The Anonymous Widower

Liverpool Lime Street Station Has Been Remodelled

I went to Liverpool Lime Street station today and it has been extensively remodelled, as these pictures show.

There are several changes.

Virgins Were Using Platform 9

The most obvious difference on arrival was that the Virgin services from London were using Platform 9, which is on the Southern side of the station, close to the taxi rank.

Taxi Access

So elderly Aunt Esmeralda coming from London to see her Liverpudlian family doesn’t have to go far for a cab.

I also noticed that Norwich services were using Platform 10 and there was a Birmingham New Street service in Platform 7.

So it would appear that longer distance services use the higher numbered platforms.

Not that it matters, as there’s a cab rank on the other side of the station.

Two Stations In One

I have read somewhere, that Liverpool Lime Street station with its pair of Victorian roofs, has been arranged so that the two sides can work independently.

The main reason, is that if engineering work is needed on one side, the other can remain open.

Each half-station utilises.

  • A Victorian roof.
  • A set of approach tracks.
  • Five platforms
  • A large clock
  • A taxi rank.

They also have easy access to the shops and the Underground platform of Merseyrail’s Wirral Line.

Long Platforms

Virgin’s Pendelinos or Class 390 trains come in two lengths; nine and eleven cars.

It looks like some platforms can accommodate, the eleven-car trains, which are over two hundred and sixty metres long.

Note in the pictures how long platforms have been threaded through the bridge at the station throat.

Wide Platforms

The platforms would appear to be wider to allow better circulation of passengers.

Platform 1

The pictures show a wide space to the North of the new Platform 2.

It looks like Platform 2 will share an island with a still to be completed Platform 1.

Platform 0

Is there a space on the far side of Platform 1 for a new Platform 0?

Extra Capacity

Although there is at least one extra platform, the better track layout and signalling will allow more trains to use the station.

Already planned extra services include.

  • TransPennine Express services to Scotland.
  • Transport for Wales services to Cardiff, Chester, Llandudno and Shrewsbury.
  • London Northwestern Railway services to Crewe and London Euston

In addition High Speed Two will add services and some reports say CrossCountry will add more.

Typically, one of Virgin’s Class 390 trains takes about thirty minutes to turn back, whereas East Midlands Trains turn a smaller train in ten minutes less.

Both these trains would need to take on supplies of food and drink, but others probably don’t.

I would expect each platform could handle two long-distance trains per hour (tph).

So could we be looking at ten tph in the five long distance platforms?

I suspect in a few years time, this will be possible, as everybody works out how to use the new station layout.

Long distance trains in a few years time could be.

  • 1 tph – East Midlands Trains to Nottingham/Norwich via Liverpool South Parkway, Warrington and Manchester Piccadilly.
  • 1 tph -London NorthWestern Railway  to London via Runcorn and Crewe
  • 2 tph -London NorthWestern Railway  to Birmingham via Liverpool South Parkway, Runcorn and Crewe
  • 1 tph – TransPennine Express to Newcastle and Edinburgh via Newton-le-Willows and Manchester Victoria
  • 1 tph – TransPennine Express to Scarborough via Newton-le-Willows and Manchester Victoria
  • 1 tph – TransPennine Express to Scotland via Wigan and Preston.
  • 1 tph – Transport for Wales to Chester and Llandudno via Liverpool South Parkway andRuncorn
  • 1 tph – Transport for Wales to Chester and Shrewsbury via Liverpool South Parkway and Runcorn, which could be extended to Cardiff
  • 1 tph – West Coast (currently Virgin) to London via Runcorn

Note.

  1. This totals up to seven tph via Runcorn or Liverpool South Parkway, which will probably have to terminate in platforms 6-10.
  2. East Midlands Trains, London NorthWestern Railway and Virgin appear to use Platforms 6-10.
  3. TransPennine Express appears to be using Platform 3 or 4 at the present time.
  4. At present, Northern services via Liverpool South Parkway and Warrington, seem to be using Platform 6.

It would appear that there could be enough space for High Speed Two services in a dedicated platform in the Platform 6-10 section.

Signalling Issues

The only problem seemed to be a few small signalling issues as platform allocation and information seemed to be suffering a few bugs.

There’s Still Work To Do

Obviously, there is still more work to do to finish off the station.

  • Platform 1 hasn’t been finished.
  • Retail units need to be updated.
  • Bessie Braddock needs to be positioned close to Ken Dodd.

I also think that the station needs a quality hotel and restaurant complex.

Liverpool Lime Street Station Is High Speed Two-Ready

Wikipedia has a section on High Speed Two Rolling Stock, where this is said.

Trains would have a maximum speed of at least 350 km/h (220 mph) and length of 200 metres (660 ft). Two units could be joined together for a 400-metre (1,300 ft) train.

Trains will be of two types.

  • Standard European-sized trains, that will run between new High Speed Two stations like Euston, Old Oak Common and Birmingham Curzon Street.
  • Classic-Compatible trains, built to a British loading gauge, that can use existing tracks and platforms.

It should be noted that an individual High Speed Two train will be shorter than the eleven-car Class 390 trains.

This means that Liverpool Lime Street and Birmingham New Street, Carlisle, Crewe, Glasgow Central, Manchester Piccadilly, Preston and others will be able to accommodate the new Classic-Compatible trains.

According to the section called Proposed Service Pattern in the Wikipedia entry for High Speed Two, Liverpool Lime Street station will get two tph, when Phase One of High Speed Two opens

  • I would expect that High Speed Two will have the luxury of a dedicated platform.
  • On the other hand, Manchester Piccadilly station is getting four high speed platforms and three tph
  • When Phase Two opens most services will probably call at Birmingham Interchange.

So is Liverpool getting a worse deal compared to its arch-rival?

  • For a start a single platform could probably handle three tph, which is one train every twenty minutes.
  • An eleven-car Class 390 train has 589 seats.
  • Wikipedia says that a full-length High Speed Two train has 1,100 seats, so each Classic-Compatible train will have 550 seats.
  • Manchester Piccadilly has space to expand the station, whereas Liverpool Lime Street is hemmed in.
  • Liverpool Lime Street is solely a terminal station, whereas Manchester Piccadilly has both through and terminal platforms.
  • A large number of Liverpool’s local services are handled on a platform, that is deep below the station.

I would say that Liverpool Lime Street station’s handling of High Speed Two, will be a classic case of Liverpool doing what the City does best – making the most of limited resources.

After all Liverpool’s national dish is scouse, which is a stew often made from leftovers.

To summarise platform use after High Speed Two arrives in Liverpool, it could be something like this.

Platforms 1 to 5 – Northern with one or two platforms for TransPennine Express.

Platforms 6 to 10 – One each for High Speed Two and West Coast, with the others shared by the other operators.

Liverpool is lucky in that it has three routes out of the City to the East and now Lime Street station has been remodelled, they can be used efficiently.

More Use Of Merseyrail

Merseyrail could be key to getting even more capacity out of Lime Street station.

Some Northern services via Warrington have to leave from Platform 6 at present to go via Liverpool South Parkway.

But Merseyrail have ambitions to use their new Class 777 trains to extend from Hunts Cross station to Warrington Central station.

The one problem with accessing Merseyrail at Liverpool Lime Street, is that there is no direct connection to the Northern Line, which goes between Hunts Cross and Liverpool South Parkway in the South and Kirkby, Omskirk and Southport in the North. I usually walk two hundred metres to Liverpool Central, but a better connection needs to be provided. Perhaps a subway with a travelator is needed.

Alternatively, as all High Speed Two and West Coast services will stop at Runcorn, would it be sensible to add another stop at Liverpool South Parkway to change for the Northern Line and Warrington?

Conclusion

I have come to some conclusions.

Architecture And Design

This is said in the Wikipedia entry for Liverpool Lime Street station.

Opened in August 1836, it is the oldest grand terminus mainline station still in use in the world.

Manchester Piccadilly opened in 1842 and Euston opened in 1837, but both have been extensively rebuilt, whereas the architect of Lime Street would probably recognise his creation.

The design of Liverpool Lime Street station seems to have enabled this sympathetic remodelling, that will allow more services to the City.

Didn’t the Victorian architect do well!

Liverpool Connectivity

Liverpool is getting a station with increased capacity, that will enable new routes to the city from Wales and the Welsh Borders, Scotland and more places in England.

The only minor problem is the poor connection between Liverpool Lime Street station and Merseyrail’s Northern Line, which I think could be improved by stopping more trains at Liverpool South Parkway station.

Liverpool And Manchester To Scotland

In the 1960s, these services were organised in the following way.

  • Separate trains ran from Liverpool and Manchester to Preston.
  • At Preston, the two trains joined and ran to Carstairs.
  • At Carstairs, the trains split and one went to Edinburgh and the other to Glasgow.

It wasw an efficient way to provide the service.

With modern trains, that can couple and uncouple automatically and where passengers can walk through the train, there may be scope for doing similar in the future.

Liverpool As A Major Tourist Hub

The new services will improve Liverpool’s profile as a major tourist hub.

The new services will put Liverpool in the middle of an area with lots of attractions, that can be reached by train.

  • North Wales
  • The Lakes
  • The Pennines
  • The Golf Coast, with three Open Championship courses.
  • Blackpool

And then there’s Liverpool itself!

I was talking to a station guy in Liverpool yesterday and we both felt with connections to Scotland, more tourists would use Liverpool for a stopover on the trip between London and Scotland.

The new services will certainly increase the number of visitors to Liverpool

Merseyside’s Prosperity

I believe that the improved services will increase the prosperity of the whole region and in a few years time, the pain of this summer’s closure of the station will be well and truly forgotten.

Tailpiece

Ever since, I first came to Liverpool in 1965, the train services and Lime Street station in particular has needed improvement.

The creation of the Wirral Line loop and the Northern Line were a good start, but only now after my visit, is it apparent that there was more improvement to come.

Why wasn’t the track and platform layout at Liverpool Lime Street station sorted out decades ago?

 

August 1, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 3 Comments

Improvements On Platforms 13 And 14 At Manchester Piccadilly Station

The through platforms 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly station have in the past when I’ve used them been very congested and crowded.

But look at these pictures.

Compare them with this picture taken in April 2018.

Where has all the platform clutter in the earlier picture gone?

It certainly enabled travellers to get on and off the trains easier, although many were still crowding around the stairs at the Western end of the platforms.

I asked a Network Rail guy on the platform, if it was better without the buildings on the platform. He said two things.

  • Passengers don’t move down the platforms.
  • Drivers don’t tend to stop in the best place for passengers.

I do wonder, if the large number of two-car trains, that seem to use the platform doesn’t help.

The pictures show, that I’d arrived in a six-car Class 185 train, which because of its length stopped towards the Eastern end of the platform.

There was a bit of crowding as the train loaded, but not as bad as that on the four-car Class 319 train to Blackpool, when I left. But it was a sunny Saturday!

I do wonder, if passengers think, that their train will be only two cars, they tend to get to the platform early and create overcrowding.

It seems to me, that it will be quite likely, that the length of trains will be increased in the next few years.

  • As electrification increases, some of Northern’s two-car diesel trains will be replaced with four-car electric trains.
  • Transport for Wales have said they’ll run longer trains.
  • TransPennine Express will replace the Class 185 trains with longer units.

Although this will probably increase traffic to these platforms, paradoxically, the longer trains might reduce congestion.

It should also be noted that most trains going through Platforms 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly station call at one or more of the following stations.

In addition, Salford Central station may be expanded with extra platforms.

The more stations each train calls at in Central Manchester, the less will be the passenger footfall at each station, as not everybody wants to use Piccadilly.

As an aside, I wonder if more trains should call at Deansgate, which has excellent Manchester Metrolink connections, which are certainly less walking than those at Piccadilly.

Conclusion

I’m led to the conclusion, that the various plans for Manchester’s railways may lead to taking the pressure from the through platforms at Piccadilly.

By making it easier for passengers on these platforms, better access and facilities can be added as required.

I think it is highly likely, that with modern digital signalling and improvements to Deansgate, Oxford Road and Piccadilly stations, that it may be possible to avopid adding extra platforms at Piccadilly,

 

 

 

July 25, 2018 Posted by | Travel | | Leave a comment

Is It Back To The Future In Manchester?

In the 1970s British Rail, proposed three tunnel projects in the North

  • A Loop and Link  in Liverpool that linked railways from North, South and the Wirral underneath the City Centre.
  • A tunnel under Newcastle.
  • The Picc-Vic Tunnel,  under Manchester.

All three tunnels were designed to connect the railways on both sides of the cities.

  • Liverpool got the much-loved and successful Northern and Wirral Lines of Merseyrail in 1977.
  • Newcastle got the much-loved and successful Tyne and Wear Metro in 1980.
  • Manchester got nothing, as Harold Wilson cancelled it, like Maplin Airport and the Channel Tunnel.

Am I right in thinking that the Channel Tunnel was resurrected later and opened in 1994? It is now much-loved and successful!

Finally, the Government and a lot of opposition MPs and unions have decided that Maplin be replaced by a third runway at Heathrow.

Will that be cancelled by Boris, David, Jeremy, Ruth or Vince?

Today, this article has been published on Rail Magazine, which is entitled Option For Underground Station At Manchester Piccadilly.

Apparently, to integrate Northern Powerhouse Rail into the HS2 station at Manchester Piccadiily station, one option is to go underground.

So are those ideas and surveys of the 1970s being looked at for a solution?

 

July 9, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Karen’s Travel Problem

My friend, Karen, has a train problem.

She lives in Leeds and needs to go to Milton Keynes regularly.

The journey is difficult with often two changes and the need to go across Manchester.

But not from Monday!

It appears that under the new timetable, all the XX:50 trains from Leeds, go direct to Piccadilly over the Ordsall Chord and now give you twenty-five minutes to catch a direct train to Milton Keynes.

The total journey time is just under three hours.

The return journey seems quicker too!

It will be interesting to see, how much the Ordsall Chord changes journeys across Manchester!

May 19, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Passenger Crowding On Platform 14 At Manchester Piccadilly Station

After changing trains at Salford  Crescent station, I arrived  on Platform 13 at Manchester Piccadilly station.

Everybody says the two island platforms need more capacity and another two platforms.

This picture shows a train in Platform 14.

Note all the passengers alongside the train at the bottom of the stairs. Many of whom are waiting for later trains.

There are also few passengers waiting on the platform.

Consider.

I am writing this at eight in the morning and there are seventeen trains in total calling at Platforms 13 and 14, in the next hour.

  • As one train starts from Platform 13, that is just nine trains per hour (tph) on each platform.
  • The two platform station at Canada Water on the  London Overground handles sixteen tph and in 2016-17, around 25 million passengers used the station.
  • By comparison Manchester Piccadilly station handles around twenty-seven million passengers on fourteen platforms.

Because of the numbers of trains and passengers involved, I believe strongly that a rebuild of Platforms 13 and 14 could raise the numbers to those currentl achieved at Canada Water.

So what are the differences between Platform 13 and 14 ar Manchester Piccadilly and Canada Water?

  • Both were originally built in the Victorian era.
  • Both have been improved since 2000.
  • The Manchester Platforms have a lift, two staircases and an up escalator, whereas each platform at Canada Water has a lift, and at least one of both a staircase and an  escalator.
  • Access at the Manchester Platform is all at one end, whereas access at Canada Water is to the centre of the platforms, where there is a wide lobby set back from the platform.
  • The Manchester Platforms are narrower, than those at Canada Water.
  • Canada Water has the advantages that it is only served by Class 378 trains and there is level access between platform and all trains.
  • Canada Water is a well-designed light and airy below ground station, whereas the Manchester Platforms have all the dtyle and charm of a Victorian toilet block.

So what would I do to Platform 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly?

  • If all trains were at least four carriages, this might encourage people to spread out, instead of hanging about at the bottom of the main stairs.
  • If platforms could be released in the main section of Manchester Piccadilly station, by virtue of the Ordsall , this might help.
  • Increase the width of the platforms.
  • Add more escalators.
  • Put an enlarged waiting room on top of the current platforms, with quality information, so passengers can wait in the warm, with perhaps a cup of coffee.

In addition, the ultimate solution would be to built a long footbridge to connect the Southern end of all platforms.

It would be wide

Each pair of platforms would have lift and escalator  access to the footbridge.

  • It could have a lift to street level at both ends.
  • I believe that this could be built, without disrupting the current traffic through the station.

Hopefully, this will all be sorted, when the HS2 station is built.

If something like it is not built, it will be a very long walk, between the HS2 platforms and Platforms 13 and 14.

 

April 17, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Wires, New Platforms And Sidings At Blackpool North Station – 17th April 2018

I took these pictures as I entered Blackpool station.

Note.

  1. There are now six straight platforms at the station.
  2. The platforms are long and can probably take an eleven-car Class 390 train.
  3. There seems to be five or six long sidings for trains, just outside the station.
  4. There is certainly evidence of ongoing work.

They certainly seem to be expecting a lot of trains.

If not soon, the station is future proofed.

What Trains Will Run To Blackpool?

I think the routes from Blackpool should have  a minimum frequency of at least two tph.So the base local service should be.

  • Two tph – Blackpool North to Liverpool Lime Street  Class 319 train
  • Two tph – Blackpool North to Manchester Airport – Class 319 train
  • Two tph – Blackpool South nto Colne – Class 769 train

Other routes could include these services.

  • 1-2 tph  – Blackpool North to York via Leeds
  • 1-2 tph – Blackpool North to Hazel Grove via Manchester Piccadilly – Class 319 train
  • 1-2 tph – Blackpool North to Huddersfield via Manchester Victoria.
  • 1-2 tph – Blackpool North to Ormskirk via Preston – Class 769 trains.

I wrote about the last service in Northern’s Plans For Between Preston And Ormskirk. But as Blackpool North station has six terminal platforms, it might be a better terminus than Preston.

Even if all of these services were to be two tph, this would only be fourteen tph between Preston and Kirkham and Wesham stations.

But the signalling is now modern and Northern have ordered a lot of  100 mph trains.

Obviously, Network Rail have got to finish the electrification.

 

April 17, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Trains Per Hour Between Manchester Piccadilly And Buxton Stations From May 21st

If you are going between Manchester Piccadilly and Buxton stations tomorrow, just after ten in the morning, the trains are as follows.

  • 10:49 – 11:58 – 59 minutes
  • 11:49 – 12:58 – 59 minutes

But do the journey on May 21st and the trains will be as follows.

  • 10:11 – 11:06 – 55 minutes
  • 10:47 – 11:49 – 62 minutes
  • 11:11 – 12:06 – 55 minutes
  • 11:47 – 12:49 – 62 minutes

Returning on or after May 21st, the trains will be as follows.

  • 10:02 – 10:56 – 54 minutes
  • 10:34 – 11:36 – 62 minutes
  • 11:02 – 11:56 – 54 minutes
  • 11:34 – 12:36 – 62 minutes

Note.

  1. Two extra trains have been added to the service, to give two trains per hour (tph)
  2. The faster trains stop at Stockport, Davenport, Woodsmoor, Hazel Grove, Disley, New Mills NewTown, Whaley Bridge and Chapel-en-le-Frith.
  3. The slower trains have additional stops at Levenshulme, Heaton Chapel, Furnace Vale and Dove Holes.

As the times aren’t that different to the current ones, I suspect that the timings could be achieved by the current Class 156 trains, that work the route.

I have seen an early copy of Porterbrook’s brochure for the Class 319 Flex train, which is now the Class 769 train.

This is an extract.

Porterbrook determined that the most arduous route would be Manchester Piccadilly to Buxton, which has a steep gradient and multiple stops along its 25 mile route 9(8 miles of which is electrified). This anlysis was included to give confidence that the Class 319 Flex would be comparable to existing Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) technology across a range of different routes, stopping patterns and gradients.

Take a quick look at the Buxton Line on Wikipedia.

This is said.

Due to steep gradients on this line, Class 142 and Class 153 DMUs are banned from the section of line between Hazel Grove and Buxton. Therefore, services to Buxton are worked by Class 150 and Class 156 DMUs. Also Class 158 DMUs were once blocked from operating on the line to Buxton due to the possibility of the large roof-mounted air vents striking low bridges on the route.

Note the two extracts both say “to Buxton”, as obviously, the trains can use the free power boost of gravity on the way down.

If Class 769 trains were to be used on the Manchester Piccadilly to Buxton service, the following would apply.

  • Between Manchester Piccadilly and Hazel Grove, the trains could use the electrification.
  • They are four-car trains as opposed to the two-car Class 156 trains that currently run the service.
  • The service could be extended on the other side of Manchester, when the electrification is finally complete.

I think there’s every chance that Northern are preparing to run Class 769 trains, on the route for which they were designed.

Instead of just one two-car tph, as at present, Buxton could be getting two four-car tph.

Capacity could be increased by four times.

 

 

April 10, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Does A New Service Start Between Wigan North Western And Alderley Edge Stations Using Class 769 Trains On May 20th?

On the Wikipedia entry for Class 769 trains, this is said about the introduction into service of the trains by Northern.

Scheduled to begin entering service in May 2018, Northern plans to deploy its Class 769 units on the Windermere branch line and also their Manchester Airport to Windermere, Wigan North Western to Alderley Edge and Wigan North Western to Stalybridge services

I have looked at the National Rail timetable for the 19th of May and looked up getting between Wigan North Western and Alderley Edge station involves a change at Manchester Piccadilly station.

But look at the journey on the 21st of May and there is an hourly direct train.

  • First train – 08:50
  • Last train – 19:50
  • Journey time – 78 minutes

The train will stop at Hindley, Westhoughton, Bolton, Salford Crescent, Deansgate, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Piccadilly, Levenshulme, Heaton Chapel, Stockport, Cheadle Hulme, Handforth and Wilmslow.

In the other direction, the service is as follows.

  • Hourly
  • First train – 06:49
  • Last train – 19:48
  • Journey time – 70 minutes

It is an ideal route for a Class 769 train.

  • Between Wigan North Western and Bolton is not electrified.
  • I also suspect that Bolton and Salford Crescent won’t have the wires completed by the 20th of May.

Manchester will be getting another cross-city service courtesy of a thirty-year-old electric train, with a couple of diesel engines slung underneath.

Wigan North Western And Stalybridge

An hourly service from Wigan North Western to Stalybridge also appears to be in the timetable from the 21st of May.

  • First train – 08:08
  • Last train – 22:50
  • Journey time – 59 minutes

The trains will stop at Hindley, Westhoughton, Bolton, Moses Gate, Farnworth, Kearsley (Manchester), Salford Crescent, Salford Central, Manchester Victoria and Ashton-under-Lyne.

In the other direction, the service is as follows.

  • First train – 06:30
  • Last train – 21:29
  • Journey time – 63-66 minutes

It is another ideal route for a Class 769 train.

  • Between Wigan North Western and Salford Central not fully electrified.

As the current service between Wigan Wallgate and Stalybridge seems to have been discontinued, it looks like Pacers and elderly diesels are being replaced by electric trains.

Conclusion

It looks to me, that as the electrification through Bolton and Salford Crescent, that Northern are doing the best they can with what they have available.

I estimate that Northern will need around six trains to run these two services, one of which is new and the other a change of terminus from Wallgate to North Western at Wigan.

 

 

April 10, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

More Train Services Between Leeds, Huddersfield And Manchester

This article on the Huddersfield Daily Examiner is entitled Important Timetable Changes For Huddersfield Rail Passengers Heading To Manchester.

It is a good explanation of the major changes that will take place to TransPennine Express services after the 20th of May.

  • There will be four fast trains between Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester Victoria station
  • There will be two slow trains between Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester Piccadilly station
  • But nothing is said about Northern services.

I suspect, it will be sorted by the time the service starts.

I would check before you travel.

Hopefully, if you want to go to Piccadilly and get on a train that only goes to Victoria, it will be a same platform interchange to continue, your journey if your ticket is marked Manchester Stastions.

I would assume that you won’t be able to touch in with a contactless card on this short journey as is becoming the norm in a lot of the World.

Ticketing in the North is so Nineteenth Century.

 

April 7, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 5 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