89 million per platform per year.
  • Manchester Victoria station handled 8.950 million passengers on its eight platforms or 1.12 million per platform per year.
  • Newcastle station handled 8,914 million passengers on its twelve platforms or 0.74 million per platform per year.
  • Nottingham station handled 8.005 million passengers on its nine platforms or 0.89 million per platform per year.
  • Peterborough station handled 5.060 million passengers on its seven platforms or 0.72 million per platform per year.
  • Preston station handled 4.646 million passengers on its nine platforms or 0.52 million per platform per year.
  • Reading station handled 17.081 million passengers on its fifteen platforms or 1.14 million per platform per year.
  • York station handled 9.991 million passengers on its eleven platforms or 0.90 million per platform per year.

These figures have given rise to a few thoughts.

Brighton

Brighton station is an eight platform terminal station, that handles a lot of passengers, considering that the City doesn’t have any mass transit system and passengers rely on walking, bicycles, buses and private cars for onward travel.

  • There are upwards of eight trains per hour (tph) at the station to and from London, all of which can be up to twelve cars.
  • The West Coastway and East Coastway Lines have at least six tph in the Off Peak.
  • Arriving passengers can walk straight through the wide gate line and out to walking routes and the buses, with leaving passengers walking the other way.

I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Brighton station is at capacity.

Chelmsford

It is truly remarkable that Chelmsford station is the second busiest station in terms of passengers per platform per year on my list.

  • The station has two separate platforms on either side of the tracks.
  • Access is via wide stairs and lifts.
  • The station appears to handle five tph in both directions in the Off Peak, with up to twice that number in the Peak.
  • Most trains calling at the station are between eight and twelve cars.
  • Chelmsford station could get even busier in terms of passengers when the new longer Class 720 trains and Class 745 trains are brought into service in the next twelve months, as these trains have higher capacities, than the current trains.
  • It is aimed, that the new trains though will have level access between train and platform, at some point in the future.

I very much feel, that Chelmsford shows what can be done at an ordinary two platform station with the application of good simple design.

London Fenchurch Street

London Fenchurch Street is the busiest station on my list.

  • The limited number of platforms will increase the number of passengers per platform per year.
  • The station has two entrances to each platform.
  • Arriving passengers can walk straight through the wide gate line at the main entrance and down escalators to walking routes at street level, with leaving passengers walking the other way.
  • Many trains in the Peak are twelve cars.
  • Adding extra platforms would be difficult.

It does appear, that work has been done to maximise the station’s capacity.

Crewe, Doncaster, Exeter St. Davids, Newcastle, Peterborough, Preston and York

All these stations are interchange stations on the main lines, that may have been improved, but have not been substantially rebuilt.

They all manage to handle between 0.5 million and 1 million passengers per platform per year.

Leeds

Leeds station has been improved over the last few years.

  • There are six through platforms and eleven where trains can terminate.
  • After passing through the gate line, passengers are in a concourse from where long distance services to London and the North and local services to Bradford, Harrogate, Ilkley and Skipton can be boarded.
  • A new wide bridge with escalators, a lift and steps leads from this concourse across the through lines and platforms to the other side of the station.
  • There are lifts and escalators from the bridge to some of the through platforms and the terminating platforms beyond them.
  • At the far side of the bridge, a new Southern entrance has been added.

<The bridge works well and shows how a wide bridge over or a wide concourse under the tracks, can improve circulation in a station.

If you compare the bridge at Leeds, with the bridge at Reading, which was designed at around the same time, the Reading one is better in that it is wider and has more escalators, with one up and one down escalator to each pair of platforms.

Was a certain amount of design at Leeds station performed by accountants?

London Bridge

London Bridge station shows what can be done by applying good design in a new or rebuilt station.

  • There are nine through and six terminal platforms.
  • All platforms can take full-length twelve-car trains.
  • There is a massive concourse underneath all fifteen platforms.
  • There are lots of escalators and lifts between the concourse and the platforms.
  • Steps provide additional and reserve capacity.
  • Passengers changing between routes can take an escalator or lift to the concourse and another one to their new route.
  • Arriving passengers can walk straight through the wide gate lines and out to walking routes, the Underground and the buses, with leaving passengers walking the other way.
  • London Bridge station was designed by Grimshaw Architects

It is a design with a wow factor that works very well.

Reading

Reading station is another good design applied to a rebuilt station.

  • There are nine through platforms,  three East-facing bay platforms and three West-facing bay platforms.
  • All through platforms can take full-length trains.
  • All bay platforms are a level walk from the Southernmost through platform and the main entrance gate line to the station.
  • There is a massive bridge over all nine through platforms.
  • There are lots of escalators and lifts between the bridge and the through platforms.
  • Steps provide additional and reserve capacity.
  • Passengers changing between routes can take an escalator or lift to the bridge and another one to their new route.
  • Arriving passengers can walk straight through the wide gate lines and out to walking routes, the car-parks and the buses, with leaving passengers walking the other way.
  • Reading station was designed by Grimshaw architects.

It is a design with a wow factor that works very well.

Redesigning Manchester Piccadilly

Could some of the principles of these stations be applied to rebuilding Manchester Piccadilly station?

There are currently twelve terminal platforms numbered 1-12 in the main part of the station.

  • Platforms 1 to 4 are used for services to Marple, New Mills, Rose Hill and Sheffield via the Hope Valley Line, and services on the Glossop Line.
  • Platforms 5 to 9 are the longest and used by Avanti West Coast and CrossCountry services.
  • Platforms 10 to 12 are shorter than the others and are usually used to accommodate local trains to Crewe and Manchester Airport, plus Mid-Cheshire line, Buxton Line and South Wales services.

The two through platforms 13 and 14 are on the Southern side of the station.

These ideas might be possible.

A Wide Bridge Or Concourse Connecting The Platforms At The London End

Currently, there is a bridge over the platforms 1 to 12 at the London end, but compared to the bridges at Leeds or Reading stations, it is a rather feeble affair.

  • It is narrow.
  • It doesn’t have any kiosks or shops.
  • It is only connected to the platforms by steps.

Could this be replaced by a wide bridge, like say the one at Reading?

It would certainly give advantages if it could!

  • Passengers arriving in Manchester Piccadilly needing to change to another service, might find it more convenient to use the bridge, rather than exit on to the main concourse.
  • The bridge could be designed as a waiting area, with kiosks, shops, cafes and other facilities.
  • The bridge would be connected to all platforms by escalators and lifts.
  • Steps would provide additional and reserve capacity.

Note that if you buy a ticket to Manchester stations, that allows you to go to either Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Deansgate or Manchester Victoria stations, So a quick route up and down an escalator at the London end of Piccadilly station to Platform 14 would be very convenient.

Access To Platforms 13 And 14

Compared to the wide island platforms at Leeds and Reading, platform 13 and 14 are a bit narrow, but I’m fairly sure, that a good layout for escalators and lifts could be designed, so that access to these two platforms can be improved.

Trains Through Platforms 13 and 14

These must be arranged, so that they are all similar with wide double doors and step-free access between platform and train.

Improvement Along The Castlefield Corridor

Various improvements need to be done on the Castlefield Corridor.

  • Deansgate can be improved to provide better access to the Metrolink at Castlefield.
  • Manchester Oxford Road station needs a complete rebuilt and a better track layout.
  • The Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport service via Warrington and Manchester Oxford Road needs a strong rethink.

It appears that it has already been decided to reduce the number of trains, as I wrote about in Castlefield Corridor Trade-Off Plan For Fewer Trains.

Wide Gate Lines

Passengers arriving at Manchester Piccadilly station in the main part of the station should be able to walk forward to a gate line stretching right across all the platforms.

  • The present gate line isn’t continuous.
  • There is still a lot of manual checking of tickets.

The current layout can certainly be improved.

Access To Metrolink

I also wonder if better access to the Metrolink could be provided, so that passengers access the Metrolink station from inside the gate line. Now that the Metrolink allows contactless ticketing, this might be easier.

Conclusion

I believe there’s a solution in there somewhere!

March 21, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Grenfell Tower Fire: ‘Systemic Failures’ In Fire Brigade’s Response

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) has been condemned for “serious shortcomings” and systemic failures in its response to the Grenfell Tower fire, in a report into the 2017 blaze.

I am particularly worried about the stay-put policy.

In the 1950s, I was a member of the Scouts and several times we did exercises with them, where we were taught how to get out of blazing buildings. We were also used as dummy causalities in major incident training.

Certainly, the advice then for a fire was to get out.

Around 1970, I worked on chemical plants for ICI and fire safety was taken very seriously.

I remember being told to know your escape route from where you were working. And get out fast, if anything happened. Not that it did!

One other thing I remember is on the Wilton site, seeing office windows with “Perspex Window – Fine Hazard” stencilled on them.  The resaon for this, was that a nearby polythene plant very occasionally caused spectacular arial explosions and glass windows were just too dangerous, as when shattered, they covered those inside with shatds of glass. If you read the story of the Summerland Disaster in August 1973, which killed fifty people.

Wikipedia says this about the building.

The street frontage and part of the roof was clad in Oroglas, a transparent acrylic glass sheeting.

Oroglas is a poly(methyl methacrylate) and is another tradename for the same plastic, which ICI called Perspex.

I’d left ICI, by the time of the Summerland Disaster, but I was still in contact with friends, who worked in Plastics Division, who were responsible for Perspex. One was very critical of the use of Oroglas in the building.

I should also say, that I have lived in a tower block with my family.

From my knowledge, I would not have lived in a building with flammable cladding.

Cromwell Tower in the Barbican is clad in concrete, with a network of tunnels going a couple of floors down from each flat on the thirty-five floors.

After the Grenfell Tower fire, I felt that architects and lawmakers have completely ignored the lessons of history!

Conclusion

There is a need to make sure that we take on board all the lessons of Grenfell, so that the chance of another disaster are minimised.

 

 

 

October 29, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

The New White Hart Lane Station Opens

The new White Hart Lane station opened on Monday and I went along this morning and took these pictures.

Some points about the design.

  • The station has three entrances on the stadium side and two on the other.
  • Materials used include terracotta pots and weathered steel.
  • There is a pedestrian tunnel under the railway for those that don’t want to use the trains.
  • There are two sets of stairs to both platforms
  • There are lifts to both platforms.
  • The station can probably handle twelve-car Class 710 trains if required on match days.
  • There are solar panels on the roof.
  • The station  must have some of the tallest overhead electrification gantries in the UK.

From what one of the project managers told me, it appears that the station was built by cleaning, refurbishing and strengthening the viaduct and then erecting an independent steel frame on either side to form the station.

It looks like a technique that could be used on other stations on viaducts.

It’s certainly a better station with a larger capacity, than the previous one, that I used many times back in the 1960s.

The old station is to be demolished, at some point in the future.

Conclusion

It is an excellent station, that should serve its main function of getting supporters to and from Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium.

But will the station and the soon-to-arrive new trains have other effects.

  • As I said earlier, the design could be repeated with different cladding for other stations on viaducts.
  • I believe that good public transport infrastructure tends to calm crime and anti-social behaviour. Only the statistics will give a verdict.
  • Will the passenger numbers rise through the station?
  • Will the station and the stadium attract some better class retain premises and cafes, as the Emirates has done?

And perhaps most importantly! Tottenham Hotspur now has two new stations to serve the ground! Will this reduce the congestion caused by large crowds?

 

August 28, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

A Design Crime At West Hampstead Thameslink Station

I almost laughed, when I saw this extension.

It’s the sort of building put up on industrial sites, where planning rules don’t apply.

July 31, 2019 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

West Hampstead Station – 29th July 2019

West Hampstead station opened almost fully to the public yesterday.

The only things, that need finishing are the lifts and some small works.

The new station building has an almost 1930s feel about it as if it is inspired by some of the classic stations like Oakwood.

I do like the ziggurat-style steps to the overbridge. This has allowed a wide staircase, that is frilly-shielded from heavy weather, at a busy interchange station

July 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Nothing Seems To Be Happening At Syon Lane Station

I passed through Syon Lane station today and thought I’d have a look at the progress on the step-free access to the station.

This page on the South Western Railway web site describes in detail, the works that will be done.

This is the first paragraph.

From the beginning of April, we’ll be building a new accessible footbridge with a lift at Syon Lane. The project is expected to be completed later this year and is mainly funded by Hounslow Council. Making the station step free will be a real positive for people with limited mobility traveling round the Hounslow Loop, however the delivery of the new bridge will affect the station and the platforms. The station will remain operational throughout the works, but there will be some access changes during the project delivery:

Consider  the bit about being finished later this year, then look at these pictures.

It looks like they’ve all packed up and gone home.

Surely, if the bridge is going to be finished this year, workmen should be hard at work building foundations and putting up towers for lifts.

But even the tea-hut has gone.

It appears that the following has been done at the station.

  • Create a level step-free route from Syon Lane to the London-bound platform.
  • Move the ticket machines and the card readers.
  • Run temporary cable ducts, along the back of the platforms.
  • Clear some ground behind the fence, where the lift towers might be placed.
  • The long platforms have been narrowed, which Network Rail say is to give space for the work.

The 3D Google Map shows the station.

I don’t know when the picture was taken, but it does look that there could have been some ground clearing about halfway along the platform.

What Do I Think Is Happening?

I think, there could be these reasons for the lack of action.

  • The project has been delayed for some reason.
  • Something very different is happening at Syon Lane station!

Speaking to a couple of travellers  at the station today, they had heard nothing and one was looking forward to the bridge.

I have no evidence, but I do have a devious and sometimes theatrical mind.

Are Network Rail conducting an experiment on the good people, who use Syon Lane station?

They have only said this about disruption to passengers.

The station will remain operational throughout the works, but there will be some access changes during the project delivery:

Could Network Rail be bringing in the bridge in a few sections and just lifting them in with a crane?

Look at the 3D Google Map above and note that the station in surrounded by houses and lots of leafy trees, which would make getting bridge sections and the crane into place difficult.

But look at the cross-section of the average footbridge tower or bridge and it is about the same as that of a train.

For this reason, I believe that the bridge components will be brought in on a special train with a large crane.

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

It is composed of the following major components.

  • Two towers with lifts.
  • Two sets of stairs
  • A bridge deck.

All components would be built in a factory.

  • They would be fully tested before delivery.
  • The components would be delivered by train.
  • The bridge would then be assembled using a rail mounted crane.

After testing, the Mayor could declare the bridge open

I suspect too, that the only preparation prior to the assembly of the bridge, is to have firm concrete bases for the bridge and a power supply for the lifts.

  • The construction of the bases could be done from the railway, so there would be no problems of bringing in the concrete.
  • The power supply might not even be needed, if the bridge had solar panels on the roof and a clear battery system.
  • It’s all a bit like giant Lego construction, but then the architect of the bridge was Danish!

Could  commuters on a Friday night return to a station little different to the one they’ve known for years and then on Monday morning  find a working step-free bridge has been erected?

Engineering is the sconce of the possible, whereas politics is dreams of the impossible!

Is This The Future Of Step-Free Bridges?

Obviously not all, but I believe that up to a third of all stations that need a step-free bridge can use a bridge of this type.

But the station upgrade to step-free application is just one of several.

  • New stations.
  • Step-free bridges over busy roads, rivers or canals.
  • Replacement of dangerous light-controlled road crossings.

The design could also be incorporated into other buildings.

Conclusion

Something different could be happening at Syon Lane station.

June 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is This One Of The Best Platform Access Routes In Europe?

I have been to some large and grand stations in Europe like Amsterdam Centraal, Berlin Hbf, Leizig Hbf and Milan Centrale.

But I have yet to visit a station, where a subsidiary group of platforms have such a spectacular two-level approach.

I took these pictures as I walked from the main concourse to the underground gates, leading to the escalators, that take passengers to and from the middle of the platforms.

It should be noted, that the concourse ends of the platforms can also be accessed using a bridge from the concourse. This bridge can be seen over the orchestra pit.

This wide tunnel has been designed to handle just five platforms 20-24.

This article on Rail Engineer is entitled New Platforms At London Waterloo.

The articles states these facts and objectives.

  • The platforms will be shortened by a hundred metres.
  • Each platform will be able to handle a twelve-car train.

South Western Railway‘s new ten-car Class 701 trains have a capacity of 600 passengers.

As the platforms will handle twenty tph,, this means that a total of 12,000 passengers could arrive in every peak hour, but with two gate-lines on separate levels and various routes to either the Underground or walking out of the station, it appears to be designed to cope.

The access would even cope if because of some important event there was a substantial amount of travellers going the opposite way to the commuters.

In the future, the arrangement would mean that each platform could be divided into two; 20A and 20B etc.

  • Passengers for the far train could use both routes, but would probably use the tunnel.
  • Passengers for the near train, would probably use the bridge.

Busby Berkeley has been hired to get the choreography right.

Conclusion

Very large traveller flows have met their Waterloo.

May 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment

Hanwell Station – 19th April 2019

These pictures show Hanwell station.

Hanwell station will be unlike any other station on Crossrail.

  • It is Grade II Listed.
  • It doesn’t have a high passenger usage.
  • Platforms will be too short for the Class 345 trains and selected door opening will be used.
  • The stairs up to the platforms must be some of the most Victorian in any station.
  • To complete the station, two lifts are to be installed on the Crossrail platforms.

I do wonder if it could become a tourist attraction for those interests in modern metros and Victorian architecture.

Crossrail To Reading In December 2019

As current rumours are that Crossrail will open in December to Reading, it looks like the station will be ready in all its Victorian splendour..

It is planned that Hanwell station will have a train every ten minutes.

April 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Luton Station To Go Step-Free

This document on the Government web site is entitled Access for All: 73 Stations Set To Benefit From Additional Funding.

Luton station is on the list.

These pictures show the station.

Without doubt, this is the worst station, I’ve found so far in an important town, that is to be made step-free.

There is nothing of any architectural merit at all in this station.

Will Abellio East Midlands Railway Improve Their Service To Luton?

Currently, Luton station has the following.

  • Full electrification, which is being upgraded to a high standard for 125 mph running.
  • Platforms long enough to accommodate Thameslink’s 242 metre long twelve-car Class 700 trains.
  • The Class 700 trains are already fitted for working with digital signalling and this will be added to all trains.

It certainly treats trains better than it does passengers.

From December 2020, the following trains will run through Luton station.

  • Two trains per hour (tph) to/from Corby, which will be 240 metre long twelve-car electric trains in the Peak. Why not in the Off Peak?
  • Two tph to/from Leicester and Nottingham
  • Two tph to/from Leicester, Derby, Chesterfield and Sheffield

At the present time, only the single Corby service stops at Luton.

From 2022, East Midlands Railway will be running new bi-mode trains through the station.

  • For compatibility with the electric trains to Corby and to make full use of long platforms, I suspect that these trains could be up to 240 metres long.
  • They will have a larger capacity, than the current Class 222 trains.
  • They will effectively be electric trains between London and Market Harborough, where the electrification ends.
  • They will have fast acceleration and smooth regenerative braking, because of the electric power.
  • They could have step-across access between train and platform.

As Luton station is electrified and has long platforms, these trains will be able to stop at Luton (and Luton Airport Parkway) in minutes.

Network Rail intend to make Luton station step-free by 2024.

The improved access will give easier connections between the expresses and Thameslink, and entry/exit to the station.

I can see several trains per hour stopping at Luton.

Conclusion

If money was no object, this station should be totally rebuilt.

But money is an object, so the architects will be struggling.

But by 2024 at the latest and possibly a couple of years earlier Luton station could be sorted for passengers and handling well upwards of a dozen 240 metre long high capacity trains in every hour.

April 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Battersea Park Station To Go Step-Free

This document on the Government web site is entitled Access for All: 73 Stations Set To Benefit From Additional Funding.

Battersea Park station is on the list.

These pictures show the station.

This 3D Google Map shows the station.

It’s a bit different to the average commuter station.

Installing Step-Free Access

This will be a challenging station to install step-free access.

  • The station is Grade II Listed.
  • There are four platforms
  • Platform 2/3 is reasonably wide, but Platform 4/5 is narrow.
  • The station handles ten trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  • In 2017-18, the station handled nearly two million passengers.
  • The station will have an out-of-station interchange with the new Battersea Power Station station, when that station opens.

As the pictures show, the entrance hall has been tastefully restored in the last few years.

Surely, only a masochist would work on installing lifts in this station.

April 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment