The Anonymous Widower

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

Up The Buxton Line

I took these pictures as my train went between Manchester Piccadilly and Buxton.

It was a hard climb for a poor clapped-out Class 150 train.

March 9, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 1 Comment

Is There Anywhere A Class 319 Flex Train Can’t Go?

I have just seen an early copy of Porterbrook’s brochure for their new Class 319 Flex 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.

So I took 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.

To back this up, trains are currently timed to take 37 minutes to climb from Hazel Grove station to Buxton and 33 minutes for the gravity-assisted return.

A driver once told me, that the brakes on a Class 319 train are up there with the best. So there’s little chance of runaway train syndrome.

Train Services To And From Buxton And Hazel Grove

Under Services in the Wikipedia entry for Buxton, this is said.

There is generally an hourly service daily (including Sundays) between Buxton and Manchester Piccadilly, taking about one hour. The service frequency is enhanced to about half-hourly in the morning and evening peaks. A limited number of trains (currently seven on weekdays in total) work through beyond Manchester, with one train each of to/from Blackpool North, Clitheroe, Barrow-in-Furness, Wigan North Western, Wigan Wallgate, Preston and Bolton.

Note.

  • Of these destinations, several are not likely to be electrified in the near future, but could be reached by a Class 319 Flex.
  • Some would also allow the trains to stretch their legs under the wires of the West Coast Main Line or the Manchester to Preston Line.
  • As the Buxton Line is double-tracked would a more powerful train enable more frequent trains?
  • Buxton station may have had improvements to ease turning trains.
  • At present, Northern don’t seem to run any trains further than between Manchester Piccadilly and Buxton stations, but with the opening of the Ordsall Chord at the end of 2017, running trains past Piccadilly could ease the load on one of Manchester’s main stations.
  • Despite Manchester Piccadilly to Hazel Grove being electrified, at present, no electric trains serve the route.
  • ,Clitheroe station  is probably the most interesting destination, as like the Buxton Line, the Ribble Valley Line  needs trains with some qualities common in mountain goats.

It looks like Buxton is going to get a much improved train service.

It should also be noted, that once the Manchester to Preston line is electrified, all services from Hazel Grove to Manchester and Preston could be run by Class 319 trains, whether they are the Electric or Flex variant.

Can and will the service between Manchester and Hazel Grove via Stockport be a Turn-Up-And-Go four tph electric service from the December 2017 Timetable change?

Range On A Full Tank Of Diesel

Or that might be two tanks, as is there one in each driver car for each engine?

The brochure says.

The Class 319 Flex unit would have the capacity to make five return trips per day for two days before refuelling is required.

That surely is more than adequate.

Could The Buxton Line Be Electrified?

It would be assumed that the Germans, French or Italians would electrify a line like the Buxton Line.

But this is not always the case and I’ve used lines in Germany to reach towns the size of Buxton and the lines are not all electrified.

Electric trains on an electrified line have the advantage of bags of grunt and would handle the route with ease.

But it would cost and it wouldn’t be the easiest of engineering projects. I suspect too, that there would be objections to gantries marching sall over the Peak District

I think with modern technology there might be a better and more affordable way.

The Class 319 Flex is just a first solution.

Comparison With The New Class 195 Trains

I suspect it is unlikely that the new Class 195 trains ordered by Northern will be unable to reach Buxton, but they won’t be in service for a few years.

Comparing the two train types, it would appear.

  • Installed power is about the same.
  • But what about the weight?
  • The Class 319 Flex has 12 First Class seats and 255 Standard Class seats in the brochure, as against 204 seats in a three-car Class 195 train.
  • The Class 319 Flex is a bi-mode that can use electric power, between Manchester and Hazel Grove.

It will be an fascinating comparison: A thirty-year-old British Rail-built train with a bi-mode upgrade against a new Spanish-built diesel multiple unit.

Along The Hope Valley Line To Sheffield

The Hope Valley Line between Manchester and Sheffield has two electrified links at the Manchester end to Piccadilly.

  • Via Hazel Grove and Stockport, where electrification reaches to Hazel Grove
  • Via Guide Bridge, where electrification reaches almost to Hyde North, to serve the electrified Glossop Line.

Theis important route between Manchester and Sheffield has been marked down for new Class 195 trains, but I suspect that the distance is within range of a Class 319 Flex.

The Manchester end of this route could be a fertile area for using Class 319 Flex trains. As a simple example, they could be used to bridge the gap between the electrification on the Glossop Line and Rose Hill Marple station.

Conclusion

Manchester Piccadilly and Buxton may be a tough route, but if a train can can climb to Buxton crush loaded with passengers, there are a lot of benefits to the operator.

  • Electric trains between Manchester Piccadilly and Hazel Grove.
  • Releasing of platform space in Piccadilly when the Ordsall Chord opens.
  • Back-to back services between Buxton and Blackpool, Barrow, Clitheroe and Wigan. I suspect there’s a lot more.
  • A possible two trains per hour to Buxton.
  • Two electric trains per hour to Rose Hill Marple.

And that’s just for starters!

 

March 3, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment