The Anonymous Widower

Manchester Metrolink Opens Trafford Park Line

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The 5·5 km Manchester Metrolink light rail extension to the Trafford Centre shopping complex was opened for revenue service on March 22, around seven months ahead of the original target date.

I had hoped to go up to Manchester on the day it opened to take a few pictures, but COVID-19 kyboshed that!

April 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

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 | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool Lime Street And Some Other Stations Compared

I am doing this exercise to get a handle on the scale of the problem at Platforms 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly station.

In 2018/19, these were some passenger statistics for the two stations and some others.

  • Birmingham New Street station handled 47.928 million passengers on its thirteen platforms or 3.62 million per platform per year.
  • Brighton station handled 17.385 million passengers on its eight platforms or 2.17 million per platform per year.
  • Bristol Temple Meads station handled 11.368 million passengers on its thirteen platforms or 0.87 million per platform per year.
  • Cardiff station handled 14.205 million passengers on its eight platforms or 1.78 million per platform per year.
  • Chelmsford station handled 8.927 million passengers on two platforms of 4.46 million per platform per year.
  • Crewe station handled 3.318 million passengers on its twelve platforms or 0.28 million per platform per year.
  • Deansgate station handled 0.458 million passengers on its two platforms or 0.23 million per platform per year.
  • Doncaster station handled 3,918 million passengers on its nine platforms or 0.44 million per platform per year.
  • East Croydon station handled 24.770 million passengers on its six platforms or 4.12 million per platform per year.
  • Exeter St. Davids station handled 2.620 million passengers on its six platforms or 0.44 million per platform per year.
  • Gatwick Airport station handled 21.225 million passengers on its seven platforms or 3.03 million per platform per year.
  • Leeds station handled 30.839 million passengers on its seventeen train platforms or 1.81 million per platform per year.
  • Leicester station handled 5.582 million passengers on its four platforms or 1.40 million per platform per year.
  • Liverpool Lime Street station handled 14.221 million passengers on its eleven platforms or 1.29 million per platform per year.
  • London Bridge station handled 61.308 million passengers on its fifteen platforms or 4.08 million per platform per year.
  • London Fenchurch Street station handled 18.508 million passengers on its four platforms or 4.63 million per platform per year.
  • London Paddington station handled 38.18 million passengers on its thirteen platforms or 2,94 million per platform per year.
  • Manchester Oxford Road station handled 9.338 million passengers on its five platforms or 1.87 million per platform per year.
  • Manchester Piccadilly station handled 30.252 million passengers on its fourteen platforms and two tram platforms or 1.89 million per platform per year.
  • Manchester Victoria station handled 8.950 million passengers on its eight platforms or 1.12 million per platform per year.
  • Newcastle station handled 8,914 million passengers on its twelve platforms or 0.74 million per platform per year.
  • Nottingham station handled 8.005 million passengers on its nine platforms or 0.89 million per platform per year.
  • Peterborough station handled 5.060 million passengers on its seven platforms or 0.72 million per platform per year.
  • Preston station handled 4.646 million passengers on its nine platforms or 0.52 million per platform per year.
  • Reading station handled 17.081 million passengers on its fifteen platforms or 1.14 million per platform per year.
  • York station handled 9.991 million passengers on its eleven platforms or 0.90 million per platform per year.

These figures have given rise to a few thoughts.

Brighton

Brighton station is an eight platform terminal station, that handles a lot of passengers, considering that the City doesn’t have any mass transit system and passengers rely on walking, bicycles, buses and private cars for onward travel.

  • There are upwards of eight trains per hour (tph) at the station to and from London, all of which can be up to twelve cars.
  • The West Coastway and East Coastway Lines have at least six tph in the Off Peak.
  • Arriving passengers can walk straight through the wide gate line and out to walking routes and the buses, with leaving passengers walking the other way.

I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Brighton station is at capacity.

Chelmsford

It is truly remarkable that Chelmsford station is the second busiest station in terms of passengers per platform per year on my list.

  • The station has two separate platforms on either side of the tracks.
  • Access is via wide stairs and lifts.
  • The station appears to handle five tph in both directions in the Off Peak, with up to twice that number in the Peak.
  • Most trains calling at the station are between eight and twelve cars.
  • Chelmsford station could get even busier in terms of passengers when the new longer Class 720 trains and Class 745 trains are brought into service in the next twelve months, as these trains have higher capacities, than the current trains.
  • It is aimed, that the new trains though will have level access between train and platform, at some point in the future.

I very much feel, that Chelmsford shows what can be done at an ordinary two platform station with the application of good simple design.

London Fenchurch Street

London Fenchurch Street is the busiest station on my list.

  • The limited number of platforms will increase the number of passengers per platform per year.
  • The station has two entrances to each platform.
  • Arriving passengers can walk straight through the wide gate line at the main entrance and down escalators to walking routes at street level, with leaving passengers walking the other way.
  • Many trains in the Peak are twelve cars.
  • Adding extra platforms would be difficult.

It does appear, that work has been done to maximise the station’s capacity.

Crewe, Doncaster, Exeter St. Davids, Newcastle, Peterborough, Preston and York

All these stations are interchange stations on the main lines, that may have been improved, but have not been substantially rebuilt.

They all manage to handle between 0.5 million and 1 million passengers per platform per year.

Leeds

Leeds station has been improved over the last few years.

  • There are six through platforms and eleven where trains can terminate.
  • After passing through the gate line, passengers are in a concourse from where long distance services to London and the North and local services to Bradford, Harrogate, Ilkley and Skipton can be boarded.
  • A new wide bridge with escalators, a lift and steps leads from this concourse across the through lines and platforms to the other side of the station.
  • There are lifts and escalators from the bridge to some of the through platforms and the terminating platforms beyond them.
  • At the far side of the bridge, a new Southern entrance has been added.

<The bridge works well and shows how a wide bridge over or a wide concourse under the tracks, can improve circulation in a station.

If you compare the bridge at Leeds, with the bridge at Reading, which was designed at around the same time, the Reading one is better in that it is wider and has more escalators, with one up and one down escalator to each pair of platforms.

Was a certain amount of design at Leeds station performed by accountants?

London Bridge

London Bridge station shows what can be done by applying good design in a new or rebuilt station.

  • There are nine through and six terminal platforms.
  • All platforms can take full-length twelve-car trains.
  • There is a massive concourse underneath all fifteen platforms.
  • There are lots of escalators and lifts between the concourse and the platforms.
  • Steps provide additional and reserve capacity.
  • Passengers changing between routes can take an escalator or lift to the concourse and another one to their new route.
  • Arriving passengers can walk straight through the wide gate lines and out to walking routes, the Underground and the buses, with leaving passengers walking the other way.
  • London Bridge station was designed by Grimshaw Architects

It is a design with a wow factor that works very well.

Reading

Reading station is another good design applied to a rebuilt station.

  • There are nine through platforms,  three East-facing bay platforms and three West-facing bay platforms.
  • All through platforms can take full-length trains.
  • All bay platforms are a level walk from the Southernmost through platform and the main entrance gate line to the station.
  • There is a massive bridge over all nine through platforms.
  • There are lots of escalators and lifts between the bridge and the through platforms.
  • Steps provide additional and reserve capacity.
  • Passengers changing between routes can take an escalator or lift to the bridge and another one to their new route.
  • Arriving passengers can walk straight through the wide gate lines and out to walking routes, the car-parks and the buses, with leaving passengers walking the other way.
  • Reading station was designed by Grimshaw architects.

It is a design with a wow factor that works very well.

Redesigning Manchester Piccadilly

Could some of the principles of these stations be applied to rebuilding Manchester Piccadilly station?

There are currently twelve terminal platforms numbered 1-12 in the main part of the station.

  • Platforms 1 to 4 are used for services to Marple, New Mills, Rose Hill and Sheffield via the Hope Valley Line, and services on the Glossop Line.
  • Platforms 5 to 9 are the longest and used by Avanti West Coast and CrossCountry services.
  • Platforms 10 to 12 are shorter than the others and are usually used to accommodate local trains to Crewe and Manchester Airport, plus Mid-Cheshire line, Buxton Line and South Wales services.

The two through platforms 13 and 14 are on the Southern side of the station.

These ideas might be possible.

A Wide Bridge Or Concourse Connecting The Platforms At The London End

Currently, there is a bridge over the platforms 1 to 12 at the London end, but compared to the bridges at Leeds or Reading stations, it is a rather feeble affair.

  • It is narrow.
  • It doesn’t have any kiosks or shops.
  • It is only connected to the platforms by steps.

Could this be replaced by a wide bridge, like say the one at Reading?

It would certainly give advantages if it could!

  • Passengers arriving in Manchester Piccadilly needing to change to another service, might find it more convenient to use the bridge, rather than exit on to the main concourse.
  • The bridge could be designed as a waiting area, with kiosks, shops, cafes and other facilities.
  • The bridge would be connected to all platforms by escalators and lifts.
  • Steps would provide additional and reserve capacity.

Note that if you buy a ticket to Manchester stations, that allows you to go to either Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Deansgate or Manchester Victoria stations, So a quick route up and down an escalator at the London end of Piccadilly station to Platform 14 would be very convenient.

Access To Platforms 13 And 14

Compared to the wide island platforms at Leeds and Reading, platform 13 and 14 are a bit narrow, but I’m fairly sure, that a good layout for escalators and lifts could be designed, so that access to these two platforms can be improved.

Trains Through Platforms 13 and 14

These must be arranged, so that they are all similar with wide double doors and step-free access between platform and train.

Improvement Along The Castlefield Corridor

Various improvements need to be done on the Castlefield Corridor.

  • Deansgate can be improved to provide better access to the Metrolink at Castlefield.
  • Manchester Oxford Road station needs a complete rebuilt and a better track layout.
  • The Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport service via Warrington and Manchester Oxford Road needs a strong rethink.

It appears that it has already been decided to reduce the number of trains, as I wrote about in Castlefield Corridor Trade-Off Plan For Fewer Trains.

Wide Gate Lines

Passengers arriving at Manchester Piccadilly station in the main part of the station should be able to walk forward to a gate line stretching right across all the platforms.

  • The present gate line isn’t continuous.
  • There is still a lot of manual checking of tickets.

The current layout can certainly be improved.

Access To Metrolink

I also wonder if better access to the Metrolink could be provided, so that passengers access the Metrolink station from inside the gate line. Now that the Metrolink allows contactless ticketing, this might be easier.

Conclusion

I believe there’s a solution in there somewhere!

March 21, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Metrolink Trafford Park Line Start Date Announced

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Greater Manchester’s new £350m Trafford Park line will launch on Sunday 22nd March.

Manchester Metrolink keeps growing and will become 96km of track and 93 stops.

 

March 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment

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

The Connecting Viaduct At Pomona On The Manchester Metrolink

These pictures shown the connecting viaduct at Pomona tram stop on the Manchester Metrolink, where the new Trafford Park Line joins the existing network.

This Google Map shows Pomona tram stop.

Note.

  1. The pictures were taken from alongside the canal.
  2. The Trafford Park Line goes off towards the West.
  3. The Eccles Line crosses the canal and goes North towards MediaCityUK and Eccles.
  4. Manchester City Centre is to the East.

The trackbed to the West is mainly on level streets, so this viaduct appears to be the only new substantial bridge or viaduct on the line.

 

 

January 2, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

The New Third Platform At Crumpsall Tram Stop

These pictures show the new third platform at Crumpsall tram stop on the Bury Line of the Manchester Metrolink.

The new platform will be the Northern terminus of the Trafford Park Line.

This Google Map shows the third platform under construction.

The new platform is on the Eastern side of the tracks of the Bury Line through the station.

January 2, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Manchester Metrolink’s New £350 Million Trafford Park Line To Open In April

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

The Wikipedia entry for the Trafford Park Line, says this about the planned opening.

The final stretch of track was laid November 2019, with the first test trams running soon after. In December 2019 it was announced that the line was expected to be opened in April 2020, seven months earlier than originally planned.

I wonder why, the line is opening early.

It would be interesting to know!

It could be the old chestnut of bad planning, with planners putting in a lot of float, so they are not late.

The Junction At Pomona Station

This Google Map shows the junction at Pomona, where the Trafford Park Line leaves the Eccles Line.

I don’t know when the picture was taken, but you can clearly see tracks going West.

Wharfside Tram Stop

This Google Mapshows the Wharfside tram stop.

It does look like there are only a few more tracks to lay.

The Trafford Park Line And The Imperial War Museum North

This Google Map shows the Trafford Park Line threading its way past the IWM North.

The works seem mainly complete.

The Terminus At The Trafford Centre

This Google Map shows the Trafford Centre.

The tram stop will be in the North East of the Centre.

This enlargement shows ithe tram stop more clearly.

Note that the tracks will be extended to the North-West to Port Salford on the other side of the Mancvhester Ship Canal.

Tram Services On The Trafford Park Line

Trams will run between the Trafford Centre and Crumpsall on the Bury Line.

  • Crumpsall has been updated with a third platform.
  • Trams will call at Deansgate-Castlefield, St. Peter’s Square, Piccadilly Gardens, Market Street, Stutenhill and Manchester Victoria station in the City Centre.
  • At present there appear to be no plans to connect the Trafford Centre with Manchester Piccsadilly station.

It looks to be that some passengers will change in the City Centre to get to and from the Trafford Centre.

December 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 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

Football At Rochdale

My trip to the North was partly to see Ipswich play at Rochdale, which is a ground, that at which I’d not seen a match before.

I had been to the ground before, as when I went to all the ninety-two clubs in the Premier and Football Leagues in alphabetical order by public transport, I visited on a very hectic day 31, which is described in 92 Clubs – Day 31 – Rochdale, Rotherham, Scunthorpe, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday.

On this visit, I took the Metrolink to Rochdale from outside the Arndale Centre and then it was a walk of thirty minutes, with the last section up a steep hill.

I did have a guide in a friendly Rochdale supporter.

This Google Map shows the route.

The football ground is in the North-East corner and the red the red arrow indicates  Rochdale Interchange, where the tram terminates.

  • My companion said there used to be a special football bus, but now there is just an occasional regular service.
  • I estimate the distance was about a kilometre and a half.

Going back, a very kind Ipswich supporter and his brother gave me a lift to the tram, which was much more a personal taxi, than mass transit.

It was a good night for the six hundred or so Ipswich fans, as Ipswich won by the ony goal and went back to the top of the League.

Conclusion

Most people seem to have driven to the ground and parked in the surrounding streets. As did my lift!

In London, supporters would be more likely to go to any sporting event on public transport, as it is more frequent and parking doesn’t exist.

As population gets more dense in Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester, public transport will have to get more comprehensive to serve new housing, as the roads will not be able to cope.

I should say, except for getting there, it was a good stadium to visit and the Away seats were some of the best, I’d used in a smaller ground.

 

November 5, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , | Leave a comment