The Anonymous Widower

Possibly One Of The Best Underground Railways In A Smaller City In The World!

I took these pictures, as I took the Wirral Line between James Street and Lime Street stations.

I do compare them with the dingy inside of Essex Road station, which was refurbished by British Rail about the same time.

Merseyrail’s stations and trains are generally immaculate and that can’t be said for the dirty and tired infrastructure on the Northern City Line. As I indicated in the title of this post, t is one of the best underground railways under the centre of a smaller city. Liverpool would probably be regarded as a second size of city as it lacks the several millions of London, Paris or Berlin.

The tunnels of Merseyrail’s Northern and Wirral Lines, would have been probably been used as a model for British Rail’s proposed Picc-Vic Tunnel, that sadly never got to be built!

Manchester would be very different today, if it had an underground railway across the City to the standard of that in Liverpool or Newcastle.

This map clipped from Wikipedia show the proposed route of the Picc-Vic Tunnel.

Some of the other proposals included.

  • The tunnel would be twin bores and jus under three miles long.
  • The tunnel would be electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • The rolling stock would have been Class 316 trains, which would have been similar to those on Merseyrail.
  • Train frequency could have been forty trains per hour (tph)

In some ways the specification was more ambitious than Crossrail, which might be able to handle 30 tph, at some time in the future. But Dear Old Vicky, which was designed at the same time, is now handling forty tph.

Wikipedia says the following routes could have run through the tunnel.

Note.

  1. The Styal Line now provides the link to Manchester Airport.
  2. The route map on the Wikipedia entry, shows only Bury and Bolton as Northern destinations. But surely fanning out the trains could have run to Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Blackpool, Burnley, Clitheroe, Colne, Hebden Bridge, Kirkby, Preston, Rawtenstall, Tochdale, Southport, Stalybridge, Todmorden, Wigan and Windermere

The only problem, I could see would be that there would need to be a lot of electrification North of Manchester, some of which has now been done.

There have also been developments in recent years that would fit nicely with a system of lines running through the Picc-Vic Tunnel.

More Services In Manchester Piccadilly And Manchester Victoria Stations

If you look at Liverpool Lime Street station after the remodelling of the last few years, the station is now ready for High Speed Two.

You could argue, that it would be more ready, if the Wapping Tunnel connected services to and from the East to the Northern Line, as I wrote about in Liverpool’s Forgotten Tunnel, as this would remove a lot of local trains from the station.

The Picc-Vic Tunnel would have done the same thing for Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria stations and removed the local services.

This would have left more space for High Speed Two and other long distance services.

Northern Powerhouse Rail

The original plan also envisaged an East-West Tunnel at a later date. – Northern Powerhouse Rail?

But the creation of capacity by the diversion of local services from Manchester Victoria into the Picc-Vic Tunnel, would surely have enabled the station to be developed thirty years ago as a station on an improved TransPennine route.

Tram-Trains

The system would have accepted tram-trains, which hadn’t been invented in the 1970s.

Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport had only one runway in the 1970s and I think only a few would have believed, it would have expanded like it has.

The Picc-Vic Tunnel would create a superb service to the Airport, at a frequency upwards of six tph.

High Speed Two

The Picc-Vic Tunnel would have created the capacity in  for Manchester Piccadilly station and allowed High Speed Two services to use the station.

In The Rival Plans For Piccadilly Station, That Architects Say Will ‘Save Millions’, I talked about a radical plan for extending Manchester Piccadilly station for High Speed Two, that has been put forward by Weston Williamson; the architects.

This sort of scheme would also fit well with the Picc-Vic Tunnel.

Conclusion

Manchester was short-changed and not building the Picc-Vic Tunnel was a major mistake.

It would have created an underground railway in a similar mould to that of Liverpool’s, but it would probably have served a larger network.

They would probably be the best pair of underground railways for smaller cities in the world.

August 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Beeching Reversal – East Didsbury – Stockport

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

This project has been puzzling me.

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

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

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

This Google Map shows Smethwick Galton Bridge station.

This extract from the Wikipedia entry, describes the station.

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

Note.

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

These pictures show the station.

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

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

These are my thoughts.

The Location

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

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

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

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

Note.

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

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

The Styal Line

The Styal Line has the following characteristics.

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

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

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

Freight trains also use the route.

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

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

The Mid-Cheshire Line

The Mid-Cheshire Line has the following characteristics.

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

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

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

This is the only passenger service that uses the route.

  • 1 tph – Northern – Manchester Piccadilly and Chester

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

The station should be built.

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

Should High Speed Two’s Macclesfield And London Service Call At Birmingham Interchange?

Connecting Manchester City Centre to the High Speed Two network will be a major undertaking.

  • It looks increasingly likely that High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail will have a shared line running from the main High Speed Two route through Crewe to Manchester Piccadilly via Manchester Airport.
  • Between Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly will be in a high speed tunnel.
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail will connect Liverpool Lime Street and Warrington to Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly.
  • There will be a major problem keeping train services running between Manchester and Birmingham, London and the South.

But just at Project Rio kept Manchester connected during the rebuilding of the West Coast Main Line in the early years of this century, I believe that a similar creditable alternative route may be starting to evolve.

Avanti’s Additional Class 807 Trains Will Be Delivered

These trains will allow additional services and release some Class 390 trains to reinforce other services.

Avanti West Coast’s Future West Coast Main Line Service

The small fleet of Class 807 trains are needed to provide extra services on the West Coast Main Line.

  • But if these trains are successful, will more be used as replacements for the nearly twenty-years-old Class 390 trains?
  • Will they also be given more traction power to double as the classic-compatible trains for High Speed Two.
  • Other operators might also like to purchase a high capacity 200 metre long high speed train, which would share routes used by High Speed Two.

In Thoughts On Class 807 Trains And High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible Trains, I discuss the design of extra trains for High Speed Two and the West Coast Main Line.

Surely, though having similar trains handling both roles on the West Coast Main Line and High Speed Two, would be an advantage to Avanti West Coast?

London And Manchester Services

Currently, there are these services between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly stations.

  • Via Milton Keynes Central, Stoke-on-Trent and Stockport
  • Via Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield and Stockport
  • Via Stafford, Crewe, Wilmslow and Stockport

All services have a frequency of one train per hour (tph)

High Speed Two plans to run these services between the South and the Manchester area.

  • 1 tph – 200 metres – London Euston and Wigan North Western via Old Oak Common, Crewe and Warrington Bank Quay
  • 1 tph – 200 metres – London Euston and Macclesfield via Old Oak Common, Stafford and Stoke.
  • 1 tph – 400 metres – London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly via Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange and Manchester Airport
  • 2 tph – 400 metres – London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly via Old Oak Common and Manchester Airport
  • 2 tph – 200 metres – Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester Piccadilly via Manchester Airport
  • 1 tph – 200 metres – Birmingham Curzon Street and Wigan North |Western

Note.

  1. I have included Wigan North Western, as it has good connections to North Manchester.
  2. Services can’t go via Manchester Airport until the tunnel is completed.
  3. The 400 metre services will need to use dedicated High Speed Two tracks, so will need to use the tunnel via Manchester Airport.

Wigan and Macclesfield stations will not be requiring major rebuilding, during the construction of High Speed Two. That should mean the stations will not need to be closed for long periods.

  • Macclesfield station could probably handle up to three tph from the South.
  • Wigan North Western station could probably handle two tph from the South.
  • Work in the Manchester Piccadilly area, may well close the station at times.

I suspect Macclesfield and Wigan North Western could be very useful alternative stations for travelling to and from the South.

Manchester And Birmingham Via Macclesfield

I can see that there could be difficulties for some passengers, if they found themselves at Macclesfield wanting to go to the Birmingham area.

A solution would be for the Macclesfield and London service to stop at Birmingham Interchange, which will be extremely well-connected.

Birmingham Interchange

This map from High Speed Two, shows Birmingham Interchange and Birmingham International stations.

Note.

  • Birmingham Interchange station is marked by the blue dot.
  • Birmingham International station is to the West of the M42.

The two stations will be connected by an automatic people mover.

Destinations and their frequencies available from Birmingham Interchange, when High Speed Two is complete will include.

  • 2 tph – Birmingham Curzon Street
  • 1 tph – Carlisle
  • 1 tph – East Midlands Hub
  • 1 tph – Edinburgh Haymarket
  • 1 tph – Edinburgh Waverley
  • 1 tph – Glasgow Central
  • 1 tph – Leeds
  • 5 tph – London Euston
  • 1 tph – Manchester Airport
  • 1 tph – Manchester Piccadilly
  • 5 tph – Old Oak Common
  • 1 tph – Preston

It looks like if you miss your train to many important cities at Birmingham Interchange, it will be an hour to wait for the next train.

Destinations and their frequencies available from Birmingham International are currently.

  • 8 tph – Birmingham New Street
  • 1 tph – Bournemouth
  • 1 tph – Crewe
  • 0.5 tph to Edinburgh Waverley
  • 0.5 tph to Glasgow Central
  • 7 tph – London Euston
  • 1 tph – Macclesfield
  • 1 tph – Manchester Piccadilly
  • 1 tph – Reading
  • 1 tph – Shrewsbury
  • 1 tph – Southampton
  • 1 tph – Stafford
  • 1 tph – Stoke-on-Trent
  • 2 tph – Wolverhampton

Note that 0.5 tph is one train per two hours.

These two lists can be combined.

  • 10 tph – Birmingham Curzon Street/New Street
  • 1 tph – Bournemouth
  • 2 tph – Carlisle
  • 1 tph – Crewe
  • 1 tph – East Midlands Hub
  • 1.5 tph – Edinburgh Haymarket
  • 1.5 tph – Edinburgh Waverley
  • 1.5 tph – Glasgow Central
  • 1 tph – Leeds
  • 12 tph – London Euston
  • 1 tph – Macclesfield
  • 1 tph – Manchester Airport
  • 2 tph – Manchester Piccadilly
  • 5 tph – Old Oak Common
  • 1 tph – Preston
  • 1 tph – Reading
  • 1 tph – Shrewsbury
  • 1 tph – Southampton
  • 1 tph – Stafford
  • 1 tph – Stoke-on-Trent
  • 2 tph – Wolverhampton

This list is surely missing Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, Sheffield and Newcastle.

Conclusion

We should not underestimate the importance of Macclesfield and Wigan North Western stations in getting to and from Manchester during the building of High Speed Two.

July 15, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Electrifying Wales

I would not be surprised to learn that Wales wants to decarbonise their railways.

At present, Wales only has the following electrified railways either in operation or under construction.

  • The South Wales Main Line between the Severn Tunnel and Cardiff.
  • The South Wales Metro based on local railways around Cardiff and Newport is being created and will be run by electric trains.

There is no more electrification planned in the future.

Hitachi’s Specification For Battery Electric Trains

Recently, Hitachi have released this infographic for their Regional Battery Train.

This gives all the information about the train and a definitive range of 90 km or 56 miles.

The Welsh Rail Network

If you look at the network of services that are run by Transport for Wales Rail Services, they connect a series of hub stations.

Major hubs include the following stations.

  • Cardiff Central – Electrified
  • Chester
  • Hereford
  • Shrewsbury
  • Swansea

Smaller hubs and termini include the following stations.

  • Aberystwyth
  • Birmingham International – Electrified
  • Birmingham New Street – Electrified
  • Blaenau Ffestiniog
  • Carmarthen
  • Crewe – Electrified
  • Fishguard Harbour
  • Hereford
  • Holyhead
  • Llandudno Junction
  • Manchester Airport – Electrified
  • Manchester Piccadilly – Electrified
  • Machynlleth
  • Milford Haven
  • Newport – Electrified
  • Pembroke Dock

Running Welsh Routes With Electric Trains

These routes make up the Welsh rail network.

Chester And Crewe

Consider.

  • The route between Chester and Crewe is without electrification.
  • Crewe and Chester are 21 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Chester and Crewe with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Crewe stations.

Chester And Holyhead via Llandudno Junction

Consider.

  • All services between Llandudno Junction and England call at Chester.
  • All services running to and from Holyhead call at Llandudno Junction.
  • The route between Chester and Holyhead is without electrification.
  • Chester and Llandudno Junction are 54 miles apart.
  • Llandudno Junction and Holyhead are 40 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles can leave Chester, Llandudno Junction and Holyhead with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Holyhead stations.

Chester And Liverpool Lime Street

Consider.

  • The route between Runcorn and Liverpool Lime Street is electrified.
  • The route between Chester and Runcorn is without electrification.
  • Chester and Runcorn are 14 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Chester and Runcorn with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Liverpool Lime Street stations.

Chester And Manchester Airport

Consider.

  • The route between Warrington Bank Quay and Manchester Airport is electrified.
  • The route between Chester and Warrington Bank Quay is without electrification.
  • Chester and Warrington Bank Quay are 18 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Chester and Warrington Bank Quay with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Manchester Airport stations.

Chester And Shrewsbury

Consider.

  • The route between Chester and Shrewsbury is without electrification.
  • Chester and Shrewsbury are 42 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury and Chester with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Shrewsbury stations.

Llandudno And Blaenau Ffestiniog

Consider.

  • The route between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog is without electrification.
  • Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog are 31 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, can leave Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog stations.

Machynlleth And Aberystwyth

Consider.

  • The route between Machynlleth and Aberystwyth is without electrification.
  • Machynlleth and Aberystwyth are 21 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, can leave Machynlleth and Aberystwyth with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Machynlleth and Aberystwyth stations.

Machynlleth And Pwllheli

Consider.

  • The route between Machynlleth and Pwllheli is without electrification.
  • Machynlleth and Pwllheli are 58 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of upwards of 58 miles, can leave Machynlleth and Pwllheli with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Machynlleth and Pwllheli stations.

Machynlleth And Shrewsbury

Consider.

  • The route between Machynlleth and Shrewsbury is without electrification.
  • Machynlleth and Shrewsbury are 61 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of upwards of 61 miles, can leave Machynlleth and Shrewsbury with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Machynlleth and Shrewsbury stations.

Shrewsbury and Birmingham International

Consider.

  • The route between Birmingham International and Wolverhampton is electrified.
  • The route between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton are 30 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International stations.

 Shrewsbury And Cardiff Central via Hereford

Consider.

  • All services between Cardiff Central and Shrewsbury call at Hereford.
  • The route between Cardiff Central and Newport is electrified.
  • The route between Newport and Shrewsbury is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Hereford are 51 miles apart.
  • Hereford and Newport are 44 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury, Hereford and Newport with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Cardiff Central stations.

Shrewsbury And Crewe

  • The route between Shrewsbury and Crewe is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Crewe are 33 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of upwards of 61 miles, can leave Shrewsbury and Crewe with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Crewe stations.

Shrewsbury and Swansea

Consider.

  • The Heart of Wales Line between Shrewsbury and Swansea is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Swansea are 122 miles apart.
  • Trains cross at Llandrindod and wait for up to eleven minutes, so there could be time for a charge.
  • Shrewsbury and Llandrindod are 52 miles apart.
  • Swansea and Llandrindod are 70 miles apart.

It appears that another charging station between Swansea and Llandrindod is needed

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury, Swansea and the other charging station, with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Swansea stations.

Swansea And Cardiff Central

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Cardiff Central is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Cardiff Central are 46 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea and Cardiff Central with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Cardiff Central stations.

Swansea And Carmarthen

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Carmarthen is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea and Carmarthen with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Carmarthen stations.

Swansea And Fishguard Harbour

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Fishguard Harbour is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Fishguard Harbour are 73 miles apart.
  • Tramins could top up the batteries during the reverse at Carmathen.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.
  • Carmarthen and Fishguard Harbour are 42 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea, Carmathen and Fishguard Harbour with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Fishguard Harbour stations.

Swansea And Milford Haven

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Milford Haven is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Milford Haven are 72 miles apart.
  • Tramins could top up the batteries during the reverse at Carmathen.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.
  • Carmarthen and Milford Haven are 41 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea, Carmathen and Milford Haven with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Milford Haven stations.

Swansea And Pembroke Dock

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Pembroke Dock is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Pembroke Dock are 73 miles apart.
  • Tramins could top up the batteries during the reverse at Carmathen.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.
  • Carmarthen and Pembroke Dock are 42 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea, Carmathen and Pembroke Dock with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Pembroke Dock stations.

Other Routes

I have not covered these routes.

  • Borderlands Line
  • Cardiff Valley Lines, that will be part of the South Wales Metro
  • Routes on the electrified South Wales Main Line, that are to the East of Cardiff.

The first will run between Chester and the electrified Merseyrail system and the others will be electrified, except for short stretches.

Stations Where Trains Would Be Charged

These stations will need charging facilities.

Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth station only has a single terminal platform.

I’ve not been to the station, but looking at pictures on the Internet, I suspect that fitting a charging facility into the station, wouldn’t be the most difficult of engineering problems.

Birmingham International

Birmingham International station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Blaenau Fflestiniog

Blaenau Ffestiniog station has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Cardiff

Cardiff station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Chester

Chester station has two through platforms and one bay platform, that are used by Trains for Wales.

  • The through platforms are bi-directional.
  • The bay platform is used by services from Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport and Piccadilly.
  • The station is a terminus for Merseyrail’s electric trains, which use 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • Some through services stop for up to seven minutes in the station.

This Google Map shows the station.

There is plenty of space.

The simplest way to charge trains at Chester would be to electrify the two through platforms 3 and 4 and the bay platform 1.

I would use 750 VDC third-rail, rather than 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

  • I’m an engineer, who deals in scientifically-correct solutions, not politically-correct ones, devised by jobsworths.
  • Maintenance staff at the station will be familiar with the technology.
  • Station staff and passengers will know about the dangers of third-rail electrification.
  • Trains connect and disconnect automatically to third-rail electrification.
  • Trains don’t have to stop to connect and disconnect, so passing trains can be topped-up.
  • Hitachi with the Class 395 train and Alstom with the Class 373 train, have shown even trains capable of 140 mph can be fitted with third-rail shoes to work safely at slower speeds on lines electrified using third-rail.
  • Modern control systems can control the electricity to the third-rail, so it is only switched on, when the train completes the circuit.

I have a vague recollection, that there is an avoiding line at Chester station, so trains can go straight through. Perhaps that should be electrified too.

Carmarthen

Carmarthen station is a two platform station, with a rather unusual layout, that I wrote about in Changing Trains At Carmarthen Station.

I took these pictures when I passed through in 2016.

Note the unusual step-free crossing of the tracks.

This Google Map shows the layout at the station.

I believe it is another station, where third-rail electrification could be the solution.

  • Most trains seem to reverse at the station, which gives time for a full charge.
  • Others terminate here.

but would they still allow passengers to cross the line as they do now, whilst trains are being charged?

Crewe

Crewe station is fully-electrified.

  • Trains for Wales seem to use Platform 6 for through trains and the bay Platform 9 for terminating trains.
  • Both platforms appear to be electrified.
  • Terminating trains appear to wait at least 9-11 minutes before leaving.

It does appear that Crewe station is ready for battery-electric trains.

Fishguard Harbour

Fishguard Harbour station only has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Hereford

Hereford station has four through platforms.

This Google Map shows the station.

There is plenty of space.

As with Chester, I would electrify this station with 750 VDC third-rail equipment.

But the electrification wouldn’t be just for train services in Wales.

  • West Midlands Trains, run an hourly service to Birmingham New Street and there is only a forty-one mile gap in the electrification between Hereford and Bromsgrove.
  • Great Western Railway’s service to London, has a massive ninety-six mile run to the electrification at Didcot Junction, which could be bridged by installing charging facilities at Worcestershire Parkway and/or Honeybourne stations.

Both services have generous turnround times at Hereford, so would be able to leave fully-charged.

Distances from Hereford station are as follows.

  • Abergavenny – 24 miles
  • Bromsgrove – 41 miles
  • Great Malvern – 21 miles
  • Honeybourne – 48 miles
  • Ludlow – 13 miles
  • Newport – 44 miles
  • Shrewsbury – 51 miles
  • Worcester Parkway – 33 miles

Hereford station could be a serious battery-electric train hub.

Holyhead

Holyhead station has three terminals platforms.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Liverpool Lime Street

Liverpool Lime Street station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Llandrindod

Llandrindod station has two through platforms.

I took these pictures at the station as I passed through in 2016.

The Heart of Wales Line is certainly a route, that would benefit from larger trains. Zero-carbon battery-electric trains would surely fit well in the area.

This Google Map shows the station.

It would appear that, it is another station, that could be fitted with third-rail electrification to charge the trains.

Distances from Llandrindod station are as follows.

  • Shrewsbury – 52 miles
  • Llandovery – 27 miles
  • Llanelli – 59 miles
  • Swansea – 70 miles

It would appear that a second station with charging facilities or bigger batteries are needed.

Llandudno Junction

Llandudno Junction station has four platforms.

This Google Map shows the station.

There is plenty of space.

As at Chester, the simple solution would be to electrify the platforms used by trains, that will need charging.

Butb there may also be a wider plan.

Llandudno Junction station is at the Western end of a string of five closely-spaced stations with Prestatyn station in the East.

  • Llandudno Junction and Prestatyn are eight miles apart.
  • Trains take twenty-three minutes to pass through this section.
  • Some trains do a detour to Llandudno station before continuing.
  • For part of the route, the railway lies between the dual-carriageway A55 road and the sea.

So why not electrify this section of railway between Llandudno Junction and Prestatyn stations?

  • Either 750 VDC this-rail or 25 KVAC overhead electrification could be used.
  • Prestatyn and Chester are 46 miles apart.
  • Llandudno Junction and Holyhead are 40 miles apart.

If third-rail electrification were to be used, it might be advantageous to electrify to Llandudno station.

  • It would be less intrusive.
  • It would be quieter in an urban area.
  • It would give the trains to Blaenau Ffestiniog trains a good charge.

But above all third-rail electrification might cost a bit less and cause less disruption to install.

Machynlleth

Machynlleth station is where the Aberystwyth and Pwllheli services split and join.

This Google Map shows the station.

Consider.

  • There is a train depot by the station.
  • Will there be a good power supply at the station to charge the trains?
  • Machnylleth and Pwllhelli are 58 miles apart.
  • Machynlleth and Shrewsbury are 61 miles apart.

I think that Machynlleth might be pushing things too far, without extra stations with charging facilities.

One solution might be to develop the Riding Sunbeams concept and electrify the route between Newtown and Dovey Junction via Machynlleth, using third-rail technology powered-by solar or wind power.

Another solution would be batteries with a larger capacity.

Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Manchester Piccadilly

Manchester Piccadilly station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Milford Haven

Milford Haven station only has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Pembroke Dock

Pembroke Dock station only has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Pwllheli

Pwhelli station is a only has a single terminal platform.

This Google Map shows the location of the station.

The stsation is at the North West corner of the bay.

My first reaction, when I saw this was that I have to go.

So I took a closer look at the station instead.

I suspect that fitting a charging facility into the station, wouldn’t be the most difficult of engineering problems. Although, there might be a problem getting a good enough connection to the National Grid.

Shewsbury

Shrewsbury station is a five-platform station.

This Google Map shows the station’s unusual location over the River Severn.

It must be one of few stations in the world, where trains enter the station from three different directions.

  • From Crewe and Chester to the North.
  • From Hereford and Wales to the South.
  • From Birmingham and Wolverhampton in the East.

Adding electrification to all or selected platforms should allow trains to recharge and be on their way.

  • Under current timetables, dwell times in Shrewsbury are up to eight minutes.
  • I would suspect the train times could be adjusted, so that trains left the station with full batteries.

With battery-electric services to Aberystwyth, Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street, Cardiff Central, Chester, Crewe, Hereford, Holyhead, London Euston, Manchester, Pwllheli and Swansea, it will be a very important station.

Swansea

Swansea station has four terminal platforms.

A charging facility could be added to an appropriate number of platforms.

Or perhaps, the last few miles of track into the station should be electrified, so trains could charge on the way in, charge in the station and charge on the way out.

Third Rail Electrification

I have suggested in this post, that 750 VDC third-rail electrification could be used in several places.

I will repeat what I said earlier, when discussing Chester station.

  • I’m an engineer, who deals in scientifically-correct solutions, not politically-correct ones, devised by jobsworths.
  • Maintenance staff at the station will be familiar with the technology.
  • Station staff and passengers will know about the dangers of third-rail electrification.
  • Trains connect and disconnect automatically to third-rail electrification.
  • Trains don’t have to stop to connect and disconnect, so passing trains can be topped-up.
  • Hitachi with the Class 395 train and Alstom with the Class 373 train, have shown even trains capable of 140 mph can be fitted with third-rail shoes to work safely at slower speeds on lines electrified using third-rail.
  • Modern control systems can control the electricity to the third-rail, so it is only switched on, when the train completes the circuit.

Third-rail electrification should be seriously considered.

A Standardised Terminal Solution

In this post, I mentioned that the following stations could be powered by a scandalised solution, as they are all one platform, terminal stations.

  • Aberystwyth
  • Blaenau Ffestiniog
  • Fishguard Harbour
  • Holyhead
  • Milford Haven
  • Pembroke Dock
  • Pwllheli

The system might also be applicable at Carmarthen and Swansea.

My view is that Vivarail’s Fast Track charging based on third-rail technology would be ideal. I discussed this technology in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

Conclusion

With a bit of ingenuity, all train services run by Transport for Wales, can be run with battery-electric trains.

 

July 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Rival Plans For Piccadilly Station, That Architects Say Will ‘Save Millions’

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Manchester Evening News.

This subtitle introduces the idea.

The speculative proposal includes a new underground HS2 station and an ‘s-shaped tunnel’ under the city centre.

The architects are Weston Williamson and I have felt for years that this was the best way and I put my ideas and some fragments from the press and Northern Powerhouse Rail in Manchester Piccadilly ‘Super Hub’ Proposed.

This picture from Weston Williamson, shows their proposed station.

Note.

  1. In the visualisation, you are observing the station from the East.
  2. The existing railway lines into Piccadilly station are shown in red.
  3. Stockport and Manchester Airport are to the left, which is to the South.
  4. Note the dreaded Castlefield Corridor in red going off into the distance to Oxford Road and Deansgate stations.
  5. The new high speed lines are shown in blue.
  6. To the left they go to Manchester Airport and then on to London, Birmingham and the South, Warrington and Liverpool and Wigan, Preston, Blackpool, Barroe-in-Furness, the North and Scotland.
  7. To the right, they go to Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds, Hull and the North East, and Sheffield, Doncaster and the East.
  8. Between it looks like  a low-level High Speed station with at least four tracks and six platforms.
  9. The Manchester Mretrolink is shown in yellow.
  10. The potential for over-site development is immense. If the Station Square Tower was residential, the penthouses would be some of the most desirable places to live in the North.

This Google Map shows the current station.

Unfortunately, the map is round the other way to the visualisation, but I hope you can see how the shape of the current station is intact and can be picked out in both.

If you’ve ever used London Paddington station in the last few years, you will know that Crossrail is being built underneath. But the massive construction project of building the Crossrail platforms has not inconvenienced the normal business of the station.

Weston Williamson’s proposed station can be built in the same way.

It could be truly transformational

  • Manchester Piccadilly station would have at least 43 percent more platforms.
  • Classic-compatible High Speed commuter trains would run to Barrow, Blackpool, Chester, Derby, Nottingham and Shrewsbury from the low-level High Speed station.
  • The Northern Powerhouse Rail for all TransPennine Express services would use the low-level High Speed station.
  • Glasgow services would use the low-level High Speed station.
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport would have up to 18 high speed trains per hour and would be the finest airport service in the world.
  • Some or all of the low-level High Speed platforms, would be able to take 400 metre long trains.
  • 400 metre long platforms could handle one 200 metre long train from Manchester Airport and one 200 metre long train from Yorkshire.
  • The Castlefield Corridor would only have local trains, limited to a number, with which it could cope.
  • The use of the existing platforms would be reorganised.

It would be a massive increase in the capacity of the station and as been shown at Paddington with Crossrail, I am sure, that it could be built without massive disruption to existing services.

The Ultimate Train To The North

Imagine a pair of 200 metre long classic-compatible trains running between London Euston and Leeds.

  • They would travel via Birmingham Interchange, Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield and Bradford.
  • The trains would divide at Leeds.
  • One train would go to Hull.
  • The second train would go to York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle. It could be extended to Edinburgh.
  • It could even run with a Turn-Up-And-Go frequency of four tph.

Why not?

 

 

June 30, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Could The Crewe And Derby Line Become A Much More Important Route?

On the Midlands Connect web site, they have a page, which is entitled Derby-Stoke-Crewe.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Our plans have the potential to increase passenger demand on the corridor by 72%, with faster, more frequent services.

They then give the outline of their plans, which can be summed up as follows.

  • Currently, the service is one train per hour (tph) and it takes 79 minutes.
  • The service frequency will go to two tph.
  • Twenty minutes could be saved on the second service by adjusting calling patterns.
  • Improved links at Crewe for High Speed Two. This must have been written before Stafford and Stoke got the High Speed Two service to Macclesfield.
  • East Midlands Railway are planning to extend the current Crewe and Derby service to Nottingham.

It seems a safe, and not overly ambitious plan.

These are my thoughts.

The Route

I have flown my virtual helicopter along the route and it appears to be double track all the way, except for a three mile section to the East of Crewe, that British Rail reduced to single track

However, in recent years the A5020 was built under the railway and the new bridge appears to have space for the second track to be restored, as this Google Map shows.

Note.

  1. The single track appears to be electrified, from the shadows of the gantries at either end of the bridge.
  2. West Midlands Trains appear to run an electric service between Crewe and Stafford on this route.
  3. I suspect it’s also used as a diversion route for Avanti West Coast’s Manchester service via Stoke-on-Trent or for train positioning.

Will this route allow High Speed Two trains to run between Stoke-on-Trent and Manchester Piccadilly?

From picture and comments in a rail forum, I suspect that the route could be redoubled fairly easily.

  • The electrification runs for about 15.5 miles, between Crewe station and Stoke Junction, which is about half-a-mile on the other side of Stoke-on-Trent station.
  • Trains seem to be connected to the electrification for over twenty minutes, so it could be useful for charging a battery train, running between Stoke-n-Trent and Crewe stations.

This Google Map shows Stoke Junction.

Note,

  1. Stoke-on-Trent station is to the North.
  2. The electrified railway going due South is the West Coast Main Line to Stone and Stafford stations.
  3. The line without electrification going off in a more South-Easterly direction is the line to Uttoxeter and Derby.

Following the route between Derby and Crewe, these are my observations.

  • There is a level crossing at Blythe Bridge station.
  • Most of the bridges over the route are modern, so I suspect will accept electrification.
  • The route would appear to have a speed limit of 70 mph, but I would suspect that this could be increased somewhat as it doesn’t look too challenging.
  • The route is 51 miles long, so a service that takes the current 79 minutes with nine stops, would average 38.7 mph.
  • The proposed time of 59 minutes, would average 51.8 mph

I suspect there could be more to come, as the timetable is probably written for a Class 153 train.

A Crewe And Nottingham Service

The Midlands Connect plan says the service will be the following.

  • Two tph
  • A slow train in 79 minutes.
  • A fast train in 59 minutes.
  • East Midlands Railway want to extend services to Nottingham.

It could be a fairly simple easy-to-use timetable.

Fast Trains

Consider.

  • Derby and Nottingham are 16 miles apart and fastest trains take between 19-22 minutes between the two cities.
  • When it opens, all trains would stop at East Midlands Hub station between Nottingham and Derby.
  • East Midlands Railway have a fleet that will include forty Class 170 trains.
  • I suspect that these 100 mph trains will be able to run between Crewe and Nottingham including the turnround in under 90 minutes.

This would mean that a fast hourly service would need three trains.

Slow Trains

Consider.

  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see the slower services continuing as now and not extending to Nottingham.
  • 79 minutes is probably a convenient time, which would give a ninety minute time for each leg between Derby and Crewe, when turnround is included.
  • Trains would be more of the Class 170 trains.

This would mean that a slow hourly service would need three trains.

Could Battery Electric Trains Be Used?

Consider.

  • I think it is likely that the route between Derby and East Midlands Parkway via East Midlands Hub station, will be electrified, in conjunction with Midland Main Line electrification.
  • Between Derby and Long Eaton stations via East Midlands Hub station is just under ten miles and takes ten minutes.
  • Nottingham and Crewe is 66 miles of which 25 miles in total could be electrified.
  • Derby and Crewe is 51 miles of which 15 miles are electrified.
  • The longest section without electrification is between Derby station and Stoke Junction, which is 35.5 miles.

Batteries would be charged in the following places.

  • Between Long Eaton and Derby stations.
  • During turnround at a fully-electrified Derby station.
  • Between Stoke-on-Trent and Crewe stations.
  • During turnround at a fully-electrified Crewe station.

That’s a lot better than with an electric car.

In Sparking A Revolution, I quoted this Hitachi-specification for a battery-electric train.

  • Range – 55-65 miles
  • Performance – 90-100 mph
  • Recharge – 10 minutes when static
  • Routes – Suburban near electrified lines
  • Battery Life – 8-10 years

I can’t see any problem with one of these trains or other battery-electric trains with a similar performance, running between Crewe and Nottingham or Derby via Stoke.

Could Hydrogen-Powered Trains Be Used?

I would suspect so, as the Alsthom Coradia iLint runs a similar route in Germany.

Connections To High Speed Two

Midlands Connect noted the route’s link to High Speed Two at Crewe.

But it also has other links to High Speed Two at Stoke-on-Trent and East Midlands Hub stations.

I suspect some stations like Uttoxeter or Alsager will have a choice of fast routes to London or Scotland.

Could Services Be Extended From Crewe?

In Connecting The Powerhouses, I talked about an article in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which proposed reopening the Midland Railway route between Derby and Manchester.

Some passengers and commentators fell a direct fast link is needed.

When High Speed Two is completed, the main route into Manchester Piccadilly will be a high speed spur from Crewe via Manchester Airport. Current plans include the following services.

  • One tph from London Euston via Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange.
  • Two tph from London Euston via Old Oak Common
  • Two tph from Birmingham Curzon Street

Note.

  1. All services will call at Manchester Airport.
  2. It is likely that Northern Powerhouse Rail will add six tph to Manchester Piccadilly from Liverpool via Warrington.
  3. Some services will extend through Manchester Piccadilly to Bradford, Doncaster, Huddersfield, Hull, Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield and York.
  4. High Speed lines will probably have a capacity of up to eighteen tph.

The Birmingham Curzon Street, Liverpool and London Euston services would be eleven tph, so there would be more than enough capacity for an hourly train from Nottingham.

What would the service be like?

  • It would be between Nottingham and Manchester Piccadilly stations.
  • It could call at East Midlands Hub, Derby, Uttoxeter, Stoke-on-Trent, Kidsgrove, Crewe and Manchester Airport stations.
  • It would probably be hourly.

Timings could be as follows.

  • Nottingham and Manchester Airport – 87 minutes
  • Nottingham and Manchester Piccadilly – 91 minutes
  • Derby and Manchester Airport – 67 minutes
  • Derby and Manchester Piccadilly – 71 minutes
  • Stoke-on-Trent and Manchester Airport – 32 minutes
  • Stoke-on-Trent and Manchester Piccadilly – 36 minutes

The trains used on this and other local services that might need to use High Speed Two infrastructure would be performing a similar role as that of the Class 395 trains on High Speed One.

Possibilities must include.

  • A classic-compatible High Speed Two train.
  • A five-car AT-300 train, like East Midlands Railway’s Class 810 trains.
  • An updated Class 395 train.

All trains would need a battery capability with a range of 40 miles.

It should also be noted that in Options For High Speed To Hastings, I worked through the options needed to run high speed commuter services to Hastings.

This was the last sentence in that post.

It’s all about selling trains and a company that had a 140 mph or 225 kph high-speed electric train, that could do perhaps 25 miles or 40 kilometres on batteries, would have a valuable addition to their product range.

A train with a range of 50 miles on battery power, would be suitable for the following routes.

  • London St. Pancras and Hastings via Ashford International.
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Nottingham via Manchester Airport, Crewe, Derby and East Midlands Hub.
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Barrow-in-Furness via Manchester Airport, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston and Lancaster.
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Chester via Manchester Airport and Crewe.
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Shrewsbury via Manchester Airport and Crewe.

Charging might be needed at some of the terminal stations.

 

June 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

High Speed Two To The North West Of England

This map clipped from the High Speed Two web site, shows High Speed Two routes in the North West of England.

Note.

  1. When shown in orange, High Speed Two will use new tracks.
  2. When shown in blue, High Speed Two will use existing tracks.
  3. New stations are shown as large blue dots.
  4. High Speed Two and the West Coast Main Line appear to share a corridor through Crewe, before dividing near Walley’s Green.
  5. High Speed Two loops to the East of the West Coast Main Line and rejoins it South of Wigan between Bryn Gates and Abram Brow.

The route will or might serve the following stations in North West England.

Blackpool North

Blackpool North station is not planned to be served by High Speed Two.

But the station has been recently rebuilt.

  • It has a number of platforms, that are capable of handling 200 metre long classic-compatible High Speed Two trains.
  • The route to High Speed Two at Preston is fully electrified.
  • In a couple of years, it will be connected to Blackpool’s expanding tramway.
  • Blackpool would welcome High Speed Two with open arms.

Blackpool North  would be an ideal extra destination, if more trains were to be split and joined at Crewe.

But whatever happens, I believe that high speed commuter trains will run from Blackpool North.

  • Blackpool and Manchester Piccadilly via Preston, Wigan North Western, Warrington Bank Quay and Manchester Airport.
  • Blackpool and Derby via Preston, Wigan North Western, Warrington Bank Quay, Crewe and Stoke-on-Trent.

Blackpool North has the platforms and electrification and it will be used.

Carlisle

Carlisle station is a through station on the current Glasgow service and can handle a nine-car Class 390 train which is over 210 metres long, which means they can handle a 200 metre long, classic-compatible High Speed Two train.

But two tph will be 400 metre London Euston and Edinburgh/Glasgow trains, so platform lengthening will probably be required.

There will be the following trains.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Carlisle – I tph – 118 minutes
  • London Euston and Carlisle – 2 tph – 154 minutes.

After any necessary platform lengthening, Carlisle will be ready  and waiting for High Speed Two and will be reached in Phase 1 of the project.

The High Speed Two web site, says Carlisle will be reached in Phase 2b, but as Edinburgh and Glasgow are part of Phase 1, this must be a mistake.

Crewe

Crewe station is at the bottom of the map, just to the right of centre.

The station gets this introduction on this page of the High Speed Two web site.

HS2 services will call at Crewe, where passengers will be able to access the high speed network heading south. Journey times to London will be cut to under an hour. Macclesfield, Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent will also receive HS2 services, spreading the benefits of better connectivity.

The page also says that between five and seven trains per hour (tph) will call at Crewe.

Lancaster

Lancaster station is a through station on the current Glasgow service and can handle a nine-car Class 390 train which is over 210 metres long, which means they can handle a 200 metre long, classic-compatible High Speed Two train.

Lancaster will also be a terminus of 200 metre long classic-compatible High peed Two train from London Euston, so there may need to be refurbishment to handle the larger, if not longer train.

The use of Lancaster as a terminus, would appear to have the following advantages.

  • The platform is already there.
  • Using Lancaster as a terminal, may reduce the scope of works at Carlisle and Preston.
  • The one tph service from London Euston is effectively a High Speed Northern stopper between Lancaster and Crewe, with calls at Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western and Preston stations.
  • Lancaster has connections to Barrow-in-Furness, Heysham Port and Morecambe and the scenic Cumbrian Coast and Settle-Carlisle Lines.
  • Paces like Barrow-in-Furness. Morecambe and a host of other stations, should save forty-three minutes on journeys to and from London.

I think that Lancaster, is a good place to terminate a service in the North-West of England.

There will be the following trains.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Lancaster – I tph – 65 minutes
  • London Euston and Lancaster – 1 tph – 101 minutes.

After the necessary refurbishment, Lancaster will be ready  and waiting for High Speed Two and will be reached in Phase 2b of the project.

But I do feel that Lancaster could be reached in Phase 1 of the project, if necessary works North of Preston and at Lancaster station were planned as an independent project.

Liverpool Lime Street

Liverpool Lime Street station is at the Western edge of the map, at the end of the Liverpool Branch of the West Coast Main Line.

Liverpool gets this headline and brief description on this page of the High Speed Two web site.

The City Region Wants To Deliver a World Class Transport Network

Its ambitious plans would integrate the existing HS2 route and builds on the Northern Powerhouse Rail proposals for high speed, east-west links directly into Liverpool City Centre.

Liverpool has made a good start to prepare for High Speed Two.

  • The Grade II Listed; Lime Street station now has lengthened platforms and an improved layout so that it can handle two 200 metre long High Speed Two trains per hour.
  • Merseyrail is taking delivery of a fleet of new Class 777 trains to update their suburban network.
  • By the time High Speed Two arrives in the city, the suburban network will be larger.

Liverpool is ready and waiting for High Speed Two and will be reached in Phase 1 of the project.

Macclesfield

Macclesfield station is at the Eastern edge of the map, at the end of its own leg of High Speed Two.

The station was the surprise destination added, during the last iteration of High Speed Two.

  • The late, great Brian Redhead, who lived in the town would be very pleased.
  • The station was rebuilt in 1960 and has three platforms.
  • It is planned to have one tph to London Euston via Stoke-on-Trent, Stafford and Old Oak Common.
  • The visualisation on this page of the High Speed Two web site, also shows three platforms, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a fourth added, as the extra platform would add flexibility.

The second surprise for Macclesfield, is that like Liverpool, it will be reached in Phase 1 of the project.

Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport station is the Southern large blue dot at the top of the map.

This page on the High Speed Two web site is rather sparse on information about Manchester Airport station.

I have combined train times given on the web page, with frequencies from an article in the June 2020 Edition of Modern Railways to create this table, which should be valid after the completion of High Speed Two.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester Airport – 2 tph – 32 minutes
  • Birmingham Interchange and Manchester Airport – 1 tph – 29 minutes
  • London Euston and Manchester Airport – 3 tph – 63 minutes
  • London Old Oak Common and Manchester Airport – 3 tph – 56 minutes
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport – 5 tph – 6 minutes

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, I stated that Northern Powerhouse Rail were proposing the following Liverpool and Manchester service.

Manchester Airport station will be reached in Phase 2b of the project.

  • Six tph
  • Stops at Manchester Airport and Warrington.
  • An end-to-end journey time of 26 minutes.

This would do the following.

  • Add a Liverpool and Manchester Airport service with a frequency of 6 tph, that will take 20 minutes.
  • Add a Warrington Parkway and Manchester Airport service with a frequency of 6 tph that will take around 10 minutes.
  • Increase the frequency between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport to 11 tph. Or more likely 12 tph.

How many cities have an airport connection running every five minutes using trains running at 125 mph?

As these Liverpool and Manchester services would probably start in places like Hull and Newcastle and come via varied routes that included a selection of Bradford, Doncaster Huddersfield, Leeds and Sheffield, all of the North, that lies to the East of the Pennines will be connected to Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Airport and Liverpool by high speed trains.

Manchester Piccadilly

Manchester Piccadilly station is the Northern large blue dot at the top of the map.

This page on the High Speed Two web site is rather sparse on information about Manchester Piccadilly station.

Using the same data as before I can create a table of services from Manchester Piccadilly station, where I have included Liverpool and Manchester services, that will be run by Northern Powerhouse Rail.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street – 2 tph – 40 minutes
  • Birmingham Interchange – 1 tph – 37 minutes
  • London Euston – 3 tph – 67 minutes
  • London Old Oak Common – 3 tph – 60 minutes
  • Manchester Airport – 12 tph – 6 minutes
  • Liverpool – 6 tph – 26 minutes

Manchester Piccadilly station will be reached in Phase 2b of the project.

Oxenholme Lake District

Oxenholme Lake District station is a through station on the current Glasgow service and can handle a nine-car Class 390 train which is over 210 metres long, which means they can handle a 200 metre long, classic-compatible High Speed Two train.

There will be the following trains.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Oxenholm Lake District – I tph – 79 minutes
  • London Euston and Oxenholme Lake District – 115 minutes – Change at Preston

Oxenholme Lake District is ready  and waiting for High Speed Two and will be reached in Phase 2b of the project.

But I do feel that Oxenholme Lake Districtcould be reached in Phase 1 of the project, if necessary works North of Preston and at Lancaster station were planned as an independent project

Penrith North Lakes

Penrith North Lakes station is a through station on the current Glasgow service and can handle a nine-car Class 390 train which is over 210 metres long, which means they can handle a 200 metre long, classic-compatible High Speed Two train.

There will be the following trains.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Penrith North Lakes – I tph – 102 minutes
  • London Euston and Penrith North Lakes – 138 minutes – Change at Preston

Penrith North Lakes is ready  and waiting for High Speed Two and will be reached in Phase 2b of the project.

But I do feel that Penrith North Lakes could be reached in Phase 1 of the project, if necessary works North of Preston and at Lancaster station were planned as an independent project

Preston

Preston station is a through station on the current Glasgow service and can handle a nine-car Class 390 train which is over 210 metres long, which means they can handle a 200 metre long, classic-compatible High Speed Two train.

But two tph will be 400 metre London Euston and Edinburgh/Glasgow trains, so platform lengthening will probably be required.

There will be the following trains.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Preston – I tph – 50 minutes
  • London Euston and Preston – 3 tph – 78 minutes.

After any necessary platform lengthening, Preston will be ready  and waiting for High Speed Two and will be reached in Phase 1 of the project.

Runcorn

Runcorn station is a through station on the Liverpool service and can handle a nine-car Class 390 train which is over 210 metres long, which means they can handle a 200 metre long, classic-compatible High Speed Two train.

There will be two tph between London Euston and Runcorn and trains will take 74 minutes.

Runcorn is ready  and waiting for High Speed Two and will be reached in Phase 1 of the project.

Stafford

Stafford station is a through station on the Macclesfield service and can handle a nine-car Class 390 train which is over 210 metres long, which means they can handle a 200 metre long, classic-compatible High Speed Two train.

There will be one tph between London Euston and Stafford and trains will take 54 minutes.

Sfafford is ready  and waiting for High Speed Two and will be reached in Phase 1 of the project.

Stoke

Stoke station is a through station on the Macclesfield service and can handle a nine-car Class 390 train which is over 210 metres long, which means they can handle a 200 metre long, classic-compatible High Speed Two train.

There will be one tph between London Euston and Stoke and trains will take 71 minutes.

Stoke is ready  and waiting for High Speed Two and will be reached in Phase 1 of the project.

Warrington

Warrington Bank Quay station is a through station on the current Glasgow service and can handle a nine-car Class 390 train which is over 210 metres long, which means they can handle a 200 metre long, classic-compatible High Speed Two train.

There will be the following trains.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Warrington Bank Quay – I tph – 25 minutes
  • London Euston and Warrington Bank Quay – 1 tph – 73 minutes.

Warrington Bank Quay is ready  and waiting for High Speed Two and will be reached in Phase 1 of the project.

Wigan

Wigan North Western station is a through station on the current Glasgow service and can handle a nine-car Class 390 train which is over 210 metres long, which means they can handle a 200 metre long, classic-compatible High Speed Two train.

There will be the following trains.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Wigan North Western – I tph – 36 minutes
  • London Euston and Wigan North Western – 1 tph – 84 minutes.

Wigan North Western is ready  and waiting for High Speed Two and will be reached in Phase 1 of the project.

 

June 25, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Connecting The North West Of England’s Three Powerhouses

It could reasonably be argued that the three most important economic centres of the North West of England are.

  • The City of Liverpool and Merseyside
  • Manchester Airport
  • The City of Manchester and Greater Manchester

I’ll take a quick look at each, with particular reference to public transport links.

The City of Liverpool and Merseyside

Liverpool is introduced by this paragraph in Wikipedia.

Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough in Merseyside, England. As of 2018, the population is approximately 494,814. Liverpool is the ninth-largest English district by population, and the largest in Merseyside and the Liverpool City Region. It lies within the United Kingdom’s sixth-most populous urban area. Liverpool’s metropolitan area is the fifth-largest in the United Kingdom, with a population of 2.24 million.

Knowing Liverpool with affection as I do, I find the City difficult to describe in an unbiased manner, but in my experience few people go for a visit to Liverpool and don’t come back enchanted in some way. It is a many-faceted city!

One of Liverpool’s strengths is the local rail system; Merseyrail, which connects the suburbs to the centre, just like the Underground does in London. As with London, Merseyrail is backed up by a comprehensive bus network. And like London, Liverpool is introducing hydrogen-powered double-deck buses.

Merseyrail is also in a strong expansionist phase.

  • New trains are being delivered to replace some of the oldest trains on the national network in the UK.
  • New stations are being added to the core Merseyrail network.
  • Stations are being improved with refurbishment and step-free access.
  • Merseyrail have ambitions to expand their network to Liverpool Airport, Preston, Skelmersdale, Warrington and Wrexham.

The City of Liverpool and Merseyside in general are getting ready to expand their economy.

Manchester Airport

This Google Map shows Manchester Airport.

Note.

  1. The two runways.
  2. The railway station in the middle of the Airport.
  3. The M56 motorway passing across the North-West of the Airport.

Manchester Airport is the third-busiest airport in the UK in terms of passenger numbers.

  • It is a two-runway airport like Heathrow, which helps a lot in operational efficiency.
  • In 2018, it handled 61% of the number of passengers as Gatwick, but 71% of the aircraft movements.
  • The airport has three terminals.
  • The airport has rail connections to Crewe, Manchester, Northern England, the Central Belt of Scotland and Wales.
  • The airport is connected to the trams of the Manchester Metrolink.

I’ve never flown from the airport as a passenger, so I can’t comment.

Wikipedia has a section on the Future of Manchester Airport, which says.

  • Terminal 2 will be expanded with fifteen more covered stands,
  • The airport will expand to handle more freight.

Airport City Manchester is an £800million expansion to create an airport city on the lines of those at Barcelona and Frankfurt, alongside the airport.

Manchester Airport is certainly building for a future expansion.

Reading about rail links to the airport, you get the impression that some places like Bradford, Derby and Nottingham would like direct links to Manchester Airport.

The City of Manchester and Greater Manchester

Manchester is introduced like this in Wikipedia.

Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 547,627 as of 2018 (making it the fifth most populous English district). It lies within the United Kingdom’s second-most populous urban area, with a population of 2.5 million and second most populous metropolitan area, with a population of 3.3 million. It is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation.

I don’t know Manchester as well as I know Liverpool and most of my visits to the City are usually with limited objectives and a possible overnight stay.

Like Liverpool, Manchester has an extensive public transport network based on the trams of the Metrolink and some local railway lines, backed up by lots of buses.

Transport for Greater Manchester is developing the transport network, with a new Metrolink line to the Trafford Centre opening soon.

Note that if Manchester’s rail system has a problem, it is congestion in the Castlefield Corridor through Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road and Deangate stations and on to Manchester Victoria and Salford Crescent stations. A permanent long-term solution is needed.

The City of Manchester and Greater Manchester are getting putting in the necessary transport links to expand their economy.

Connecting The Three Powerhouses

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, I wrote the following, which I am now repeating in an updated form.

This clip of a map from this Transport for the North report , which is entitled At A Glance – Northern Powerhouse Rail, shows a schematic of the current and possible rail links in the triangle between Crewe, Liverpool and Manchester.

High Speed Two, which is shown in dark green, would appear to come North and split into two routes.

  • One continues North to join the existing West Coast Main Line just South of Wigan.
  • Another goes through Crewe station.

North of Crewe, the two routes join and then split into three at the Junction labelled 6.

  • To Warrington and Liverpool
  • To Wigan, Preston and Scotland
  • To Manchester Airport and Manchester.

A second Junction labelled 5, allows Northern Powerhouse Rail trains to run Liverpool-Warrington-Manchester Airport-Manchester.

This is a new layout and has the following advantages.

  • I estimate that trains could save 7-8 minutes on services running between Crewe and Wigan because of the longer running at High Speed Two operating speeds at 225 mph.
  • ,If they don’t stop at Crewe and Runcorn, further minutes could be saved.
  • Trains between London and Preston and London and Glasgow could skip the stop at Warrington to save further minutes.
  • There could be an advantageous reorganisation of stopping patterns.
  • London and Liverpool services and Liverpool and Manchester services could stop at Warrington, which would give Warrington very good connections.
  • The Liverpool-Manchester and Liverpool-Crewe Lines could be built to High Speed Two standards, which could allow 225 mph running.

I also think the track layout can be run alongside or underneath the various motorways in the area for a lot of the route between Liverpool, Crewe, Warrington and Manchester Airport.

It would appear to be a very good solution to a complex problem and overall, I suspect it gives better connectivity, at a more affordable cost, whilst creating a railway that can be built with less disruption and will ultimately produce less noise.

The Transport for the North report, also says the following.

  • There could be a new Warrington South Parkway station.
  • Six tph between Liverpool and Manchester via Warrington are planned.
  • Journey times will be 26 minutes.

The Twenty-first Century will finally get a modern and fast Liverpool and Manchester Railway.

  • Trains would stop at Manchester Airport, a new Warrington South Parkway and possibly Liverpool South Parkway.
  • Trains would run every ten minutes.
  • Trains would take 26 minutes between Liverpool and Manchester.

These are a few other thoughts on the route.

The Liverpool Terminus

The Transport for the North report proposes a new High Speed station in Liverpool.

  • It would possibly be alongside Liverpool Lime Street station.
  • It would handle both High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail services.
  • The station would need at least four platforms.
  • The station could be connected to Liverpool Lime Street station’s Wirral Line platform.

I believe that a well-designed station could be squeezed in, on the edge of Liverpool City Centre.

Should Trains Stop At Liverpool South Parkway?

I think this could be important, especially, if the station gets a link to Liverpool Airport.

Between Manchester Airport And Manchester City Centre

Most current trains between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport stations take between 15-18 minutes.

I don’t believe that these times are compatible with a 26 minute time between Liverpool and Manchester.

So I am fairly certain that to achieve the planned time in the Transport for the North report, that an almost direct tunnel between Manchester Airport and Manchester City Centre is necessary.

The Manchester City Centre Station

Could the tunnel pass through underground platforms at Manchester Piccadilly station, which run across the station and then surface to connect with the chosen route to Leeds?

In an earlier plan, referenced under Manchester City Centre (Phase 2b) in the  Wikipedia entry for High Speed Two,, this is said.

The route will continue from the airport into Manchester city centre via a 7.5-mile (12.1 km) twin bore branch tunnel under the dense urban districts of south Manchester before surfacing at Ardwick.

Under the earlier plan, trains would have gone into a rebuilt Manchester Piccadilly station.

I also wonder, if the solution would be to bore a tunnel under Manchester City Centre with stations under Manchester Piccadilly station, Piccadilly Gardens and Manchester Victoria.

  • It might be just one set of platforms with travellators, escalators and lifts all over Manchester City Centre.
  • It should be noted that two High Speed Two trains, running as a pair would be four hundred metres long.

One of the advantages of a train connection between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria station, would be that the Castlefield Corridor would be by-passed.

  • TransPennine Express services between Manchester Airport and the North-East would be replaced by Northern Powerhouse Rail services between Liverpool and the North-East via Manchester Airport.
  • The Castlefield Corridor would probably be reserved for local services.
  • Passengers needing Manchester Oxford Road or Deansgate stations would use the current Manchester Airport station.

There are probably other advantages.

Building The High Speed Liverpool And Manchester Line

I believe that this line can be built without too much disruption to existing services, because Crossrail’s construction didn’t disrupt London.

Conclusion

My overall conclusion is that it is feasible to build a Liverpool and Manchester High Speed Line, as an early part of Northern Powerhouse Rail, that will also be used by High Speed Two, when that is extended to Liverpool and Manchester.

 

 

 

March 21, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Castlefield Corridor Trade-Off Plan For Fewer Trains

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

The article says that to solve the problems through the Castlefield Corridor, the number of trains will be reduced from 15 trains per hour (tph) to thirteen tph.

This arrangement applied until May 2018 and meant that two tph between Manchester Airport and East of the Pennines reversed in Manchester Piccadilly station to go East, rather than using the Castlefield Corridor through Deansgate and Manchester Victoria stations.

The arrangement worked well before May 2018 and I doubt there’s no reason, why it won’t work in the short-term.

The long-term solution is Northern Powerhouse Rail and/or High Speed Two, which looks like will be in tunnel between the Airport and Manchester City Centre and could carry as many as six tph between Manchester and Liverpool via the Airport.

Perhaps, this should be the first piece of High Speed Two to be built in the North.

  • It connects the three most important economic areas in the North West of England; Liverpool, Manchester and Manchester Airport.
  • It would greatly increase capacity.
  • It would probably have good connections to Crewe, Warrington, Wigan and the West Coast Main Line.
  • Liverpool has an extensive local rail network, which is being expanded.
  • Manchester is expanding the Metrolink network.

Some of the Castlefield Corridor services would have been replaced by better and faster services.

February 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Rochdale Still Doesn’t Have A Direct Link To Manchester Airport

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

I recently went to Rochdale to see Ipswich play and what surprised me about the town, was how far it was from my hotel close to Manchester Victoria station.

I went on a tram and it took over an hour and it was also very crowded.

I then walked about a mile to the football ground.  Luckily a friendly Rochdale supporter showed me the way.

But is Rochdale’s link to Manchester Airport, any worse than say Walthamstow’s link to Heathrow or Gatwick.

  • Rochdale Town Centre to Manchester Airport by train – 1:05
  • Rochdale Town Centre to Manchester Airport by tram – 2:02
  • Rochdale Station to Manchester Airport by train – 0,:55
  • Rochdale to Manchester Airport by taxi- 0:27
  • Walthamstow Central to Heathrow Airport by Underground and Heathrow Express – 1:05
  • Walthamstow Central to Heathrow Airport by Underground – 1:27
  • Walthamstow to Heathrow Airport by taxi – 1:27
  • Walthamstow Central to Gatwick Airport by train – 1:22

Note.

  1. All journeys, except the taxis, need at least one change.
  2. My lawyer son lives in Walthamstow and always flies from Heathrow.
  3. He gets there by Underground, with one cross-platform change at Finsbury Park.
  4. Crossrail won’t help the man on the Walthamstow Underground.
  5. In Manchester the taxi is quicker, but it isn’t in London.

These are my thoughts.

Mancunians Are More Impatient

Not my view, but the view of a Northern station guy, who has worked on Platforms 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly and busy stations on the London Overground.

He thought that they were sometimes in such a hurry to get on a train, that the train is delayed.

He also said, if you ask Londoners to stand behind the yellow line, they do. Mancunians don’t!

Access To Northern And TransPennine Trains Is Bad

Consider.

  • There is often a step up into the train in Manchester.
  • Manchester Metrolink is generally step-free into the tram.
  • Parts of London Underground/Overground are step-free.
  • The new TransPennine trains have pathetic and slow end-door access.

The two train companies have bought fleets of trains that are not fit for purpose.

The Manchester Airport Rail Link Is At Full Capacity

Manchester Airport station, does not have the best rail line from the City Centre.

Wikipedia says this.

Any future additional services to the Airport are in doubt without further infrastructure works; unresolved issues surround the lack of new ‘through’ platforms at Manchester Piccadilly which have been shelved by the government and the Styal Line to Manchester Airport operating at full capacity with little resilience to absorb delays.

The Rochdale Online article blames the stations in Manchester, but the Styal Line is equally to blame.

The Long Term Solution Is High Speed Two

In the 2030s, High Speed Two will solve the problem by using a tunnel between Manchester Airport and the City Centre.

It will also do the following.

  • Provide direct access between Manchester Airport and the Midlands, the South and London.
  • Provide direct access to Liverpool and Warrington in the West.
  • Provide direct access to Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds, Hull and the North East, in the East.
  • All services will probably be at least five trains per hour (tph).

But High Speed Two won’t provide a direct link to Richdale.

Passengers between Rochdale and Manchester Airport will still have to change in the City Centre.

Unless of course, some TransPennine services to Manchester Airport are discontinued, as they can be done by High Speed Two.

This would free up paths to add extra services to Manchester Airport.

An Interim Solution

Not only Rochdale, but other towns and cities across the North like Bradford moan about lack of a direct service to and from Manchester Airport.

So what would I do?

Ban Freight Trains Through The Castlefield Corridor

This may not be possible, but it should be a long term objective.

It will cost money, but it would release capacity through the Castlefield Corridor.

Ban Trains Without Level Access At Stations In The Castlefield Corridor

I know that Northern and TransPennine have just bought a load of new trains, but they make matters worse in the stations through the Castlefield Corridor.

All Trains To The Airport Must Be Eight Cars

This makes sense as it increases the capacity, but use the same number of paths.

  • Eight-car Class 379 trains – Stansted Express – 160 metres and 418 passengers
  • Five-car Class 802 trains – TransPennine Express – 130 metres and 342 passengers
  • Eight-car Class 331 trains – Northern – 190 metres and 568 passengers

It does appear that the new trains are also setting new standards for train length.

ERTMS Signalling Should Be Installed Between Manchester Victoria And Manchester Airport

ERTMS signalling would give more flexibility on the route.

Create A Manchester Airport Express

This has been suggested and would have the following characteristics.

  • Running between Manchester Airport and Manchester Victoria via Deansgate, Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly.
  • Eight cars
  • Airport-style interiors
  • Step-free access at all stations.
  • Four tph
  • Running twenty-four hours a day.
  • It would have step-free access to the Metrolink at Manchester Victoria, Deansgate and Manchester Piccadilly.

Ideally it would use dedicated platforms at Manchester Airport and Manchester Victoria. The platform at Victoria would hopefully have cross-platform interchange with services going through the station from East to West.

Reduce TransPennine Services To The Airport

TransPennine Express runs the following hourly services to the Airport

  • Cleethorpes via a reverse at Manchester Piccadilly.
  • Edinburgh or Glasgow via the Castlefield Corridor
  • Middlesborough via the Castlefield Corridor
  • Newcastle via the Castlefield Corridor

Why not cut-back either the Newcastle or Middlesborough service to Manchester Victoria and make sure it has good cross-platform access to the Manchester Airport Express?

These services are regularly cut-back anyway due to the congestion.

Demolish Manchester Oxford Road Station And Build A Station That’s Fit For Purpose

Manchester Oxford Road is one of ultimate design crimes on the UK Rail network.

  • The new or refurbished station would be step-free.
  • Platforms would be able to accept two hundred metre long trains.
  • A well-designed bay platform would be provided to turn trains from the North efficiently.
  • Up to four tph could probably be turned back.

Network Rail do station and track layout design generally very well and I’m sure that a redesigned Oxford Road station could improve capacity through the Castlefield Corridor.

Improve Deansgate And Manchester Piccadilly Stations

If longer trains are to be run through the Castlefield Corridor, then the platforms at these two stations will need lengthening and passenger access will need to be improved.

Is There A Place For Tram-Trains?

Manchester are keen on using tram-trains to improve the Metrolink network.

This map clipped from Wikipedia shows the layout of the Metrolink in the City Centre.

Note.

  1. Manchester Piccadilly, Deansgate and Manchester Victoria all have step-free connections to the trains to and from Manchester Airport.
  2. The new Trafford Line will branch off at Pomona.

I think it is likely, that any new lines run by tram-trains will pass through at least one of the connecting stations.

This will increase the list of places that will have good access with a single change to and from Manchester Airport.

Conclusion

There would appear to be a lot of scope to create a high-capacity link between Manchester and the Airport.

But it does appear that the current timetable leaves little or no room to expand the service.

That is why, I believe a simpler but higher capacity service, based on a Manchester Airport Express could be developed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment