The Anonymous Widower

Northern Powerhouse Rail – A New Line Between Liverpool And Manchester Via The Centre Of Warrington

In this article on Transport for the North, which is entitled Northern Powerhouse Rail Progress As Recommendations Made To Government, one of the recommendations proposed for Northern Powerhouse Rail is a new rail line between Liverpool and Manchester via the centre of Warrington.

I shall look at a few of the possibilities for various sections of the line starting at the Manchester end.

High Speed Two And Northern Powerhouse Rail Between Warrington/Lymm And Manchester Airport

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the route of High Speed Two in the area between Lymm and Manchester Airport.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two is shown in orange
  2. The blue dot is Manchester Interchange station at Manchester Airport.
  3. High Speed Two goes North to Wigan North Western station.
  4. High Speed Two goes South to Crewe station.
  5. High Speed Two goes East to Manchester and the East.
  6. The East-West Motorway is the M56 with Junction 7/8 in the middle of the map and Junction 9 with the M6, at the Western edge of the map.

This enlarged map shows High Speed Two between Manchester Airport and Junction 7/8 of the M56.

 

The colours of High Speed Two indicate the type of construction.

  • Black is a bored tunnel. Only in the North East corner, where it continues to Manchester.
  • Brown is a track between retaining walls. Used through Manchester Interchange or Airport station.
  • Red is a viaduct.
  • Yellow is a cutting.

This Google Map shows a similar area.

High Speed Two’s tracks will be on the South side of the Motorway and will be shared with Northern Powerhouse Rail.

  • There is likely to be up to twelve trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  • I would think, that with modern signalling that the trains would be running at 140 mph or more.
  • Between Manchester Airport and Warrington could be a line as between St. Pancras and Ebbsfleet on High Speed One.

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the M56 and High Speed Two around Junction 7/8 of the M56.

The colours are as before.

  • The obvious way to build a new rail line between Manchester and Warrington, would surely be to create a rail junction just South of the Motorway junction.
  • A line to Warrington could run along the South side of the Motorway.
  • I also believe that there should be a connection between the High Speed Two lines to Manchester and Wigan North Western, to allow high speed services between Manchester and Barrow, Blackpool, Preston, Windermere and Scotland.

Building the rail junctions around the Motorway junctions would be a good idea for environmental and visual reasons.

Northern Powerhouse Rail would then continue to Junction 9 of the M56 Motorway.

This Google Map, shows the M56 around Junction 9 with the M6.

Note.

  1. The M56 running East-West.
  2. The M6 running North-South.
  3. Lymm services to the North-West of the junction.
  4. Lymm is to the North-East and Warrington is to the North-West of the junction.

Would it be possible for to run South of the M56 and then turn North to run along the Western side of the M6 towards Warrington?

I very much feel, that with modern 3D software, an engineer with expertise in extreme knitting could thread a double-track line through to take a North-Western route towards Warrington.

The Bridge Across The Mersey

If you look at maps of the area, there is a big problem of water between Junction 9 of the M56 and Warrington town centre, with its two stations of Warrington Bank Quay and Warrington Central, both of which have services to Liverpool Lime Street station.

The problem is the Manchester Ship Canal.

I then noticed a bridge to the South East of the town centre, which is shown in this Google Map.

It may look like it has got more than a touch of the dreaded iron moths, but it certainly looks like it was once a double track rail line.

The bridge was on the Warrington and Altrincham Junction Railway, which did what you would expect from the name.

This Google Map shows the track of the railway either side of the bridge.

Note the bridge in the centre of the map and the green scar of the former railway running East-West across the map.

To the East the green scar of the railway can be picked out all the way to M6.

Note.

  1. The bridge is at the West over the Manchester Ship Canal.
  2. The green scar of the Warrington and Altrincham Junction Railway can be followed all the way to the M6,
  3. I think the track is now a footpath, as it is marked on the map with a dotted white line.

I would be interested to know, if it could take a modern double track railway.

This Google Map shows an enlarged view of where the green scar of the Warrington and Altrincham Junction Railway goes under the M6.

Note the dotted white line marking the railway, towards the top of the map.

Would it be possible to design a track layout, where Northern Powerhouse Rail came up the Western side of the M6 and was able to connect to Warrington?

I certainly believe it’s a possibility.

Warrington Bank Quay Station

To the West of the bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal, the Warrington and Altrincham Junction Railway ran through low-level platforms at Warrington Bank Quay station.

This Google Map shows Warrington Bank Quay station.

This picture shows a freight train passing under Warrington Bank Quay station.

Note.

  1. There are four North-South platforms on the West Coast Main Line.
  2. The Warrington and Altrincham Junction Railway passes East-West under the four main platforms.
  3. Low levels platforms used to handle passengers on the East-West lines.
  4. I was looking to the East in the picture.
  5. The tracks continue to the West on the route of the former St. Helens Railway, which is now a freight route.
  6. The map shows the tracks curving sharply round one of the meanders of the River Mersey.

Warrington Bank Quay station is on a congested and tight site, but by using some of the spare railway land, I feel it could rebuilt to be an excellent station for Warrington.

Warrington Bank Quay Station As An Interchange

Warrington Bank Quay station could be an excellent and efficient interchange between High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

There are also local services from the station, which could be useful for some travellers.

Between Warrington Bank Quay Station And Widnes

This Google Map shows the Mersey estuary between Warrington Bank Quay station and Widnes.

Note.

  1. Warrington is in the North-East corner of the map, with Warrington Bank Quay station shown by a red station symbol.
  2. The new Mersey Gateway bridge is in the South-West corner of the map.
  3. The River Mersey meanders between the bridge and Warrington.
  4. Fiddlers Ferry power station can be picked out in the nearest meander of the Mersey to the bridge.
  5. The dark straight line below the river is the Manchester Ship Canal.
  6. There is currently a freight line on the North bank of the river.

This Google Map shows Fiddlers Ferry power station, with the railway between the now-decommissioned power station and the River Mersey.

Note.

  1. Fiddlers Ferry will become an employment site.
  2. It could even be a good place for a depot for Northern Powerhouse Rail.
  3. I think there’s scope to increase the operating speed of the railway along the Mersey.

Could it even be an electrified high speed line with a 125 mph operating speed?

Between Widnes And Liverpool Lime Street

The trains coming from Warrington could join the Liverpool Branch of the West Coast Main Line at Ditton East Junction.

The route between Ditton East Junction and Liverpool Lime Street has the following characteristics.

  • It has four tracks.
  • It is 10.6 miles long.
  • Avanti West Coast’s expresses typically take twelve minutes for the trip without stopping.
  • The stations on the route; Liverpool South Parkway; West Allerton, Mossley Hill and Edge Hill, all have one platform per line.
  • It is fully electrified.
  • Lime Street station has recently been updated with longer platforms and a higher capacity approach to the station.
  • Some local services have already been moved to Merseyrail’s Northern Line.
  • Stopping services on the route have their own platforms.

I believe that with the installation of full digital signalling and a degree of automatic train control, as far as Crewe and Warrington Bank Quay stations, that the following services could be handled.

  • Six tph – Northern Powerhouse Rail – Liverpool and Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly
  • One tph – East Midlands Railway – Liverpool and Nottingham
  • Three tph – High Speed Two – Liverpool and London Euston
  • One tph – High Speed Two – Liverpool and Birmingham Curzon Street
  • Two tph – London North Western – Liverpool and Birmingham and London Euston

Note.

  1. This is only 13 tph.
  2. Avanti West Coast services would be replaced by High Speed Two.
  3. TransPennine Express services would be replaced by Northern Powerhouse Rail
  4. The Liverpool and Nottingham service may or may not go via Ditton East junction.

If the capacity on this branch could be raised to 15 tph, that would be only be a train every four minutes, or half the frequency, that will eventually be operational on Crossrail and Thameslink. It would also be less than the 18 tph frequency of High Speed Two.

Conclusion

This simple exercise has proven to me, that a high speed line could be built between Manchester Airport and Liverpool Lime Street station.

  • Several sections of the route could have an operating speed of 125 mph or more.
  • By running the tracks along the M56 and M6, visual and aural intrusion could be minimised.
  • The line along the Mersey through Warrington could be a valuable part of the route.
  • West of Warrington, much of the infrastructure needed, appears to be in place and it would only need to be upgraded.

There was a large and extremely pleasant surprise at the Liverpool end.

The approach to Liverpool Lime Street is two fast and two slow lines, and I believe, that this section of the route could handle up to say 15 fast trains and six stopping trains per hour, with full digital signalling.

Unlike London and Manchester, I doubt that Liverpool will need a tunnel to access the City Centre.

I also believe that after its refurbishment of the last couple of years, Lime Street could be substantially ready for High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

 

 

November 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Northern Powerhouse Rail Progress As Recommendations Made To Government

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Transport for the North.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Northern leaders have agreed an initial preferred way forward for a new railway network that will transform the region’s economy.

And these are the rail improvements proposed.

  • A new line to be constructed from Liverpool to Manchester via the centre of Warrington
  • A new line to be constructed from Manchester to Leeds via the centre of Bradford
  • Significant upgrades and journey time improvements to the Hope Valley route between Manchester and Sheffield
  • Connecting Sheffield to HS2 and on to Leeds
  • Significant upgrades and electrification of the rail lines from Leeds and Sheffield to Hull
  • Significant upgrades of the East Coast Mainline from Leeds to Newcastle (via York and Darlington) and restoration of the Leamside line

No more detail is given, but the list is followed by this paragraph.

The move comes ahead of the much-anticipated publication of a new report that will set out long-term investment plans for rail upgrades in the North. The Government’s Integrated Rail Plan – due to be published by the end of this year – is expected to recommend how investment in rail projects like Northern Powerhouse Rail, HS2 Phase 2b, and the TransPennine Route Upgrade (a separate project) will be delivered.

I am waiting for the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan with interest.

November 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Boost for Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle Area As A Further £1.5m Invested By Combined Authority In New Railway Station Scheme

The title of this post, is the same as that of this story on the Liverpool City Region web site.

These three opening paragraphs give most of the details of the story.

Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle area has been given a big boost as plans to build a new station have moved to the next stage thanks to a £1.5m investment by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has pledged to build a new station on the site of the former St James station, which closed in 1917, which would be located in one of the fastest growing areas of the city, near to the former Cains Brewery.

Those proposals for the station on the Merseyrail network are a step closer thanks to two new developments – an agreement with Network Rail, worth £1.2m, to start the next stage of the design process, and the purchase of a plot of land adjacent to the railway cutting off Stanhope Street for £300k, protecting a potential future site for the new station ticket office building.

As Liverpool St. James station, closed over a hundred years ago, this must be one of the longest times to reopen a station, anywhere in the world.

This Google Map shows the location of the proposed station.

Note.

  1. The deep dark cutting going under the major road junction, where Upper Parliament Street and the A571 cross.
  2. The square of roads formed mainly by Ashwell Street, with Stanhope Street in the South, above the cutting.
  3. Contained in the cutting is Merseyrail’s Northern Line on which the station will be built.
  4. I also suspect, that the triangular plot of land on the East side of the tracks, is the one mentioned in the extract. It could easily be the place for a ticket office with lifts to the platforms.

Only Liverpudlians would choose to build a station at the bottom of a deep hole.

But then they don’t think like others!

I have a few thoughts and questions.

Will It Be Dark On The Platforms?

This was one of my first thoughts, as there’s nothing worse than a dark station. I also wonder, if one of the reasons the station closed was lack of passengers caused by the darkness.

This picture taken from the story, shows the cutting from the bottom.

Note.

  • Aligning this picture with the map, Liverpool Central is behind us and Hunts Cross is through the tunnel.
  • Perhaps on a good day more light gets into the cutting.

I suspect that modern lighting on the platforms could solve the problem.

It appears that the station opened in 1874 and closed in 1917, but the lines through the station were not electrified until 1983.

So as the station must have been served by steam-hauled trains, during its brief opening at the turn of the Nineteenth Century, it must have had a terrible atmosphere on the platforms.

Hopefully, the only smell, that will emanate from the new Class 777 trains, will be one of newness.

What Is On The Triangular Plot?

This Google Map shows the triangular plot of land, that could be used for the ticket office.

Note.

  1. It looks very much to be a builder’s yard or a store for building materials, as I can definitely make out packs of bricks and bags of aggregate.
  2. As there appears to be a steel staircase down to the tracks at the top of the image, it might even be something to do with Network Rail.
  3. The steel staircase is visible in the picture of the tracks.
  4. The plot certainly doesn’t contain any buildings of architectural merit.
  5. I also can’t see a pond, which might contain newts or other protected wildlife.

It would appear to be an ideal site for a station building, with all the necessary facilities.

More Information And Pictures Of The Former Station

This page on the Disused Stations web site, gives extra information to Wikipedia about the station and has some interesting pictures.

How Will The Platforms Be Accessed?

It is a long way for steps, as especially as new stations are generally built step-free.

Merseyrail already have a pair of almost identical stations; Kirkdale and Wavertree Technology Park, which both opened in 2000.

These pictures show Kirkdale station.

I suspect, platform access at Liverpool St. James station of a similar design could be devised.

  • The simplest design would surely be to put a bridge across the tracks from the ticket office, which had a large lift on both sides of the tracks direct to the platforms.
  • Stairs from such a bridge could probably be added, but they would be long and complicated.
  • It might need a two-stage process with lifts taking passengers down to a bridge over the trains and then stairs and more lifts or ramps to the platforms.

At least, as the line is electrified for third-rail, I doubt clearance will be needed for overhead wires.

Could The Station Have An Island Platform?

One of the comments suggested this. In addition, one picture on the Disused Stations web site appears to show three tracks through the station site.

So this could be an interesting possibility.

Conclusion

I think that we might see a very innovative design here, given Merseyrail’s past record.

November 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Equilibrium With The Covids

The rate of lab confirmed cases in six cities per 100,000 of the population are as follows.

  • London – 836.6
  • Leeds – 2128
  • Liverpool – 2113.6
  • Manchester – 2879.6
  • Sheffield – 2291.2
  • Hull – 1013.9

In addition, if you look at many individual London boroughs, they are around the 600-900 range.

Is There A London Equilibrium?

As London is a more-or-less coherent entity has  the virus found an equilibrium with the city?

As a Control Engineer, I think London is showing a classic example of water finding its own level.

I would suspect that the average Londoner, visits a couple of other boroughs very regularly.

Does this mean that the virus gets transferred regularly across borough boundaries and this levels things up?

Is There A Northern Equilibrium?

It also looks like the virus has found a higher equilibrium with the Northern cities.

If you look at other areas in the North, that sit between the major cities, they seem in line with rates in Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds..

The city that is out of line is Hull, which has a rate half that of the others. Could this be because of its location?

Suffolk In The Sixties

I remember Suffolk in the 1960s, when it was three counties; East Suffolk, West Suffolk and Ipswich.

All counties had different pub opening hours  people would drive miles to get an extra half-hour of drinking.

I wonder if the different regulations and lock-downs across the various parts of the North have actually increased travel across regions and spread the virus.

This behaviour has created an equilibrium between the virus and the population.

Is There A East Anglian Equilibrium?

These are the figures for the three East Anglian counties.

  • Cambridgeshire – 596
  • Norfolk – 536
  • Suffolk – 531

There is not a large spread in the figures.

Other Areas

I have looked at other areas and a similar pattern seems to apply, where the figures are more or less the same in somewhere like the West Midlands, the South West (Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire) or Wales.

October 21, 2020 Posted by | Health, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Why Is Manchester The Odd City Out?

I find the different reactions of the large Northern cities interesting.

I have seen no comment and moaning from Leeds, Newcastle and Sheffield, and Liverpool and the rest of Lancashire seems to have accepted their Tier 3. fate.

Only Manchester seems to have a serious objection.

I know Liverpool well, as I went to Liverpool University in the 1960s, met my late wife there and we lived together in the city for a couple of years.

I still visit the City regularly, as I like the city’s weather and outlook and do business with my old University.

I have visited Manchester many times, often for football (I support Ipswich, despite being a Londoner!) and I find the city very different to Liverpool.

But I don’t seem to warm to Manchester, as I do to Liverpool and the other large cities of the North.

Or is it Manchester doesn’t warm to me?

Andy Burnham is not a Mancunian and could it be, that his hard stand against the Government, is driven by wanting to be more Mancunian, than the Mancunians.

Manchester puzzles me, but it does seem to be out of step with the rest of the North.

October 16, 2020 Posted by | Health, World | , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Liverpool And Hackney Puzzle

I know Liverpool well, as I was there as a student in the 1960s and now help fund cancer research in the University.

I now live in Hackney, which is a very mixed borough in London and not unlike lots of Liverpool in parts.

It puzzles me and some of the researchers I know in Liverpool, why Liverpool has a rate of the covids, which is five times higher than it is where I live.

October 14, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , | 1 Comment

A Useful Tool

The Times has added a useful tool to its web site, which shows the latest figures for the covids, according to a particular post code. It also shows the rules that apply.

This is the display for Hackney, where I live.

And this is the one for Liverpool, where I go regularly, although, I’ve only been once since March.

I shall use these displays to check before I travel.

Perhaps, The Times or another organ, should do something of a similar ilk for countries and places, we might want to visit.

October 2, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

Thoughts On COVID-19 On Merseyside

Merseyside is in trouble with the covids.

These are the number of lab confirmed cases per 100,000 population for local authorities in the area, as of the 1st October 2020.

  • Halton – 1108.1
  • Knowsley – 1388
  • Liverpool – 1244.5
  • Sefton – 1037.6
  • St. Helens – 1230.4
  • Wirral – 1185.5

My London Borough of Hackney, which is demographically, a bit like poorer parts of Liverpool, has a rate of 524.3.

But the gold standard to my mind is Cambridge, which has a rate of only 380.6.

Oxford, which is a very similar city to Cambridge has a much higher rate of 799.5,

Why Is Cambridge Doing So Well?

I was diagnosed as a coeliac at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, twenty-three years ago.

According to my consultant in the City at the time, Cambridge has a VERY high level of diagnosed coeliacs.

He told me, that he had more coeliac  patients, than any other gastroenterologist in the UK.

So why is the number of coeliacs so high in Cambridge?

I feel it is because Cambridge had a Whack-a-Coeliac policy in the 1990s, where they attempted to diagnose as many coeliacs as they could find.

I was certainly diagnosed at that time and judging by the speed they did the initial diagnosis, I suspect, they were using one of the first genetic tests. They were also doing endoscopies without anaesthetic to increase throughput!

Coeliacs, Cancer And The Covids

Diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have a strong immune system, which helps protect them from cancer, as has been shown by Joe West at Nottingham University.

I should also add, that none of my coeliac acquaintances have had a severe dose of the covids.

So does our stronger immune systems give us protection from the covids?

This could explain, why an area like Cambridge has a lower level of the covids than Oxford.

Why Is Merseyside In Trouble?

The Irish, because of historic famine, have higher levels of coeliac disease.

Comedians from the City have joked about Liverpool being the capital of Ireland for decades.

Could it be that there is a high percentage of undiagnosed coeliacs on Merseyside?

If this is true, could these undiagnosed coeliacs, with poorer immune systems, be easy pickings for the covids?

Conclusion

These actions should be taken.

  • Merseyside needs a Whack-a-Coeliac policy, if it doesn’t have one! It would certainly, improve cancer rates!
  • Every in-patient with the covids, should be given a quick blood test for coeliac disease.
  • Other research needs to be done to find out the any link between coeliac disease and the covids!

Not for nothing is coeliac disease regularly called the Many-Headed Hydra by some doctors and researchers.

 

 

 

October 1, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Transition Your Ships To Zero-Emissions With Ballard’s New FCwave

The title of this post, is the same as that of this post on the Ballard blog.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Today, the maritime sector accounts for approximately 2.5% of global carbon emissions, equivalent to 940 megatonnes each year . But the industry is now moving into a new era of mobility, where sustainability and climate change issues are top of mind.

And this paragraph introduces Ballard’s solution.

At Ballard, we’re here to support ship operators and marine propulsion integrators in this transition. Today, we’ll introduce you to our new FCwave™ fuel cell module—the world’s first commercial fuel cell solution for marine vessels.

There is a link to a brochure.

The blog also has two videos and a picture of a Caledonian MacBrayne ferry, which is labelled Ballard Fuel Cell Powered HySeas Consortium Ferry, so is a hydrogen-powered ferry coming to an island near you or where you like to go?

This article on the Liverpool Echo is entitled Plans For A New Ferry To Cross The Mersey.

As the current two ferries, were in service when I was a student at Liverpool University in the 1960s, replacement of one of the most iconic, if not the most iconic ferries in the world with hydrogen power would be a smart move, by both Liverpool and Ballard.

Especially, as the Liverpool area is not short of hydrogen.

September 15, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Seats On Avanti West Coast

I went to Liverpool yesterday on an Avanti West Coast Class 390 train in Standard Class.

I booked on Monday and asked for a table seat.

I actually got a set of four to myself, as this picture shows.

When I got back, out of curiosity I tried to book a complete set of four seats for possibly a family or a group, who were in the same bubble.

I got three seats together and a fourth a few seats away.

So if you need to do that, I would suggest you’re careful with the booking or do it in the traditional manner.

Having travelled twice to the North West in recent weeks, I wouldn’t recommend First Class, as all you get extra is a better pair of seats.

Incidentally, when I came back, because of the weather, I abandoned my trip around the city and got to Lime Street with an hour or so to wait.

But I was able to change my booking for an earlier train for about thirteen pounds and still got a set of four to myself.

August 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments