The Anonymous Widower

Capacity Crunch At Chester – Mid-Cheshire Line

The Capacity Crunch At Chester article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has a section about the Mid-Cheshire Line.

The section opens with this paragraph.

Trains on the Mid-Cheshire Line, from Chester to Manchester via Stockport and Altrincham, provide interchange with Manchester Metrolink at Altrincham, but the average speed from Chester to Altrincham is 30 mph, which again is uncompetitive with car journey times.

Despite this and only an hourly service, Knutford station has in a footfall in excess of 500,000.

There are other problems.

  • The train timetable is not commuter-friendly to Chester.
  • Connections to and from London are bad at Chester.
  • Sunday services are two-hourly.

But Network Rail are on the case and are lengthening platforms, so frequencies can be increased.

Manchester Airport Western Link

The Wikipedia entry for the Mid-Cheshire Line talks about a western link to Manchjester Airport, which would start from near Mobberley.

Conclusion

Upgrading the Mid-Cheshire Line and Sandbach To Northwich must have possibilities.

July 16, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

By Rail Between Derby And Manchester via Sheffield

In his article entitled Connecting The Powerhouses in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, Colin Boocock, says that the one rail route between Derby and Manchester, is to go via Sheffield.

There is one train an hour that takes one hour 38 minutes with a change at Sheffield. The two legs appear to take 33 and 52 minutes respectively with a thirteen minute wait at Sheffield station, which is a well-equipped station.

Change the destination to Manchester Airport and it’s still one train an hour and the journey takes two minutes over two hours.

Incidentally, the fastest trains to Manchester and Manchester Airport via Sheffield seem to be the same trains.

Improving the times on this route will not be easy.

  • Stops are minimal at only Chesterfield, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport.
  • The service uses the 90 mph Hope Valley Line between Sheffield and Manchester.
  • The only electrification is between Stockport and Manchester Airport.
  • Electrification from Sheffield to Stockport on the Hope Valley Line will be difficult because of the terrain and the countryside lobby.
  • Electrification from Derby to Sheffield will be difficult, as the line goes through a World Heritage Site.

The closure of the electrified Woodhead Line to passenger traffic in 1970, with the benefit of hindsight, now looks to be a crass decision of the highest order. I assume that, the great friend of the railways; Harold Wilson was in charge!

Conclusions

Going between Derby and Manchester by rail is a practical proposition, but it is a route, which would be difficult to improve.

 

June 3, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

By Rail Between Derby And Manchester via Stoke

In his article entitled Connecting The Powerhouses in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, Colin Boocock, says that the best rail route between Derby and Manchester, is to go via Stoke.

There is one train an hour that takes one hour 44 minutes with a change at Stoke. The two legs appear to take 51 and 42 minutes respectively with an eleven minute wait at Stoke station, which is a well-equipped Virgin station.

Change the destination to Manchester Airport and there is an extra change of train and a journey which is at least half-an-hour longer.

You can actually do Derby to Manchester Airport in a couple of minutes over two hours, if you go via Sheffield.

But it does seem a bit crazy, as Manchester Airport is actually eight miles closer to Derby if you drive.

Stoke is well connected to Manchester with up to four trains per hour to Manchester Piccadilly, some of which take just forty minutes. Manchester Airport takes just over the hour with a change at Crewe or Manchester Piccadilly.

The Crewe to Derby Line links Derby and Stoke via Uttoxeter.

This description of the route comes from this section in Wikipedia.

The route is double track for all of its length except for a three-mile section between Alsager and Crewe, which was singled by British Rail. Whilst the majority of the route is not electrified, the section between Stoke Junction and Crewe is as this is a part of the West Coast Main Line.

This means that it should be possible to run electric trains between Manchester Airport and Stoke. As there would be no chnge at Crewe using best times on Stoke-Crewe and Crewe-Manchester Airport giives a time of about fifty minutes.

The route between Stoke and Derby is not electrified and the operating speed of the line is given as 70 mph.

Surely, as it connects Derby and Nottingham to Stoke and the electrified West Coast Main Line, it should have a faster operating speed. In an ideal world, Derby to Stoke must be a prime candidate for electrification. Some of London Overground’s redundant 100 mph Class 317 trains could probably do Derby to Stoke in perhaps thirty-five minutes.

So with electrification all the way, a time of about one hour twenty -five minutes between Derby and Stoke would be possible in a train, that once graced the Stansted Express. So it’s even got luggage racks.

But Derby to Stoke won’t be electrified for years, so could the current service get passengers to Stoke?

There is a section called Services in the Wikipedia entry for the Crewe-Stoke Line. This is said.

The line sees a basic hourly service in each direction with trains calling at all stations on the route however Peartree which is served by 2 Derby bound trains and 3 Crewe bound trains per weekday.

The majority of services on the route since December 2008 have been provided by Class 153 “Super Sprinter” Diesel Multiple Units however Class 158 “Express Sprinter” and Class 156 “Super Sprinter” units are occasionally used. Overcrowding remains a major issue on the route, particularly in the morning and evening peak and a weekends. Passengers are occasionally left behind.

That is a truly pitiful service, as the main rail route from Derby to Manchester is run by a single-coach Class 153 train at times.

It’s amazing anybody trusts the line enough to use it.

As with the Derwent Valley Line, which I wrote about in Exploring The Derwent Valley Line, the problem is probably down to a shortage of suitable trains.

The line needs a suitable bi-mode train.

  • At least four-cars.
  • Airport interior with  luggage racks.
  • Possibly a First Class compartment.
  • Ability to do the forty miles between Stoke and Nottingham on diesel.

A Flex version of a Class 317 train would do nicely and could probably do Nottingham to Manchester Airport in two hours. This would mean.

  • Four trains could provide an hourly service.
  • Eight trains would provide a two trains per hour service.

Would you believe that London Overground will release the eight Class 317/7 trains with the Airport interior next year, when they are replaced by new Class 710 trains?

Conclusion

The more I do little exercises like this, the more I believe that Porterbrook’s Flex concept is not only high-class engineering, but it is a idea, that has arrived at exactly the right time.

The only problem with converting Class 317 trains, is they are owned by Angel Trains! I’m sure that that is not an insurmountable problem!

June 2, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Metro Development With Flex Trains

The June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways gave a few more details of the Class 319 Flex trains, that are being created for Northern.

  • The trains now have their own TOPS-number of 769, which must be a seal of approval.
  • Northern have ordered eight Class 319 Flex trains as part of or in addition to a fleet of thirty-two Class 319 trains.
  • These eight trains will be delivered by the end of May 2018.
  • A Class 319 Flex train can be produced every two weeks.

It is also likely, that by the end of this year, Network Rail will have completed the following.

  • The Ordsall Chord connecting Manchester Victoria and Piccadilly stations.
  • Electrification between Manchester and Preston.
  • Electrification from Preston to Blackpool North station.
  • Electrification from Manchester Victoria to Stalybridge.

This will mean electric trains like the Class 319 train and bi-mode trains like the Class 319 Flex train, can go between Hazel Grove, Manchester Airport and Stockport to Blackpool North, Liverpool Lime Street, Manchester Victoria, Preston and Wigan North Western.

The Class 319 Flex trains using their diesel power will also be able to extend the electric network to Blackburn, Blackpool South, Burnley Manchester Road, Clitheroe, Southport, Stalybridge, Wigan Wallgate and Windermere, without any additional electrification.

There will be benefits for passengers.

  • The Class 319 trains and Class 319 Flex trains will be faster and journey times will be shorter.
  • Services run by elderly two-car trains will now be run by refurbished four-car trains.
  • Most journeys across Manchester will be continuous or with a single same-platform change at a convenient station.

How will various routes be affected?

Cross-Manchester Travel

Cross-City lines revolutionise city travel and the Ordsall Chord will do the same for Manchester.

This map from Wikipedia shows the location of the Ordsall Chord and how it is connected to exotic places like  Bolton, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester Airport, Stockport and Warrington.

Mancunians will have to learn how to use the link, but they won’t take long to do that!

You may be lucky and your journey will be available from your local station.

But if it requires a change, you will probably take a train to the central core stations of Victoria, Deansgate, Oxford Road or Piccadilly and change for your ultimate destination.

  • For many changes, you will just get off one train, wait on the platform for a few minutes and then board another train.
  • Some stations will be better interchanges than others.
  • Platforms 13 and 14 at Piccadilly may be crowded, but they are at least an island platform allowing a change of direction.
  • Platforms at Deansgate and Oxford Road may need widening.
  • Other stations like Salford Crescent and Salford Central will also get used as interchanges.

If there is one problem with the Ordsall Chord, it is the name.

Perhaps it should be called the Mancunian Chord?

Collateral Benefits Of The Ordsall Chord

The nearest railway line in concept to the Ordsall Chord is probably Thameslink in London.

  • As Thameslink has developed, it has not only provided a high-capacity North-South route across London, but it has also taken the pressure from main line stations like London Bridge, St. Pancras and Victoria, by allowing travellers to change to their long distance trains further out.
  • Thmeslink has also been a major factor in improving services to Gatwick Airport.
  • Gatwick Airport is building on its position to be a major rail hub South of London.

Over the years Thameslink has developed and some think in a few years time, Thameslink will be at least, if not more important than Crossrail.

Two things will definitely happen, when the Ordsall Chord opens.

As with Thameslink in London, Northern and Southern routes into the Manchester, will be linked back-to-back, to free up platforms in terminal stations.

Frequencies and capacity on many routes will increase. Stations, that have had a two-car diesel train twice an hour since the days of steam ended, will find they get a four-car electric or bi-mode train at a doubled frequency.

But long-term the Ordsall Chord will have major effects.

  • Towns and areas like Blackburn, Blackpool, Burnley, Chester, Hudderfield, Kirkby, Southport, Warrington and Wigan will have frequent train services to and from the whole of Manchester City Centre and will benefit accordingly.
  • Increased frequencies to Leeds and Liverpool will be easier to arrange.
  • Many travellers going to and from Birmingham, London and the South will change at Stockport rather than Piccadilly.
  • Few trains will reverse direction in Piccadilly.
  • Just as Gatwick Airport has been envigorated by Thameslink, Manchester Airport will become a major rail hub.
  • Will Preston develop into Manchester’s hub station for travellers going North or to Scotland.
  • Access to the tourist areas of North Lancashire, the Peak District and Yorkshire will be improved.

The Ordsall Chord will have such major effects on Manchester, that I could see HS2 plans being changed.

Buxton To Manchester And Clitheroe To Manchester

I will treat these routes together, as I believe they are a natural fit, where back-to-back operation will be beeficial.

  • Both routes are uphill away from Manchester.
  • Both routes need better and faster trains.
  • Both routes need more capacity.
  • Class 319 Flex trains could work both routes without any infrastructure work.

Could Buxton to Clitheroe, with perhaps a two-hourly extension to Hellifield for the Settle and Carlisle Railway create a very valuable tourism asset for the North-West?

In Why Not Buxton To Hellifield?, I looked at the possibilities about running  a direct back-to-back service across Manchester.

I said this.

In some ways the interesting one is the round trip from Buxton to Clitheroe, which allowing ten minutes for each turnround at Clitheroe and Buxton means that the round trip is under four hours.

This means that an hourly Buxton to Clitheroe service would need four trains and two trains per hour would need eight trains.

As the routes to Blackburn and Clitheroe in the North and Hazel Grove and Buxton in the South are very busy, four-car Class 319 Flex trains will be very welcome.

Windermere

Improving the service to Windermere station on the Windermere Branch is a complex problem.

I have been doing some analysis in Is Electrification Of The Windermere Branch Line Really Necessary?

I came to this conclusion.

I think that updating Oxenholme station with a fourth platform and using more powerful trains, would allow the frequency of trains on the Windermere Branch to be increased to one train every thirty minutes.

No electrification of the branchwould be needed.

We will know the answer, when Northern run a Class 319 Flex train in trials to Windermere.

I will not speculate on the timetable, but I’m sure Northern know about how the ideal timetable should look.

Manchester Airport to Huddersfield Via Stalybridge

Electrification to Stalybridge station is running late.

But no matter, as Class 319 Flex trains could fill in for their electric sisters.

Further Routes To The Core

Because they are bi-mode trains, the limitations of which routes can be served using Class 319 Flex trains, will be limited more by the availability of trains than anything else.

Signalling and operational procedures through the core will need to be improved, but a twin-track railway like that can take a frequency of sixteen to twenty tph over the Irwell.

After all, the East London Line has handled those frequencies in a tunnel built by Brunel’s father in the mid-1800s since 2010.

Adding New Routes

I don’t know the rail lines in Manchester at all, but so long as the track and need is there, Class 319 Fle trains can serve any route.

In the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, they are reporting on a plan to reopen six miles of disused railway between Irlam in Salford and Timperley in Trafford.

From the visualisation in the magazine, it looks a spectacular railway, that could provide a direct route between the West of the City and Althincham, Stockport and Manchester Airport.

Adding More Trains

I feel that Manchester will need more trains in a couple of years.

But just as Liverpool found no trouble with funding new custom-built trains for their network, when the time comes for Manchester to increase the fleet size, the city shouldn’t have a problem! Brexit permitting!

At least, if the Ordsall Chord routes are successful, they will define the specification of the new trains.

The simplest plan would see some new four-car electric units added to the fleet to release Class 319 trains for conversion to more Class 319 Flex trains.

Some of these trains could be specially designed airport trains for connecting Manchester Airport to Blackpool, Huddersfield, Liverpool and other places.

At some time in the future, all of the Class 319 trains and Class 319 Flex trains will be replaced, but will they finally see the scrapyard or will they be sent to do missionary work in places like Aberdeen, Bristol, Derby, Exeter, Lincoln, Sheffield, Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle and other places.

Conclusion

The Class 319 Flex train may have been designed by Porterbrook and Northern to fill an enormous hole left by Network Rail’s non-performance on electrification, but like its famous predecessor, the InterCity 125 which filled the gap left by the non-performance of the Advanced Passenger Train, I feel it will set new standards in train travel. But this time on predominately urban rather than InterCity routes.

I also feel strongly, that te flexible methods being used in Manchester to develop the rail services could be used elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 29, 2017 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , | 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

Could Platform 13 And 14 At Manchester Piccadilly Station Be Improved?

I took this picture on the island platform 13 /14, at Manchester Piccadilly station on my trip to the North last week.

I actually took the picture, as I wanted to check if the lines were electrified, which can be seen.

Services Through Manchester Victoria, Manchester Piccadilly and Salford Crescent Stations

After the current works on the Ordsall Chord has been completed, Manchester Victoria, Manchester Piccadilly and Salford Crescent stations will form a triangle of lines and stations, through which services passing through Manchester will travel. This map from Wikipedia shows the lines in a simplified form.

Note the lines to Leeds, Bolton, Liverpool, Warrington, Stockport. It is a real Crossrails of the North.

The only similar intensive set of railway junctions in a city with multiple terminal stations is be the tangle of lines across the South Bank of the Thames in London encompassing London Bridge, Cannon Street, Blackfriars, Waterloo East and Charing Cross stations. This map from Wikipedia shows the lines in a simplified form.

Simple it is not!

As an aside it should be noted that Thameslink is planned to run twenty-four trains per hour (tph), through the central core tunnel, of which sixteen tph stop at both Blackfriars and London Bridge stations. Add in the 14 tph terminating at Charing Cross and the 16 tph terminating at Cannon Street, all of which stop at London Bridge and you get a measure of the capability of modern signalling.

Northern Electric Services To Manchester Airport

As I write this, Northern Electrics trains from Liverpool Lime Street, Edinburgh via Wigan North Western and Blackpool North via Bolton are all scheduled to call in Platforms 13 at Manchester Piccadilly station within the next hour on their way to Manchester Airport. Only the Liverpool service is run by an electric train, which is one of the 100 mph Class 319 trains.

But after the Manchester to Preston Line via Bolton and the Blackpool Branch Lines are electrified and the Ordsall Chord is opened, which will hopefully happen late in 2017, there could be more Northern |Electrics services through these platforms going to Manchester Airport from these and other stations.

Stations marked with Flex will be run by Class 319 Flex trains, but as they will be running on the overhead wires through these platforms to and from the Airport, they can be considered to be the same as the electric Class 319 trains.

If you look at the current service between Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Airport stations, the frequency is something like eight trains per hour.

So there will be a large number of electric trains going through Platforms 13/14 at Piccadilly! And the trains will be getting longer, with the minimum train size being four-cars and surely eight-cars are possible on some routes.

All of these services will bring passengers to and from Platforms 13 /14 at Piccadilly.

Manchester’s New Urban Link

Across the South Bank of London most people take the Jubilee Line!

But I don’t!

Between say London Bridge and Charing Cross, I will use Southeastern’s 14 tph service between the two stations, as it’s quicker, the views are better and there’s less walking in tunnels underground.

And according to some of their Customer Service people, I’m not the only one.

Manchester will also be getting a new similar high capacity urban link from Manchester Piccadilly station across the city, that will serve.

Before splitting into two branches.

As there is also a line that joins Salford Crescent to Manchester Victoria via Salford Crescent, train planners will have a lot of scope for improving services.

  • Liverpool and Manchester services have a choice of Manchester terminals and a variety of routes.
  • A service linking Edinburgh, Newcastle, York, Leeds, Huddersfield, Manchester Victoria, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport would be possible. Current services go via the West Coast Main Line.
  • Inwards to Manchester, an improved Salford Crescent station could be a cross-platform interchange with Salford Central/Victoria services on one platform face and Deansgate/Oxford Road/Piccadilly/Airport services on the other.
  • Similarly, outwards from Manchester, Salford Crescent station could be a cross platform interchange between services.

I think that this could lead to the Metrolink being connected to one or both of the two Salford stations.

To sum everything up, there will be lots of trains going through the three stations of Manchester Victoria, Manchester Piccadilly and Salford Crescent.

And all those trains using the Windsor Link and the Ordsall Chord will be coming through Platform 13 or Platform 14 at Manchester Piccadlly station.

Overcrowding At Platform 13 and 14 At Manchester Piccadilly Station

Overcrowding at these two platforms is bad enough already and it’s going to get worse if more and longer trains are running through the platforms.

Looking at the picture, the platforms are not overly-wide either.

But at least there are solutions, as I’ll discuss now.

The Alternative Route

Londoners are world-champions at ducking-and diving and will find the route that is quickest after a few weeks of a new rail line or bus route opening. It’s probably one of the reasons that Transport for London, placed the forecast for the passenger usage on the London Overground on the low side.

I don’t know how Mancunians will react to the Ordsall Chord and the new Northern Electrics services, but if they quickly suss-out the best route for their personal journey, this may mean that passengers avoid using Platforms 13/14 at Piccadilly.

There are a quite a few interchange stations on the Piccadilly-Salford Crescent and Piccadilly-Victoria routes through the City.

Better Access To The Island Platform 13/14

Access to the island platform is not good and perhaps more escalators and lifts will help.

Whatever is done to improve the through route, improvement of the access will be on the list of projects to perform.

A Bigger Island Platform 13/14

Looking at the picture in this post, I wonder if the island platform could be made bigger.

If it was wider, this would need the tracks to be moved apart and if this is possible another metre on the platform width would help.

I was on Platform A at St. Pancras Thameslink station this morning and it is very long platform, with the trains stopping vaguely in the middle, thus leaving spare platform space at each end.

So if the platform could be lengthened would this help with the overcrowding?

This Google Map shows the Western end of Platform 13/14.

Platform 13/14 is the pointy one in the middle.

And this one the Eastern end.

Again Platform 13/14 is the one in the middle.

It’s all very tight and I estimate Platform 13/14 isn’t much more then ten metres wide at any point.

Access to Platforms 13/14 From Below

I don’t know whether this is possible, but the platforms sit on a large viaduct and in many stations like this escalators and lifts are used to access the platforms from below.

This picture shows the Platforms on the viaduct.

Platform 14 is closest to the camera.

I think that with imagination, access might be possible from this side.

A New Bridge To Platforms 13/14

This Google Map shows the London end of the platforms at Piccadilly.

Platform 13/14 is at the bottom of the picture.

I think there is space to put a second bridge over the platforms here and it could reach all the way to the new HS2 platforms on the other side of the station.

Platforms 15 And 16 At Manchester Piccadilly Station

Building two new platforms 15 and 16 has been touted as a solution.

I think that the key to whether four through platforms is needed, is how many trains will be going through.

In a few years time the two track cross-London lines; Crossrail aqnd Thameslink will be handling 24 tph, with a third; the East London Line handling 20 tph.

Also at London Bridge, 54 tph in both directions are handled by nine platforms, which means that an average of 12 tph go through each platform.

If you look at the Y-shaped line through Manchester, Thameslink could be overlaid on the top.

  • Blackfriars would be Platforms 13/14 at Piccadilly.
  • St. Pancras Thameslink would be Deansgate.
  • West Hampstead Thameslink would be Salford Crescent.
  • Finsbury Park would be Victoria.

Other conditions would be needed for a throughput approaching that of Thameslink.

  • All trains must be modern electric trains, capable of making quick stops.
  • All trains must be fitted with modern signalling.
  • No trains terminating at Manchester Oxford Road
  • Some services from the North linked back-to-back with services to the South to free up platform space at Victoria and Piccadilly.

Thameslink is aiming for 24 tph and currently runs 14 tph.

I can’t see, if everything is done correctly, that Platform 13/14 at Piccadilly can’t handle somewhere between 14-24 tph.

And as Thameslink manages 14 tph with a proportion of Class 319 trains, I would be very surprised if this figure is not attainable.

Under Proposal in the Wikipedia entry for the Ordsall Chord, this is said.

The Ordsall Chord will provide a direct link between Piccadilly and Victoria stations, allowing trains from Manchester Victoria and the east to continue to Piccadilly. On completion the chord will allow four trains per hour to travel between Manchester Airport/Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria in each direction, eight trains per hour from Manchester Victoria towards the west via Chat Moss, and six trains per hour from Manchester Piccadilly towards either Chat Moss or Bolton and Preston. Other trains will travel from Manchester Piccadilly via Warrington.

This appears to say that only the following trains would use Platform 13/14 at Piccadilly.

  • 4 tph Manchester Airport/Piccadilly to Victoria
  • 6 tph Piccadilly to Chat Moss or Bolton/Preston

So that is just 10 tph.

Currently, in the Peak, it appears that the frequency of trains between Oxford Road and Piccadilly is 10 tph.

I have a feeling that with a bit of reorganisation of services, the rather difficut problem of building Platforms 15/16 can be delayed for ten years or more, if not for ever.

Manchester Airport From The South

How would people from Birmingham, London and the South get to Manchester Airport?

There are two routes.

  1. Change at Manchester Picaadilly to any of the several tph to Manchester Airport
  2. Change at Crewe to the Crewe-Manchester Line.

I would use the second option as it’s fifteen minutes quicker and avoids Platform 13/14 at Piccadilly.

I suspect that the train companies will reorganise their services from Crewe to Manchester via the Airport to take advantage of the Ordsall curve and the new electrification North of Manchester.

HS2 Arrives At Crewe

HS2 will have various effects, when it arrives at Crewe in 2027!

One interesting idea, borrowed from the French, would be to split and join, shorter HS2 trains at Crewe. So perhaps two or even three shorter units would work as a larger unit between London and Crewe.

The advantage of this is that anywhere that is electrified and has a platform long enough could get a high-speed service to London and the South, if the market was there.

According to this page in the Guardian, Crewe will be just 58 minutes from London, instead of the fastest time of 97 minutes today.

Currently Crewe to Manchester Airport takes thirty minutes in a Class 323 train. If as I suspect HS2 trains can run efficiently on classic lines, the following times might be possible using the 110 mph Crewe-Manchester Line to complete the journey.

  • Manchester Piccadilly – 88 minutes instead of the current 127 minutes.
  • Manchester Airport – possibly 78 minutes instead of 144 minutes.
  • Stockport – 76 minutes instead of 115 minutes

No services would need any changes.

But a train might leave London, do a quick stop at Crewe, where it divided with one portion going to Manchester Airport and the other to Stockport and Manchester Piccadilly.

The operator would be able to run short HS2 trains on the classic lines to the North and East of Manchester using the lines now being electrified.

Currently, Huddersfield to Manchester Piccadilly takes 33 minutes, so a modern electric train must be able to do the journey in 20 minutes.

On my estimate of 88 minutes to Piccadilly using HS2, on the electrified existing tracks Huddersfield could be reached without a change in 108 minutes.

The current fastest time is 175 minutes with a change at York.

Running HS2 trains through platforms 13/14 at Piccadilly would have no effect on the design of the platforms, as the HS2 trains will be designed to run to any electrified platform, that is long enough.

The interesting destination of a portion of a train would be Blackburn, if the electrification was extended to the town.

I estimate it could be done in 133 minutes without a change as opposed to 162 minutes today with a change at Preston.

Until 1964, the Ribble Valley Line used to host a Manchester-Glasgow express and now I believe it could have a HS2 service to and from London.

Conclusion

Manchester and its environs will get a much better rail system.

But I suspect it will be some years before Piccadilly gets Platforms 15/16

 

 

 

 

March 16, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 3 Comments

TransPennine Express To Edinburgh

In the July 2016 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled CAF to build new TPE trains.

This is said.

Once TPE extends its services via the East Coast Main Line to Edinburgh from December 2019, it intends to use pricing and frequency to encourage journeys on this route to mitigate crowding on its West Coast Main Line services.

I don’t think the Scots will object to this competition to Virgin.

It would also appear that because of the success of the Borders Railway, that there are suggestions to add new stations on the East Coast Main Line at Reston and East Linton. These would fit in well with an increased frequency of fast passenger trains up the East Coast Main Line.

June 22, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

More Trains Want To Use Manchester Airport

I have just read this article on Rail Magazine entitled Pressure for Manchester Airport paths.

It is specifically about Arriva Trains Wales, who want to extend their North Wales to Manchester Piccadilly service to Manchester Airport.

But the article also mentions the reorganisation of Northern Trains and TransPennine.

So it does appear that Manchester Airport is on the up and the train companies are aiming to tap into the extra demand!

January 14, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

While Cameron Dithers About London, Manchester Decides!

I picked up two reports on airports this week.

This report on the BBC is entitled Heathrow airport delay gutless, says business group and talks about a lot of the fallout from David Cameron’s decision not to decide on a new runway for the South-East.

In contrast, you have this report in the Manchester Evening News entitled New images shows possible high-tech future of Manchester Airport’s check-in after ‘Super Terminal’ transformation, which describes the airports expansion plans.

Expanding Heathrow seems to generate controversy in super-tanker loads, whereas Manchester doesn’t sem to attract anything like the same level, even when you take the different sizes into account.

Look at this Google Map of Heathrow.

Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Airport

Compare it with this one of Manchester Airport.

Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport

I don’t know for sure, but it would appear from these maps and larger ones, that Heathrow has used up much more of the available space around the runways, whereas Manchester hasn’t!

When Heathrow wanted to build Terminal 5, they had to move a sewage works, and another terminal would be difficult on the same site. Manchester has some space left.

So any expansion at Heathrow needs to expand the airport site, which is where a lot of the opposition comes from.

In my view the only way to expand Heathrow is to make better use of the current runways and the terminals. But that can only go on for so long!

And would the locals object to more landings and take-offs? You bet they would!

David Cameron is no fool and he knows that with the opposition of Boris Johnson and nearly all the candidates for the London Mayor against Heathrow, that it will never gain a third runway.

I hate to look backwards but the Roskill Commission of the 1960s and their eventual decision by a roundabout route was for an airport on Maplin Sands to the East of Southend.

But Harold Wilson’s government cancelled this airport, just as they did the Picc-Vic Tunnel in Manchester and improvement of the rail lines across the Pennines.

In my view as air traffic increases, Heathrow needs to expand to just survive, as there is competition all around.

  • Schipol, Paris Charles de Gaulle and even Manchester competing for the interchange traffic.
  • Trains to the Continent
  • Birmingham, Gatwick, Luton, Southend, Stansted and others nibbling Heathrow’s markets.
  • HS2
  • Passengers are increasingly savvy and go from any convenient airport, using an acceptable airline at the right time and price.
  • Internet technology will guide people to the best and cheapest way to travel from say Cambridge to Boston. An expensive Heathrow could be its own worst enemy.
  • Other airports will offer better car-friendly solutions.

So as it can’t expand, due to the politicians and local residents, Heathrow must accept that it can’t and it must prepare itself for downgrade to just an airport for London and those living locally.

It also means, the South East must eventually find another site for a new airport to replace Heathrow.

The only place is the Thames Estuary!

So why didn’t the Davies Airport Commission recommend the Boris Island?

Howard Davies is a man of the City Establishment, who are very conservative with a small c and love the convenience, which Crossrail will make better, of Heathrow. How many submissions were against the Boris Island because it would mean too much change in their business?

But a properly designed Thames Hub Airport, could also incorporate the new Thames Barrier and Lower Thames Crossing that London needs.

To many of London’s residents and a lot of their politicians, it is a no-brainer! But for the City, only an expanded Heathrow will do!

So how will Manchester Airport affect London’s Airport mess in the future.

I believe that Manchester Airport will start to dominate air transport in the North of England and Scotland, just as Heathrow used to dominate the South.

  • It has space for new terminals and aircraft and car parking.
  • A rail network is developing to bring passengers to the airport from all over the North and Scotland.
  • HS2 and probably HS3 are coming to the Airport.
  • When it needs to expand it decides to and does!

It could also be combined with Liverpool Airport using a very high speed train, if it needed more runway capacity. It’s just forty-four kilometres as a Maglev would fly at 200 kilometres per hour, up the Mersey. Manchester and Liverpool airports could work together, much better than Heathrow can work with either Gatwick, Luton or Stansted.

So will an expanded Manchester Airport take a big bite out of Heathrow’s traffic? You bet it will. Especially, if Heathrow continues to not expand.

I think we should start to plan a Thames Estuary Airport now, even if we don’t built it for twenty years.. If we don’t, then when we need to start building, we’ll take another fifty years to make a decision.

Or we could always do what we’re doing now and let market forces, various interests and passenger choice decide our airports policy?

And as ever, engineers and architects, will improve aircraft and airports, so that we find them acceptable.

The airports problem won’t be solved until perhaps in about 2060, when the Dutch get fed up with Schipol and we join with them and the Belgians to create an airport perhaps slightly east of the Thames Estuary connected to various countries by high speed rail lines. It could be called Canute International!

The only certainty, is that I won’t be here to see it built!

 

December 12, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

A Transport Hub Fit For A Major Airport

I’ve only been to Manchester Airport once and that was many years ago, when I flew my Piper Arrow into the then single-runway airport.

On my trip north today, I wanted to take a ride on one of the refurbished Class 319 trains running between the airport and Liverpool Lime Street, so as I got a good deal on tickets including a trip in First to Crewe, I went via the airport.

The pictures show the rail station at the airport, which has three platforms for trains and one for the Metrolink. A fourth rail platform is under construction.

Most of the pictures were taken looking towards the entry to the station, with the platforms being number 1, 2 3 and 4 for right to left (south to north).

If the Metrolink platform was given a number, it would be five.

This Google Earth image shows the station and the surrounding area.

Manchester Airport Station

Manchester Airport Station

Note the current three rail platforms with the Metrolink between them and the bus station. My Class 323 train from Crewe  arrived on the southernmost platform, which is numbered one. Platforms two and three are either side of a long island and it would appear that the construction work between platform three and the Metrolink and the bus station will be the new platform four.

A station-man indicated that the lines into the station are a bit limited and expansion of the rail links out of the station might be something to upgrade in the future.

One difference between this airport station and most of the other ones I’ve visited was that it wasn’t buried deep in a dark claustrophobic pit under the airport. So I was able to walk up and down in the sun, whilst waiting for my train!

My only disappointment was that instead of getting a refurbished Class 319 train, I got a clean Class 156 train.

March 19, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment