The Anonymous Widower

Crossrails For The North

Regularly there are references in the media for Crossrail for the North.

This article in Rochdale Online is entitled Andy Burham calls for ‘Crossrail for North’

Note that the misspelling of Andy Burnham; the Mayor of Manchester’s name is from the web site.

Andy Burnham and many others have a point that West-East connections across the North are not good, but it is not that simple.

Hence the reason, I’ve called this post Crossrails For The North and not Crossrail For The North.

Northern And London Crossrails Compared

If you look at Greater London, the distance between Reading and Shenfield stations, which are two of the termini of London’s Crossrail, is about eighty miles and when Crossrail opens a train will take about one hour forty minutes.

By comparison, Liverpool to Leeds is just over seventy miles and the current fastest trains take ninety minutes with two stops at Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield stations.

Those that live East of Leeds, keep reading.

The differences between the two routes, when Crossrail opens will be mainly down to the number of stops, frequency and connectivity.

  • The Northern Route is shorter and hence marginally faster.
  • The London route has more stops.
  • The London route has a higher frequency.
  • The London route is electrified.
  • The London route will be served by specially-designed Class 345 trains.

But possibly most importantly, the London route connects to a large number of North-South cross-city railways.

It is sensible to think of London’s Crossrail as a loose ball of chunky knitting wool with a big fat needle stuck through it.

The ball of knitting wool is Central London with all its Underground and Overground Lines.

Crossrail is the big fat needle struck right through the middle.

You could actually argue that not just one big fat needle is through the middle, as Crossrail is paralleled by some of London’s historic Underground Lines.

Crossrail is going to be a massive playground for the duckers-and-divers, as they search for the fastest route.

How London Crossrail Will Develop

London Crossrail is not a complete system, with certain connections not of the best.

  • Eurostar from St. Psncras International
  • HighSpeed services from Stratford International
  • HS2
  • Piccadilly Line
  • Scottish and Northern services from Euston and Kings Cross
  • Victoria Line

Several of these connections can be addressed by smaller projects like the necessary rebuilding of tube stations like Bank, Charing Cross, Euston and Oxford Circus.

A lot of London politicians are pushing for Crossrail 2 , but London will be given a big increase in capacity with Crossrail and I think there is an opportunity to redefine the scope of the later project, in the light of what happens after Crossrail opens.

Consider the following, which will happen after Crossrail opens.

  • Huge pedestrianisation will happen in the City of London and the West End.
  • Hopefully, walking in large parts of Central London will improve to the standard of the bus- and car-free Central Liverpool.
  • On foot interchanges like Oxford Circus-Bond Street and Bank-Liverpool Street will be easier and quicker than now.
  • The long-neglected and ill-fated Northern City Line is getting new trains, higher frequencies and hopefully a deep-clean of the stations.
  • Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations will effectively become one station with world class connectivity.
  • The Waterloo and City Line will be improved and probably go 24/7!
  • Waterloo station will get a forty percent capacity increase this summer.
  • The Northern Line Extension to Battersea will open in 2020.
  • New trains will have been delivered for London Overground’s Liverpool Street and Gospel Oak to Barking services.

Londoners will fully exploit the network and importantly Transport for London will have detailed information from the ticketing system on the routes taken and the bottlenecks as they develop.

Access For All

Access for All is a National programme, that is making stations all over the country accessible to as many passengers as possible.

Check the list of stations being updated under Access For All

After the General Election, I would not be surprised to see funding for this programme increased all over the country, as it is both necessary and a quick way to attract more passengers to the railways.

New Stations

Since 2000, seventy-four new stations have opened or reopened.

I can rarely remember stations reopening last century, but the 4-5 new stations every year since the turn of the Millennium, seems to have continued this year with the opening of Cambridge North, Ilkeston and Low Moor

The New Franchises

Five franchises have been awarded lately.

  • Greater Anglia
  • Northern
  • ScotRail
  • South Western Trains
  • TransPennine

A feature of all these franchises is that the operators are introducing a lot of new trains and substantially refurbishing others.

Will this trend continue?

Obviously, the operators have done their sums and find that new trains attract more passengers.

There is a major problem with new trains, in that capacity to build them must be getting very short. I also don’t think that Chinese trains will be welcomed.

If I was Prime Minister, I’d make sure there was enough capacity to build and refurbish trains in the United Kingdom.

Building Crossrail 2

There is no doubt that at some time in the future, Crossrail 2 will be built.

But unlike Crossrail, which is a massive project similar in size to the Channel Tunnel,, the electrification of the Great Western Railway or HS2, it is a collection of smaller projects that can be phased over the years, with each phase giving substantial benefits to London, train companies and passengers, be they Londoners, commuters or tourists.

I would build it in the following sequence of sub-projects.

  1. Four-Tracking Of The West Anglia Main Line – Extra capacity on the West Anglia Main Line is needed for both improved London-Stansted-Cambridge services and Crossrail 2.
  2. New High-Capacity Crossrail-Compatible Trains North of London – Greater Anglia and London Overground have already ordered these trains to replace the current thirty-year-old trains.
  3. Station Improvements North of London – Improvement are much needed and are already planned and underway at Tottenham Hale and Meridian Water.
  4. Improve Connection To Sub-Surface Lines At St. Pancras Station – The current connectivity is terrible between these lines and Thameslink and the HighSpeed lines to Kent.
  5. Connect Euston Square Tube Station To Euston Station To Give Extra Capacity During Euston Rebuilding For HS2
  6. Introduction Of A New Stratford-Tottenham Hale-Angel Road Service – The delivery date for STAR is 2019.
  7. Introduction Of Chingford-Walthamstow-Stratford Services – This would improve access to Crossrail and take pressure from the Victoria Line.
  8. New Stansted And Cambridge Services From Stratford – Greater Anglia have suggested this and there’s even an unused loop at Stratford, that could be used to turn trains and allow them to call at Stratford International for Eurostar to the Continent and HighSpeed services to Kent.
  9. More Terminal Capacity for Trains From North of London – The Stratford loop would increase the terminal capacity for Greater Anglia and also give access to the Jubilee Line for London Bridge, Waterloo and Westminster.
  10. Use Improved Capacity At Waterloo To Increase Services On Proposed Crossrail 2 Southern Branches – The extra capacity should help.
  11. New High-Capacity Crossrail-Compatible Trains South of London – South Western Trains have indicated this will happen.
  12. Station Improvements South of London – Improvement are much needed.
  13. Rebuild Euston Tube Station In Cnjunction With HS2

Only when these phases are completed, would the central tunnel  be bored.

This step-by-step approach has several advantages.

  • The pace of the project can be geared to the finance and resources available.
  • Some developments can have a significant local design and scope input.
  • Much needed stations can be built early to generate passengers and cash flow.
  • Trains can be follow-on orders to Crossrail.
  • The suburban sections of the route will always be available for passenger traffic.

When Crossrail 2 is complete, the second big fat knitting needle has been stuck in the ball of wool.

What Can The North Learn From London?

I would argue that one of the keys to London’s success over the years has been its comprehensive multi-layered public transport system.

  • Crossrail, Crossrail 2, Thameslink and the Overground could be considered the top layer.
  • The Underground, the Docklands Light Railway and the suburban electric trains are the middle layer.
  • Buses form the local and bottom layer.

Underneath a walking and cycling layer is emerging.

The North of England can be considered a series of local transport networks, which are connected by a series of major lines, which are equivalent to London’s Crossrail, Crossrail 2 etc.

Northern Connect

I find it interesting that Northern are introducing a Northern Connect service, which Wikipedia describes as follows.

From December 2019, Northern will operate a network of twelve Northern Connect interurban express services. Eleven of these will be operated by brand-new Class 195 diesel multiple units and Class 331 electric multiple units, whilst the Middlesbrough to Carlisle via Newcastle route will be operated by refurbished Class 158 units.

Places that will be served by Northern Connect routes include Bradford, Chester, Halifax, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Nottingham, Newcastle, Preston, Sheffield, Barnsley, Lincoln, Wakefield and York.

Local Networks In The North

Some of the local Northern networks in places like Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield are certainly better than others.

It could also be argued that the six cities I named, are among the most successful and vibrant cities of the North.

I feel that for the railways to be successful in the North and for some cities to have a major improvement in prosperity, that some of the local networks need substantial improvement.

TransPennine And Feeder Routes

The starting point is to detail the Northern Connect and TransPennine Express services in the North.

The Northern Connect services given in the January 2016 Edition of Modern Railways are as follows.

  • Middlesbrough to Newcastle
  • Newcastle to Carlisle
  • Hull to Sheffield
  • Nottingham to Bradford via Leeds
  • Lincoln to Leeds via Sheffield and Barnsley
  • Liverpool to Manchester Airport via Warrington
  • Chester to Leeds via Warrington, Manchester Victoria and the Calder Valley
  • Blackpool North to York via Preston and Leeds
  • Barrow to Manchester Airport
  • Bradford to Manchester Airport via the Calder Valley.
  • Blackpool to Manchester Airport
  • Windermere to Manchester Airport

I suspect plans have changed since January 2016, but the possible routes are a good start.

According to Wikipedia, TransPennine routes are as follows.

  • Liverpool Lime Street to Newcastle via Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds and York
  • Manchester Airport to Middlesbrough via Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Leeds and York
  • Manchester Airport to York via Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield and Leeds
  • Liverpool Lime Street to Scarborough via Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds and York
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Hull via Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds and Selby
  • Manchester Airport to Cleethorpes via Manchester Piccadilly, Stockport, Sheffield, Meadowhall and Doncaster
  • Manchester Airport to Edinburgh Waverley/Glasgow Central via Manchester Piccadilly

These routes will change in the next year, when the Ordsall Chord opens.

The opening of the chord, may mean that certain services to Manchester Airport, will not need to reverse at Manchester Piccadilly.

Summarising the East-West routes across the Pennines gives.

  • Newcastle to Carlisle
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Huddersfield
  • Blackpool North to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Doncaster via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield

None of these lines are fully electrified.

They are also connected to their ultimate destinations by feeder lines.

  • Liverpool to Manchester Airport via Warrington
  • Chester to Manchester Victoria via Warrington
  • Liverpool to Manchester Victoria
  • Leeds to Newcastle via York
  • York to Middlesbrough
  • York to Scarborough
  • Leeds to Hull

Only the following lines will be fully electrified by December 2017.

  • Liverpool to Manchester Victoria
  • The West Coast Main Line
  • The East Coast Main Line
  • Some Suburban Routes in Blackpool, Liverpool, Manchester and Preston
  • Some Suburban Routes in Bradford and Leeds

Most of the routes will have to be run by diesel or bi-mode trains.

The Crossrails For The North

There are five East-West routes across the Pennines used by Northern Connect and TransPennine Express.

  • Newcastle to Carlisle
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Huddersfield
  • Blackpool North to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Doncaster via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield

To these I would add two extra lines.

  • Leeds to Carlisle via Settle
  • Preston to Leeds via Burnley, Colne and Skipton.

Note

  1. I have added the Settle-Carlisle Line, as it is world-renowned, is in excellent condition and if provided with a decent train service, could be a major attraction, that would bring tourists to the area.
  2. The Skipton to Colne Line should be reinstated, to create a direct connection between the electrified local networks servingLeeds/Bradford and Liverpool/Manchester/Preston.

But there would be seven magnificent routes across the Pennines, which could be updated to the following objectives.

  • Frequent trains on all lines with at least two trains per hour (tph)
  • 100 mph running where possible.
  • As high a frequency as possible on the core section between Manchester Victoria and Leeds. Plans exist for six tph, which is a good start.
  • In the East trains would fan out to Cleethorpes, Grimsby, Hull, Newcastle and Scarborough, as they do now.
  • In the West trains would fan out to Blackpool, Chester, Crewe and Liverpool.
  • Lots of cross-platform connections at stations like Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester Victoria, Newcastle, Preston and York with long distance North-South services to London and the South and Scotland.
  • All stations would be step-free with lifts or ramps.

In addition provision should be made early to make sure that there are good connections to HS2.

Electrification

Obviously, electrification would be an ultimate goal on all these East-West routes.

But there are various problems with the electrification of the Peenine sections of the routes.

  • These lines have large numbers of low bridges and high viaducts.
  • Electrification would need to be robust because of the weather.
  • Electrification gantries might not fit well in the scenery.
  • Installation and servicing of overhead electrification may not be an easy process.

On the other hand, the noise of diesel trains might not be welcomed.

However, I believe that in the next ten years much quieter self-powered trains will be commonplace.

At the present time, if diesel or bi-mode trains are acceptable, then they should be used to provide a service.

Looking at the various feeder routes to the East and West of the Pennine sections, it is a different matter.

  • Routes are less challenging.
  • There are fewer bridges and viaducts.
  • Installation and servicing of overhead electrification would be easier.

There is already a lot of electrification at the East and West, which could be extended to places like Chester, Hull and Middlesbrough.

A Pennine core without difficult electrification, between electrified feeder routes may be the most efficient way to run the routes using bi-mode trains.

It might be sensible to use Class 88 bi-mode locomotives instead of the currently proposed Class 68 locomotives with rakes of coaches, as is planned by TransPennine Express.

A Hull to Liverpool service would run under the following power.

  • Hull to Bradford via Leeds – Electricity
  • Bradford to Stalybridge- Diesel
  • Stalybridge to Liverpool via Manchester Victoria – Electricity.

Around thirty miles would be on diesel and the difficult electrification in the Pennines would be avoided.

Infrastructure

This table is a brief summary of the routes.

  • Newcastle to Carlisle – Double track, 18 stations
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via the Calder Valley Line – Double track – 17 stations
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Huddersfield – Double track – 14 stations
  • Blackpool North to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line – Double track – 14 stations
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Doncaster via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield – Double track – 18 stations
  • Leeds to Carlisle via Settle – Double track – 10 stations
  • Preston to Leeds via Burnley, Colne and Skipton – Part Single track

Note.

  1. Most routes are double track, which aids train scheduling.
  2. All except Skipton to Colne seems in good condition.
  3. I can’t find much information about speed limits.

I think it is true to say, that none of the routes could be a high speed line, although a large proportion could have substantial speed increases.

From what I have seen in East Anglia, I suspect most routes could be upgraded to 100 mph, which with the train frequencies of say four tph could give a substantial increase in speed.

Stations

Many of the secondary stations on these routes are not blessed with facilities like ticket machines, lifts and step-free access.

If I compare, what I see on the web, with what I have experienced in East Anglia, the quality of the smaller stations is not good.

Services

The services along the lines are not of a high frequency or of a high speed, but Northern and TransPennine Express intend to increase frequencies and speed.

The new trains with their faster stops will help.

This is said about the Future Services of TransPennine Express on Wikipedia.

A twice-hourly service between Manchester and Newcastle will be phased in between December 2016 and December 2017, made up of the existing service from Liverpool and a reinstated service from Manchester Airport. Trains between Liverpool and Newcastle will be extended to Edinburgh via the East Coast Main Line, giving a twice-hourly service between Leeds and Edinburgh together with an hourly CrossCountry service. Trains between Liverpool and Scarborough will be rerouted via Manchester Victoria and Newton-le-Willows to provide a half-hourly fast service between Liverpool and Manchester. It is also planned to operate a six train per hour frequency between Manchester and Leeds, up from five today.

I can’t find anything about timings.

A High Speed Line

Building a new high speed line will be difficult, expensive and may take years, as there will probably be a need for a costly tunnel through solid rock between Manchester and Leeds.

So a prudent Project Management strategy could be phased in the same way I proposed for London’s Crossrail 2.

  • Increase Line Speed – This would probably give the largest benefit, as it would enable more and faster trains.
  • Electrify From Leeds To York  This would enable TransPennine’s Class 802 trains between Liverpool/Manchester Airport and Newcastle/Edinburgh to run more efficiently.
  • Electrify From Liverpool To Manchester Airport Via Warrington – This would tidy up electrification between Liverpool and Manchester.
  • Electrify To Chester From Crewe and Warrington – This would link North Wales to the TransPennine routes.
  • Electrify From Leeds To Hull – This would be a comparatively easy electrification.
  • Create The Skipton To Colne Link – This would link the two Norhern suburban electric networks and become a valuable transport asset for both local residents and visitors.
  • Improve Stations – Better facilities and atep-free access is desperately needed. Especially at secondary stations.
  • Improve Local Networks In Selected Cities – Some are much better than others.
  • Increase Train Frequencies – Run at least two tph on all routes.

Hopefully, a decent service can be provided, until a new high speed route can be built.

One great advantage that this project has compared say to the electrification of the Great Western Railway, is that because there are several current routes, if one needs to be closed for a short time, there is a suitable alternative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 21, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Pop Group That Saved A City With A Little Help From Their Friends

It is the fiftieth anniversary of the release of one of the best albums of all time; Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

I bought the album and still have it somewhere.

But I don’t think most people understand how the Beatles changed a city completely.

Liverpool in the sixties had nasty undercurrents of violence and religious hatred. But  in the five years, I lived in the city, these changed for the better, with the rivalry being transferred to support for your favourite group or football team.

Liverpool acquired a belief that it could take on the world and win.

Now, when I go back regularly, I find a confident, bustling, modern and friendly city, that compares to any in the world.

But what would have happened if the Beatles hadn’t?

April 5, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Liverpool Pier Head On A Sunny Morning

When I was a student at Liverpool University in the 1960s, this area was so different.

I can only remember, the Three Graces and the Memorial to those with no known grave.

Incidentally, I talked to one of the volunteers in the Tate Liverpool and he says that Friday is often quiet in Liverpool. The gallery certainly was, but they were between exhibitions.

The statue looking out to sea is of Captain Frederick John “Johnnie” Walker, who  was the most successful anti-submarine warfare commander during the Battle of the Atlantic.

 

 

March 24, 2017 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Why Aren’t More High Streets Like Liverpool?

These pictures were taken early on a sunny morning in Liverpool’s main shopping street.

No buses, cars and taxis, only a few deliveries and little street clutter.

Imagine Oxford Street like this. Except you can’t as it’s not wide enough!

Both my local High Streets; Angel and Dalston are even main routes for trucks.

March 24, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

From Stockport Station To Liverpool Lime Street Station By Train

In a comment a friend said this about going by train from Stockport to Liverpool.

When we first moved here, there was no direct train to Liverpool, we had to go into Piccadilly, cross to Victoria and get a train to Liverpool. And before the trams that was a complete pain!

So how is it now?

Using National Rail Enquiries, I find that every hour there is a direct train from Stockport station to Liverpool South Parkway and Liverpool Lime Street stations at around twenty-five minutes past the hour, that takes a few minutes over the hour to get to Liverpool Lime Street.

They seem to be run by East Midlands Trains, so they will be a Class 158 train, which is fine.

If say you were to drive to Manchester Airport first, you can get a refurbished electric train, that takes virtually the same time to Liverpool.

Stockport To Manchester Airport

Until I wrote this, I hadn’t realised that Airport trains don’t go via Stockport, but they use the Styal Line that by-passes Stockport.

Looking at maps of the area, it would appear that there might be a way of trains going from Manchester to the Airport via Stockport.

Trains might take the Mid-Cheshire Line and then access the Styal Line at a new junction North of Gatley station.

This Google Map shows the area where the railway lines cross.

Gatley station is at the South-West corner of the map and the Styal Line runs Northwards past the motorway junction between the M60 and the A34.

The Mid-Cheshire Line runs across the map South of the motorway junction and the Alexandra Hospital.

I suppose the cost was too high, but then how do you put all the travellers’ cars on the train?

The fact that the rail link between Stockport and Manchester Airport wasn’t created at the same time as the motorway junction is a design crime of the highest order.

It looks to me that there is even space for a Park-and-Ride for Stockport and Manchester in the area.

The Ordsall Chord

The Ordsall Chord, will link Manchester Victoria and Piccadilly stations with a huge bridge across the Irwell, before the end of 2017

It will have four trains per hour (tph) in both directions, between Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Oxford Road, Deansgate, Salford Central and Manchester Victoria stations. There is probably capacity for this service to go to eight tph,

Initially, trains will be refurbished four-car Class 319 electric trains, that currently work Liverpool to Manchester services.

These trains are no suburban trundlers, but will be able to cruise near to 100 mph on parts of the journey, thus knocking a few minutes off the time between Manchester Piccadlly and the Airport.

What Will The Ordsall Chord Do For Stockport?

I have to ask this question and until the timetables are published late this year, everything I say here will be speculation.

  • I would be very surprised if there wasn’t at least 1 electric tph that went to Manchester Victoria station.
  • Eventually, this service could be made more frequent and perhaps extended to Blackburn, Burnley, Huddsersfield or Stalybridge.
  • If Manchester Victoria has been designed right, there should be same-platform interchange at the station to TransPennine services to places like Hull, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  • I also suspect train companies will use the chord to provide new services like perhaps Chester to Leeds, that could go through Stockport.

Forget HS3 for the moment, this is the reality of 2017.

Liverpool to Manchester Airport

Several stations in Liverpool have an hourly service to Manchester Airport and this will probably get better as more Class 319 and Class 319 Flex Trains are brought into service.

It’s rather ironic, but from what I have found, that it would appear that Liverpool gets at least as good a service to Manchester Airport as does the much Stockport!

And Liverpool’s service is likely to double in frequency in the near future!

The Liverpool and Stockport services to Manchester Airport, do have one thing in common though! Both have  intermediate stops at Manchester Piccadilly!

But why would you want to go to Manchester Piccadilly, when you’re just going a few miles down the road? Especially, as if you’re going to Manchester Piccadilly, you already have in excess of four tph.

Leeds To Manchester Airport

Currently, Leeds to Manchester Airport has a two tph service via Huddersfield.

When the Ordsall Chord opens that Leeds to Manchester services will go to a higher frequency via Manchester Victoria, thus improving the service to the Airport from Leeds, by giving Leeds passengers access to Manchester local tram and train services to the Airport.

Conclusions

Services from Stockport through Manchester will improve, due to the opening of the Ordsall hord and other electrification works.

But, Stockport needs a quick non-stop service to the Airport with a frequency of at least two tph for economic prosperity.

Perhaps to get a good service to Manchester Airport, your city must begin with L or M.

 

March 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

From Liverpool To Huddersfield

These pictures document a trip I took between Liverpool and Huddersfield.

Some thoughts on the trip.

The Class 319 Interior

The first batch of Northern’s Class 319 trains are very much pack-it-in specials for running commuter services around the Blackpool, Liverpool, Manchester Airport triangle.

They are good for a thirty-year-old train, but they could be better.

In Porterbrook’s Class 319 Flex brochure, they show a proposed interior based on a Class 319/4 with the following.

  • A mix of 2×2 and 2×3 seating.
  • 12 First Class seats
  • 255 Standard Class seats
  • A full-accessible toilet.
  • Two luggage racks per car.

It would certainly be a much better passenger experience.

Works At Edge Hill

Buckingham Group obviously have a big project on to the East of Edge Hill station.

This Google Map shows the lines through and to the East of Edge Hill.

Note how to the South of the Retail Park and/or warehouses, work seems to be going on. Are extra tracks being created?

There is also a white scar at Wavertree Technology Park station, so if this was two fast lines, then fast services between Liverpool and Manchester and Wigan could storm in and out.

The Atherton Line

The Atherton Line is part of the Manchester-Southport Line and runs between Wigan Wallgate and Salford Crescent stations.

Wikipedia says this about Improvements to the Atherton Line.

There is ongoing feasibility into the conversion of parts of this line (Wigan–Atherton–Manchester) to operate as a Manchester Metrolink service with a higher frequency metro service for the Greater Manchester Boroughs of Wigan and Salford into the city centre. In November 2013, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority approved a recommended strategy for reconfiguring existing commuter services into tram-train operation, identifying the Atherton line as providing an opportunity for extending potential tram-train services from the south-east (Marple, Glossop) across the city centre and outwards to the north west.[2] Southport and Kirkby services on this line would be diverted to operate via Bolton. Additionally, Network Rail has identified electrification of Wigan to Southport, together with the Ormskirk–Preston line and the Burscough Curves as a possible source of new services.

I also think that the route from Salford Crescent to Southport via Atherton and Wigan could be ideal for electrifying in stages using Class 319 Flex trains to bridge any gaps.

The tools seem to be there, now is the time to think about how the work will be done.

Salford Crescent

Salford Crescent station could look very different in the future, as modern station design might be seen to favour two island platforms, one face of each dealing with Manchester Victoria station and the other Manchester Piccadilly station.

  • Passengers going in to Manchester, needing trains to the other terminus, would just wait on the platform and catch the next train.
  • Passengers coming from Manchester, who needed a different distination would change at Salford Crescent to their desired train.
  • Comprehensive information would be provided.

The platforms would be built with lots of space, waiting rooms and coffee kiosks and would be well-staffed.

Manchester Victoria Station

Manchester Victoria station is starting look dirty again.

It must be all those elderly diesel trains.

Huddersfield Line

The Huddersfield Line took me to Stalybridge station and then later on to Huddersfield station.

There was no sign of any electrification work.

Stalybridge Station

As a coeliac, I found Stalybridge station one of the most gluten-free-unfriendly stations I have ever found.

In future, if I’m going that way, I’ll make sure that I stock up in Manchester or Leeds first.

TransPennine Express

The train was crowded and getting on at Stalybridge for the short trip to Huddersfield was delayed, as the conductor couldn’t get near to the doors to open them. Whereas the driver could have had a clear view.

It’s about time the NUR stopped this Driver Only Operation farce, which nearly all passengers think is sillier than the Teletubbies.

I hope the idiot, who landed TransPennine routes with the inadequate number of Class 185 trains, now has a job where he can do no harm, like in charge of the railways on the Scilly Isles.

Huddersfield

I don’t know Huddersfield and the only thing I’ve ever bought in the town is a ticket to the football.

You arrive in the Grade I Listed Huddersfield station and walk out into the magnificent St. George’s Square, which should be a welcoming gateway to the town.

Compare it to Kings Cross Square, where there is generally something going on and on a Friday is bustling with food stalls.

I walked to the shops and did find Marks and Spencer in a prominent place, but why wasn’t the route for pedestrians only, as it was crammed with traffic and parked cars.

Huddersfield needs to think how they organise their town centre, as except for the square ut’s about as weloming to visitors as Turkey is to the Dutch.

This Google Map shows the area.

I feel that Huddersfield needs what most European towns of this size would have and that is a tram, that goes through the centre.

You would walk out of the station and in the square would be a tram stop. Trams would go South along a pedestrianised John William Street and New Street. Obviously the route would be designed to go through the town to the main hospital, the University and if possible the the Council Offices, the Courts and the football/rugby stadium.

Incidentally, if you search for Huddersfield Hospital, you don’t find the NHS hospital, but a private one. All major hospitals should have a name like Ipswich, Reading or Crawley Hospital. It should also be galleria for sports venues to constantly change their names.

Huddersfield might wonder, why it doesn’t get the visitors, it thinks it should. It’s because it isn’t visitor friendly.

If I was a businessman wanting to set up a depot, warehouse or whatever in a large town in the North of England, Huddersfield would put me off because of its non-existent and chaotic transport system, built around everybody having a car with a sat-nav.

 

 

March 10, 2017 Posted by | Food, Travel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Blackburn To Liverpool

I took these pictures as I went from Blackburn to Liverpool by a rather roundabout route mainly using a Lancashire Day Ranger.

These are my notes on the pictures.

The North Wakes Up Slow

I usually wake up about five and listen to the early news and Wake Up To Money on BBC Radio 5.

One of the reasons, I stay in Premier Inns, is that when I’m in one, I don’t have to change my routine.

I often leave home around seven and get my paper from the shop on the corner, which opens at the same time. Even on Sundays!

But in Blackburn and many places in the North, try getting a paper at that time and nothing’s open.

The Morrisons in Blackburn Town Centre didn’t open until 08:30, which is almost the afternoon for me!

Clitheroe Station

I did take one of the first stations to Clitheroe station, which cost me just £2.70 with my Senior Railcard.

Clitheroe is the sort of station, that has a homely atmosphere and serves as the terminal for the Ribble Valley Line, with a ticket office, four-car platforms and an underpass to get across the tracks.

To Southport via Bolton

I took the train back to Bolton station and I just had time to buy a Lancashire Day Ranger in time to get a train to Southport station.

Southport station has a direct entrance to the town’s Marks and Spencer, so it must have the biggest food hall in any UK station.

I took the opportunity to pick up some sandwiches for an early lunch.

Kirkby Station

Kirkby station is like Ormskirk station, where the Merseyrail third-rail electric trains meet Northern’s services from Manchester or Preston.

It is not the best of designs, but Merseyrail are aiming to move the interchange to a new station at Headbolt Lane, which will hopefully have electric trains to Manchester on the Kirkby Branch Line, via Wigan Wallgate and Atherton stations.

Kirkdale Station

Kirkdale station is architecturally unusual, in that everything is on a step-free bridge across the tracks. Liverpool has another similar one in Wavertree Technology Parkstation, but why haven’t we got a standard station like this for lines in cuttings?

St. Luke’s Church

I always visit St. Luke’s Church, if I have time, when I pass through Liverpool.

It was one of C’s favourite places in the City and to me, it sums up Liverpool’s attitude to the troubles that beset us all!

Sadly, it would appear that La Bussola in old Street is no more, as it’s reincarnation as a Starbucks has been turned into a clothes shop.

The places of 1960s Liverpool are disappearing. At least Phred seemed to still be standing tall on the shell of the former Lewis’s Department Store.

 

March 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Will High Speed 2 Have Go-Anywhere Trains?

I ask this question as after writing Plans For Toton Station For HS2 Are Beginning To Emerge, I started to think about the specification of the trains that will work on HS2.

Extending North |From Toton Or East Midlands Hub Station

Extending HS2 to Sheffield from Toton will eventually be via a dedicated High Speed Line, where the trains can run at their design speed of 225 mph.

But Toton HS2 to Sheffield via Chesterfield will be linked by the Erewash Valley Line, where trains will be able to travel at least as fast as 125 mph.

The Erewash Valley Line will probably be electrified before HS2 opens to Toton HS2 around 2030, to bring Sheffield consistently under two hours from London.

Extending North From Crewe

Similarly Crewe to Liverpool will not be getting a dedicated High Speed Line, but there is already a route where at least 125 mph is possible.

As passengers won’t want to change trains, Liverpool will get two trains per hour (tph)from London on HS2.

The only work needed North of Crewe would be to create extra and longer platforms at Liverpool Lime Street, provided that the new HS2 trains can work on classic high speed lines like the West Coast Main Line.

These improvements at Liverpool Lime Street are actually underway and knowing Scousers as I do, you could bet your house on it being ready in 2027, as they would want to have HS2 services at the same time as Manchester, if not a couple of years before.

Learning From The French

We should also look at how the French do things.

If you travel from Biarritz to Paris via a TGV, the service runs on both High Speed and classic lines.

From the Liverpool and Sheffield examples, I suspect that we will adopt a similar philosophy.

Consider when HS2 opens, the places that could be served directly from Crewe.

  • Runcorn and Liverpool
  • Manchester Piccadilly, if there is platform space.
  • Warrington, Preston, Carlisle, Glasgow and Edinburgh – Why not?
  • Chester and Holyhead – If the North Wales Coast Line is electrified, as has been threatened!

Note most of the West Coast Main Line routes are covered.

Can this explain the decision to combine the HS2 and West Coast Main Line franchises and the early extension of HS2 to Crewe?

The new franchise could even use the same 225 mph trains for HS2 at a slower speed on the West Coast Main Line to replace the Pendelinos.

The only disadvantage would be that the new trains couldn’t take advantage of the more generous HS2 loading gauge, unless of course the classic lines, where they are to run have their gauges enhanced. This may already be the case, as many of these routes have a loading gauge of W10 to take large freight containers.

The Trains For HS2 And West Coast Main Line

I think we’ll be seeing a very interesting specification for the HS2 trains.

  • 225 mph capability on High Speed Lines
  • 140 mph Pendolino performance on classic lines where possible.
  • Short and long trains. Class 800 trains and others seem to be ordered this way, as five and nine/ten car units.
  • Automatic coupling and uncoupling of units, just as Class 395 trains do now!

As the trains won’t be delivered for nearly ten years,  wouldn’t be surprised to see that they have a 100 mph independently-powered capability of perhaps 100 miles. This would enable the trains to reach places like Aberdeen, Barrow in Furness, Blackpool, Inverness and Lincoln from the West Coast Main Line or Phase 1 of HS2.

Expanding The High Speed Network

It may seem strange to use perhaps onboard energy storage to extend services away from HS2. But this capability would probably only be given to the shorter trains that can join and split at Crewe or Birmingham International for fast running to and from London. Generally, when operating on onboard energy storage, the trains will be travelling at slower speeds. so less energy is needed.

This would mean that places like Barrow-in-Furnace, Blackpool, Cleethorpes and Lincoln could be easily added to the high speed network.

The High Speed network could also be expanded by improving the current network with selective electrification and the capability for higher line speeds.

All of these improvements on the classic lines,  would mean that local and freight trains were able to provide a better service too!

Coupled with HS2, they would make a wonderful marketing opportunity.

I estimate the following using new trains and HS2 from Crewe, when Phase 2a of HS2 is complete.

  • Glasgow-London would take under four hours for the journey as opposed to just over four and a half hours now.
  • Liverpool-London would come down from two hours twelve minutes to one hour 33 minutes.
  • Preston-London would down from two hours fifteen minutes to under a hundred minutes.
  • Wigan-London would come down from just over two hours to just 87 minutes.

And some commentators and politicians doubt HS2 is needed.

Conclusion

Certainly, the decision to extend as fast as possible to Crewe was a very good idea.

Consider going from Euston to Glasgow in say 2028.

  • The train would run from Euston to Crewe at full speed of 225 mph stopping if required at Old Oak Common and Birmingham International in a time of 58 minutes.
  • From Crewe to Glasgow, the train would run at least at 125 mph stopping as appropriately.
  • Selective improvements and in-cab signalling would reduce journey times from those of today to the North of Crewe.

Ten years or so later, the journey time will be even faster as the High Speed line was extended past Crewe.

February 13, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Never Underestimate Scousers With Ambition

I was looking up something at Liverpool University and came across the Liverpool Knowledge Quarter, which is a project to do what it says in the name.

One development is Paddington Village.

This is said.

Paddington Village is a £1bn flagship expansion site sitting at the eastern gateway to the city centre and has been earmarked as 1.8m sq ft of science, technology, education and health space.

In November 2016 a draft masterplan was published, outlining the plans for the site, which will be developed in three phases: Paddington Central, Paddington South and Paddington North, with phase one due to commence in the coming months.

At 30 acres, Paddington is a sizeable urban village, inspired by the sense of community you’d find in the likes of Greenwich Village in New York. Not only will it be a great place to live but a great place to work, discover and socialise, with state-of-the art workspace, labs, cafés, restaurants, shops, accommodation, a hotel and teaching, examination and events space.

The sites first two anchor tenants have already been announce and will see as new Northern Centre of Excellence for the Royal College of Physicians and a new 45,000 sq ft education and learning facilities and 262 residential bed spaces for Liverpool International College. There are also plans in place for a new train station, making this phase two of the Paddington Village development key to the new transport infrastructure for the area.

I also found some more about the Paddington Square station in other places.

This news item in the Liverpool Echo says or implies the following.

  • The new station would use some existing tunneling like the Edge Hill Spur.
  • The new station would connect to the City, Northern and Wirral Lines.
  • The new station would be close to the new Royal Liverpool Hospital.
  • The vision is to have in built in five years.

I talked about Merseyrail’s new trains in Thoughts On Merseyrail’s New Trains.

This Google Map shows the area.

liverpooluniversity

Note.

  • Lime Street station is at the West and Edge Hill station is in the East.
  • The lines into Lime Street are a dark scar between the two stations.
  • The Royal Liverpool Hospital is at the top of the map and I think the triangular site to the East will be Paddington Village with Paddington Square station.

Note that there are three abandoned freight tunnels leading from the Docks to Edge Hill station.

On which one will Paddington Square station be built?

I talked about Merseyrail’s new trains in Thoughts On Merseyrail’s New Trains.

This map from Wikipedia, shows the Loop Line under the Centre of Liverpool.

Liverpool Loop Line

Liverpool Loop Line

Could trains come in from the East and feed into this loop?

At present 12 trains per hour (tph) come in from the Wirral Line  and after stopping at James Street, Moorfields, Lime Street, Central and James Street again, they go back under the Mersey to Birkenhead.

So could trains from Edge Hill join the loop and go through Lime Street, Central and Morrfield stations before going back to Edge Hill?

If the loop was running under Automatic Train Operation (ATO) with the new Stadler trains, I suspect that the Loop could probably handle upwards of the current 12 tph. Perhaps even 24 tph, which could give.

  • 4 tph to Manchester via Warrington
  • 4 tph to Wigan
  • 4 tph to Chester via Runcorn and the Halton Curve.

Or whatever Merseyrail thought was the correct service.

Liverpool would have a unique underground railway.

It could be a superb urban railway, with services to the following destinations, from all stations in the Loop.

  • Chester
  • Ellesmere Port
  • Hunts Cross
  • Kirkby
  • Liverpool Airport
  • Manchester
  • Manchester Airport
  • New Brighton
  • Ormskirk
  • Preston
  • Rock Ferry
  • Southport
  • Warrington
  • Wigan
  • West Kirby
  • Wrexham

Passengers going between say Chester and Wigan would get off at Moorfields and wait for the next Wigan train.

These tunnels were only built in 1977 and the loop is due for updating in the first half of 2017, so at least the tunnellers will know where everything is buried.

One advantage is putting all the suburban services in the basement, is that this would release platforms for services to Glasgow, across the Pennines and for HS2.

It certainly seems to be a project that can be realised.

It is an ambitious project, but then who can forget four lads from Liverpool in the 1960s, who had ambition and just imagined?

January 7, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ticketing In Liverpool And Manchester

On my trip to Wigan, I travelled around Liverpool and Manchester extensively on both days.

Whether the cities like it or not, transport-wise, the whole of Lancashire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester  is one ticketing area.

I bought a Lancashire Day Ranger at £15 on both days. But!

  • That is not expensive for me, but it probably is for others.
  • It doesn’t include Manchester’s or Blackpool’s trams.
  • It doesn’t include the Wirral Line in Liverpool.

Why can’t I just touch in with my contactless bank card, like I can in London?

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Sydney to trial contactless payments on public transport network.

Sydney will be using London’s system, so why can’t Liverpool and Manchester?

December 20, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment