The Anonymous Widower

Huge Step Taken As Greater Manchester Takes Over First Rail Station

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Today (1 Feb) marks a significant moment for Manchester’s long-term vision for rail as Transport for Greater Manchester takes over operation of Horwich Parkway Station.

These are some pictures of the station.

Horwich Parkway station is a fairly typical parkway station, that is also a destination in its own right, as Bolton Wanderers stadium, a shopping centre, a very much bog-standard Premier Inn and a University campus are nearby.

Services At Horwich Parkway Station

Currently, these services call at the station.

  • Hazel Grove and Blackpool North
  • Manchester Airport and Blackpool North
  • Manchester Victoria and Preston

Note.

  1. All services are electric and run by Northern.
  2. All services are one train per hour (tph)

Some TransPennine Services also pass through on their way between Manchester Airport and Scotland.

My Thoughts

These are a few thoughts.

Local Authority Or Remote Management?

I like the concept of stations being managed by local authorities.

When I moved back to London from Suffolk nearly a dozen years ago, the stations in North East and East London were managed by Greater Anglia from Norwich.

  • Many of these stations were very shabby.
  • Many of these stations have now been taken over by Transport for London.
  • Stations are now managed by either the London Overground or Tfl Rail.
  • Stations seem to have improved and they are in many cases, a lot cleaner.

Perhaps, the shorter communication links to Senior Management mean, that problems get solved. Or does the local councillor know the right person to kick?

Hopefully, we’ll see a more efficient station at Horwich Parkway.

Facilities

Consider.

  • There are ramps to the footbridge.
  • There is a booking office.
  • Previously, this station was managed by Northern

It is one of those stations that on a cold winter’s day can be a bit bleak.

Hopefully, Transport for Greater Manchester will be improving the station.

Four Trains Per Hour?

Birmingham, Liverpool and London seem to like the concept of Turn-Up-And-Go stations with a frequency of four tph.

Would Horwich Parkway station  benefit from this frequency?

Two Trains Per Hour To And From Manchester Airport?

This may be beneficial,

Perhaps some of the TransPennine Express service between the Airport and Scotland could call?

Certainly, a sort out of train services at Horwich Parkway, led by Transport for Greater Manchester could be beneficial for passengers and train operating companies.

Conclusion

I shall be interested to see, if the station is improved.

 

February 3, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Slow Progress On Manchester-Preston Electrification

These pictures show the current state of the electrification of the Manchester-Preston Line at Bolton and Horwich Parkway stations.

It is a sad sight, that I have seen repeated all over England, where electrification is being installed.

As on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line progress has been slow. Except that this scheme is much slower.

It also appears that something like this is happening on electrification.

  1. A team come along and install the foundations for the gantries.
  2. Then everybody takes a long break, whilst it is worked out how to install the foundations that couldn’t be installed or had just been forgotten.
  3. A team then comes along and puts up the gantries.
  4. Then everybody takes a long break, whilst they chase up the gntries that don’t fit or haven’t been delivered.
  5. A team then comes along and decorates the gantries with the various fitments for the overhead wires.
  6. Then everybody takes a long break, whilst they chase up the faults needed to be fixed before the wires to go up.
  7. Finally, the wires are installed.

Only now,the testing can begin!

On the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, they’ve finally got all the way to Stage 7, but it has meant two major closures of the line.

On the Manchester-Preston Line, they’re still blundering around in Stage 1.

Years ago, I used to work with the Greater London Council on various projects. The Head of the Construction Branch told me, to beware of sub-contractors, who had  their fingers in lots of projects, as it inevitably led to all projects being late.

Could it be, that the electrification woes all over the UK, is that there aren’t enough competent engineers and fitters to design and erect the overhead gantries?

As the Manchester to Preston electrification was being carried out by Carillion, that wouldn’t have helped either! This probably explains the very slow progress on this project.

The competent staff are going, where they know they’ll get paid.

Network Rail’s chronic Project Management and forward planning hasn’t helped either. Crossrail has highlighted the poor state of the wires on the Great Eastern Main Line and with all the new trains due to thunder along the line in a few years time, they seem to have decided to replace all the unreliable wiring in East Anglia.

About time too!

But, this job should have been planned, resourced and carried out earlier.

So all the competent engineers and fitters are flocking to better jobs!

Conclusion

Network Rail needs to do the following.

  • Have access to a competent team of engineers and fitters, either in-house or with a reliable engineering firm.
  • Create a plan of new electrification and renewals for the next few years.
  • Stick to it.

But politicians will not allow this!

It should be noted that if the train companies use more bi-mode, hydrogen and battery-powered trains, this will increase the need for small electrification schemes to allow the new trains to run efficiently.

Hopefully, these small schemes will be of vaguely similar natures, so installation won’t be the large scale farces, we’ve seen in recent years.

 

 

 

January 22, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Are The Electrification Gantries Going In The Middle At Horwich Parkway Station?

Traditionally, when a line is electrified in the UK, either a gantry or a wire is put over all the lines and supported on both sides of the track.

So I was surprised to see these circular structures between the tracks at Horwich Parkway station.

I thought at first, that they were drainage access points, but Network Rail’s are usually rectangular and often covered with a blue grating during construction.

I suspect that the substantial road bridge and possibly the footbridge will be used as supports for the overhead lines, so it would mean that if a substantial gantry was placed at the Northern end of the station, a few central masts would probably give enough support to the catenary, as it passed through the station.

It is possibly significant that there is no circular structure under the footbridge, despite being about the right place in a sequence of structures. If they were to do with drainage, you would still need drainage under the bridge, but if they are for electrification, then the footbridge could be used for support of the overhead wires.

This is a Google Map of the station, with the ends of the platforms in the South East corner.

Horwich Parkway Station

Horwich Parkway Station

Note the five pairs of white spots along the line, one pair of which is in the shadow of the footbridge.

If you can’t see them click the image and show it in your browser.

Could the white dots be concrete piles for the electrification? As I left Horwich Parkway station, I noticed some piles to the South of the station and they were uncovered, showing white concrete.

Just in front of the train in the station, it is possible to see another white dot between the tracks. A circular structure is also visible in the pictures of the station.

It would also appear that one set of foundations are missing between the single dot and the pairs along the line. Could this be, because a substantial gantry is being erected here, to support the catenary at the Northern end of the station?

So it would appear that masts could be used in the centre at Horwich Parkway station, but after An Hour In Farnworth, I am rather dubious that a similar technique could be used at Farnworth station.

March 9, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment