The Anonymous Widower

A Map, An M & S, But No Clock At Manchester Victoria Station

Manchester Victoria station has improved recently, with a map and an M & S Simply Food.

But it doesn’t have a proper clock.

June 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The Light And The Dark Of It!

I find Manchester Victoria station annoying.

In some parts like the tram station, the light is good, but much of it is dark and dingy.

There are below ground stations with higher light levels than some parts of Victoria station.

I know the weather wasn’t bright on Saturday, but station lighting should be able to cope.

June 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Grayling: No Solution To Oxford Road Woes

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Place North West.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said there is no “simple, quick, non-disruptive solution” to improving journeys on one of the most congested rail routes in and out of Manchester, arguing the cost of the original scheme was “way out of kilter”.

Plans to extend platforms at Oxford Road station have been mooted for a number of years, and were designed to take advantage of the completion of the Ordsall Chord to allow more frequent trains between Piccadilly, Victoria, and beyond.

The more I read about the problems of the Castlefield corridor through Manchester, the more I’m coming to the conclusion, that British Rail’s three tunnel scheme for the North was the right solution.

Liverpool

Liverpool got the Loop And Link Project, which is described like this in Wikipedia.

The major engineering works required to integrate the Northern and Wirral lines became known as the ‘Loop’ and ‘Link’ Project. The ‘Loop’ was the Wirral Line tunnel and the ‘Link’ the Northern Line tunnel, both under Liverpool’s city centre. The main works were undertaken between 1972 and 1977. A further project, known as the Edge Hill Spur, would have integrated the City Lines into the city centre underground network. This would have meshed the eastern section of the city into the core underground electric city centre section of the network, releasing platforms at mainline Lime Street station for mid to long haul routes.

The Edge Hill Spur was never built and if it had, it may have created the extra capacity, that Liverpool Lime Street station has now finally got, but several years ago.

Liverpool’s Underground railways are getting a new fleet of Class 777 trains and will be expanded in the next few years.

British Rail’s scheme for Liverpool has been successful.

Although, I am surprised that the layout of a single-track loop tunnel, that is used to terminate the Wirral Line, has not been copied more.

Newcastle

Newcastle got tunnels under the city, to join up the Tyne and Wear Metro in the late 1970s.

The Metro is now getting a new fleet of trains and will be further expanded.

British Rail’s scheme for Newcastle has been successful.

Manchester

Manchester had a scheme in the pipeline called the Picc-Vic Tunnel.

This Proposal section in Wikipedia gives a full description of the project. This is the first paragraph.

The South-East Lancashire and North-East Cheshire Public Transport Executive (SELNEC PTE) – the local transport authority which became the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) in 1974 (now Transport for Greater Manchester – TfGM) – made a proposal in 1971 to connect the unjoined railways running through Manchester city centre under the Picc-Vic scheme. The Picc-Vic proposal envisaged joining the two halves of the rail network by constructing new tunnels under the city centre, connecting Manchester’s two main railway stations, Piccadilly and Victoria. This new underground railway would be served by three new underground stations, joining together the regional, national and local rail networks with an underground rapid transit system for Manchester.

It also gives these three objectives for the scheme.

  • To improve the distribution arrangements from the existing railway stations which are on the periphery of the central core
  • To link the separated northern and southern railway systems
  • To improve passenger movement within the central area.

This is also said.

It formed part of a four-phase, Long Term Strategy for GMPTE over 25 years, which included bus priority and an East-West railway network, as well as a light rapid transport system.

The scheme was cancelled by Harold Wilson’s government, partly because he believed that railways were of the past and that everybody would be able to afford their own car and wouldn’t need to use trains.

It should also be remembered that his government also cancelled the Channel Tunnel and London’s Third Airport at Maplin.

It’s funny, but I thought, I’d used the Channel Tunnel several times. Perhaps, Harold Wilson didn’t get his out-of-kilter thinking sufficiently into the minds of Civil Servants. Although, there is still the Treasury’s periodic attempts to kill High Speed Two. But that is driven by the belief of the average Oxford graduate, that there is nothing worth visiting North of Watford.

The Picc-Vic Tunnel may not have completely solved Manchester’s rail connectivity, but it is my belief that it would have been a good start.

A Few Random Thoughts

These are a few random thoughts on the various schemes in Manchester.

Development of Piccadilly And Victoria After A Picc-Vic Tunnel

One of the reasons for cancellation, was that after the building of the tunnel, two large stations would still be maintained in the City.

Looking at various schemes across Europe including Kassel and Leipzig in Germany, where central tunnels have been built, this releases the terminals for development with smaller numbers of platforms.

I think if the Picc-Vic Tunnel had been built, then Piccadilly and Victoria might have morphed into combined through and terminal station like the excellent London Bridge. The released space at Piccadilly would have allowed High Speed Two to be integrated.

But of course, the elite in the Civil Service isn’t interested in High Speed Trains, except on their holidays in France.

TransPennines New Trains

Greater Anglia needed to have new rolling stock for services between London and Norwich.

They needed trains with following.

  1. 100 mph running
  2. Eight coaches
  3. Powerful traction
  4. Short station dwell times.
  5. High quality.

So they ordered a fleet of new Class 745 trains.

  • 100 mph running
  • Twelve coaches
  • Walk-through trains
  • 757 seats
  • Double doors for easy entry and exit.

It’s also rumoured that platform height will be adjusted so that that buggy-pushers and wheelchair-users will have level access between train and platform at all stations.

  • If you want to do Norwich-in-90 for all trains, then a short station dwell time is essential.
  • It also means if passenger numbers need another station to be added to a route, the extra stop only blows a small hole in the schedule, as opposed to a large one for a train of Mark 3 coaches.
  • I have a feeling Greater Anglia are aiming to send all their disabled ramps to the scrapyard.

So what trains have TransPennine ordered?

AQll these trains will have single-doors at both end of each car. That’s classic crap design!

It will be interesting to see the average dwell time of a train on the Castlefield Corridor and compare it with that of Class 745 trains calling at Ipswich, Colchester and Chelmsford.

My money’s on Swiss clockwork!

Northern’s New Trains

Northern’s new Class 195 and Class 331 trains appear to have two sets of double-doors on each side of each car.

Now that’s more like it!

Improving Throughput On The Castlefield Corridor

If you look at successful high-capacity lines with a lot of stopping trains like most lines on the London Underground, Thameslink the Tyne and Wear Metro and the Merseyrail Northern Line, all trains are the same.

One of the problems with the trains through Castlefield, is that there are a lot of diffeent trains. So doors on your train may be in a different position to those on the previous train.

This means that passengers will be more likely to be in the wrong place, which means loading takes longer.

It is probably too much to get identical trains running on the route, but TransPennine’s trains with end doors will make matters worth for capacity.

I don’t think, any train should be allowed on the route, unless it has two sets of double-doors on each side of all cars.

The route should also have digital signalling.

If the North London Line can handle eight passenger and two freight trains per hour, then surely the Castlefield Corridor can do the same.

Passenger Behaviour

I was chatting to a station guy on Platform 14 at Piccadilly, who had also worked on the London Underground.

He told me, that Londoners obey his instructions to stand-back, whereas Mancunians don’t!

I watched for about twenty minutes and I think because the trains are rather bad time keepers, when one arrives everybody wants to get on immediately.

Single doors on TransPennine’s trains will make this behaviour worse!

Conclusion

I think Chris Grayling mades a good summary of the problems of doing major work on a busy passenger and freight corridor through a major city.

The only way to deal with the problems of the Castlefield Corridor, is a series of small improvements to the existing system.

  • All trains through the corridor must have two double-doors on each side of each car.
  • Digital signalling must be installed.
  • Platform access must be improved with lots of lifts and escalators.

I also feel that if the trains were running to the timetable, then passengers wouldn’t crowd the platforms.

 

 

 

May 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Tram-Trains At Manchester Victoria Station

In Could A Class 399 Tram-Train With Batteries Go Between Manchester Victoria And Rochdale/Bury Bolton Street/Rawtenstall Stations?, I speculated on how tram-trains from Rochdale, Bury Bolton Street and Rawtenstall stations might join the Manchester Metro Link at Manchester Victoria station.

I showed this Google Map of the lines at Manchester Victoria.

On my weekend trip to the North, I took these pictures yesterday from the Metrolink platforms at Manchester Victoria.

I can’t believe that it would be the most difficult track design project to allow tram-trains to swap between the rail and tram networks at this point.

The bigger problem, is probably to decide, where the tram-trains would go on the other side of Manchester.

On the other hand, they could use electrified rail lines to Bolton or Wigan North Western.

  • The performance and capacity of a Class 399 tram-train is very comparable to a Pacer.
  • Wigan North Western station has three South-facing bay platforms.

Manchester’s Metrolink designers are going to have a lot of fun.

February 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Could A Class 399 Tram-Train With Batteries Go Between Manchester Victoria And Rochdale/Bury Bolton Street/Rawtenstall Stations?

In Rossendale Reopening Prospect, I looked at a proposal to run a new service between Manchester Victoria and Bury Bolton Street stations.

Could this route be run by a Class 399 tram-train with a battery capability?

These tram-trains would be very similar to the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles, that have been specified for the South Wales Metro.

  • Wikipedia gives the weight of the vehicle as 66 tonnes.
  • Manchester Victoria has an altitude of 44 metres
  • Bury has an altitude of 100 metres.
  • Rochdale has an altitude of 137 metres.
  • Rawtenstall has an altitude of 174 metres.
  • I will assume 200 passengers at 90 Kg. each, which gives a weight of 12 tonnes.

Using Omni’s Potential Energy Calculator gives the following.

  • Manchester Victoria to Bury Bolton Street has an increase in potential energy of 12 kWh.
  • Manchester Victoria to Rochdale has an increase in potential energy of 20 kWh.
  • Manchester Victoria to Rawtenstall has an increase in potential energy of 28 kWh.

When you consider that a Class 230 train has 400 kWh of batteries in a two-car train, I don’t think that there will be any problem fitting batteries big enough to take a Class 399 tram-train from Manchester Victoria to Bury Bolton Street, Rochdale or Rawstenstall stations under battery power with a full load of passengers.

  • The batteries would be charged in Manchester Victoria station.
  • Returning to Manchester Victoria station would use a small amount of battery power, with some assistance from Newton’s friend; gravity.
  • The batteries would get a certain amount of charge from the regenerative braking of the tram-trains.

This Google Map shows the Eastern approaches into Manchester Victoria station.

Note.

  1. The four through platforms numbered 3 to 6.
  2. The two bay platforms numbered 1 and 2.
  3. The four platform faces and three tracks of the Metrolink.

Having seen several tram-train systems all over Europe, I believe it would be possible to connect tram-trains running on batteries on the Calder Valley Line to the Manchester Metrolink at Manchester Victoria station.

  • Going from Manchester to Bury Bolton Street, Rochdale or Rawtenstall, the tram-train would stop in the Manchester Victoria tram-stop, drop the pantograph and then continue on its way under battery power.
  • Returning from the North, the tram-train would stop in the Manchester Victoria tram-stop, raise the pantograph and then continue on its way using power from the overhead wires.
  • Batteries would be charged whilst running through Manchester.

There couldn’t be too many tram-train systems that would be easier to build than this?

It is interesting to note that Hebden Bridge station is just twenty-three miles from Manchester Victoria station and has an altitude of 190 metres.

So would it be possible for a Class 399 tram-train to reach Hebden Bridge station on battery power? I very much think it would be!

Class 399 Tram-Trains And Class 156 Trains

Class 156 trains are one of the better workhorses of the railways in the North and despite their age, they scrub up well.

If their performance is compared to that of a Class 399 tram-train, they are not that different.

  • Noise and vibration of the electric tram-train is obviously much lower.
  • The modern interior of the tram-train is geared to the needs of passengers.
  • Passenger capacity of the two vehicles is also about the same.
  • In Karlsruhe, tram-trains travel for up to 100 miles from the centre of the city.

Both Karlsruhe and Sheffield use three-car tram-trains, but Valencia uses much longer ones, so on heavily-used routes larger tram-trains could be used.

I doubt there would be many complaints, if a Class 156 service were to be replaced with one run by Class 399 tram-trains.

Electrification Of The Calder Valley Line

Electrifying the Calder Valley Line with 25 KVAC overhead wires as far as Rochdale station, would certainly make running to Hebden Bridge station possible.

  • That electrification  would also mean that electric trains could be turned-back at Rochdale station, just as diesel trains are now!
  • I have flown my helicopter along the route and it looks like of the seven or eight bridges on the route, mostly appear to be modern structures for new roads or motorways.
  • As 25 KVAC overhead electrification is currently being erected between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge, a spur to Rochdale would be very much a simple addition.

It could be a very useful short length of electrification.

Tram-Trains In Manchester

This article on Rail Technology Magazine was puiblished yesterday and is entitled Plans For Tram-Trains In Manchester Unveiled As Grayling And Burnham Mull Expansion Of Metrolink.

Conclusion

Could we see tram-trains running from Bury Bolton Street, Hebden Bridge, Rawtenstall and Rochdale into Manchester Victoria and then taking to the existing tram network?

If you’ve ever been to Karlsruhe, as I have to see the Class 399 tram-trains German cousins, you wouldn’t rule out anything.

That would include tram-train services to Blackburn, Buxton, Chester, Glossop, Hebden Bridge, Sheffield, Southport and Wigan.

 

 

 

January 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Rossendale Reopening Prospect

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the February 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the opening two paragraphs.

A blend of heritage and commuter operations could be on the cards in Lancashire, if Rossendale Council’s plans proceed.

The borough is the only one in Lancashire without a main line rail service. A report commissioned by the council in partnership with Lancashire County Council suggests co-operating with the heritage East Lancashire Railway, which runs from Heywood to Rawstenstall, to introduce such a rail link for the borough.

Yesterday, I had a comment read out on the BBC, as I discussed in Wake Up To Money – New Stations.

Wake Up To Money yesterday was broadcast from Darwen, which is only a valley away from Rossendale.

One of the complaints on the program was about crowded roads and bad transport links to Manchester and Manchester Airport.

It looks to me, that the proposed Rossendale services will fulfil a similar need.

The main objective appears to be to create good links to Manchester and Manchester Airport, with a secondary objective of creating a link across the Pennines to Leeds with a change at Rochdale.

The article gives more details of the proposal.

Track

The plan envisages reinstating the route between Rawtenstall and Castleton Junction on the Calder Valley Line.

The section between Rawtenstall and Heywood stations, via Bury Bolton Street station is the heritage line of the East Lancashire Railway (ELR). It is best described as predominately single-track with passing loops.

The article says this about improving the track.

The section of the ELR from Bury Bolton Street to Heywood is envisaged as returning to Network Rail control but with the ELR having access. To facilitate timetabling of trains along the stretch, some double-tracking is expected to be required, although this is suggested to be a modest investment compared to most reopening schemes. Having the ELR on board as a co-operative partner is seen as key to the scheme’s success.

Having flown my virtual helicopter along the line, it looks to me, that it could become another scenic route out of Manchester.

Castleton Junction

This Google Map shows Castleton Junction, where the East Lancashire Line meets the Calder Valley Line.

Note.

  1. The Calder Valley Line runs North-South.
  2. The ELR goes off to the West.
  3. Castleton station is in the North-East corner of the map.

What was or is the large site to the North-West of the junction?

The Junction will need to be upgraded and resignalled.

Electrification

It would be very unlikely, that the route will be electrified.

Although, I suppose there is a chance, that the Calder Valley Line might be electrified, to create an electrified route between Leeds and Manchester Victoria.

If this were to happen, then there would be electrification between Manchester Victoria and Rochdale.

Castleton Junction, where the new route would join the Calder Valley Line would be electrified.

This would make it easier and more likely for battery-electric trains to work the new route.

Possible Routes

Three routes are suggesting in the article.

  1. Manchester Victoria and Bury Bolton Street
  2. Bury Bolton Street and Rochdale
  3. Bury Bolton Street and Rawtenstall – Peak-Hour shuttle.

It is suggested that the third route would be run by the ELR.

Rolling Stock

The article says this about rolling stock.

In terms of rolling stock, a suggested option is the use of Vivarail Class 230 units, operating under either diesel-electric or battery power. These could be used for ELR shuttle services in addition to or instead of existing heritage stock, as well as for services from Bury to Manchester.

The Class 230 trains are an obvious choice, but I think that other trains could also be suitable.

These are my thoughts.

Class 230 Trains

I described a ride in a Class 230 train in Battery Class 230 Train Demonstration At Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway.

The Class 230 train would have these characteristics.

  • The three-car train has a useful capacity of around 300 passengers.
  • The range on battery power should enable a service between Bury Bolton Road and Manchester Victoria stations.
  • The batteries can be charged in under ten minutes.
  • The operating speed is 60 mph.
  • The trains have been designed to be easy to service and this can be done on a remote basis.
  • The trains are of an age, to fit in well on a heritage railway.

The trains also have the advantage of large windows for looking at the scenery.

The trains would need to be charged at the end of the route and I suspect that Vivarail’s fast charging system would handle this in the terminal stations.

Class 769 Trains

Class 769 trains are electro-diesel trains, that use their diesel engines, where there is no 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

They are four-car trains with a passenger capacity of over 300 passengers.

They would have a very big advantage for the train operator.

Services across Manchester are often paired to give travellers the chance to do cross-city journeys without changing trains.

Using Class 769 trains would enable more services to be paired up.

Class 399 Tram-Trains

Class 399 tram-trains are under trial in Sheffield and they will also be used on the South Wales Metro.

The terrain in Rossendale involves a hundred metre or so climb from Bury Bolton Street to Rawtenstall. Rochdale is perhaps fifty metres higher than Bury Bolton Street.

Consider a Class 399 tram/train, working between Bury Bolton Street and Rawtenstall stsations.

  • Wikipedia gives the weight of the vehicle as 66 tonnes.
  • The altitude difference is 120 metres.
  • I will assume 200 passengers at 90 Kg. each, which gives a weight of 12 tonnes.

This means that the train has a increase of potential energy of 25 kWh at Rawtenstall station. This would be easily stored in an appropriately-sized traction battery.

It would appear that tram-trains should be able to climb to Rawtenstall, provided they could get to Bury with a full battery.

I look at this in detail in Could A Class 399 Tram-Train With Batteries Go Between Manchester Victoria And Rochdale/Bury Bolton Street/Rawtenstall Stations? 

Alstom Breeze Trains

Alston Breeze trains could be a possibility, if hydrogen trains are compatible with steam trains.

The trains would also be able to work across Manchester, as the Class 769 trains will be able to.

Diesel Multiple Units

Northern have lots of better quality diesel multiple units including Class 156 and Class 170 trains. The company also has around sixty new Class 195 diesel multiple units on order.

These could obviously handle the route, but would it be better to use battery or more capable bi-mode trains on the route?

Diesel Use In Manchester

I suspect too, that train companies, their staff, passengers and all Mancunians would like to see Central Manchester’s railways become a diesel-free zone.

Train Timings

I obviously don’t have accurate figures, but I have a feeling that most of these trains could do a round trip in an hour between Manchester Victoria and Bury Bolton Street stations. The Class 230 trains would probably have time for a fast charge at each end of the route.

My Choice Of Train

It will be Class 230 or Class 769 trains.

Both trains could work the services to Bury Bolton Street station from Manchester Victoria and Rochdale stations.

The Class 769 has two advantages.

  • It is the larger train.
  • It could use its electric capability to cross Manchester.

Both trains wouldn’t look out of place running a shuttle between Bury Bolton Street and Rawtenstall stations, as they are rebuilt trains from a previous era.

Stations

A few points about the existing stations.

Bury Bolton Street Station

Bury Bolton Street station has four platforms and will be the interchange between the new services and those of the ELR.

The station has a bay platform that faces South East.

With modern signalling, I would expect that it could handle four trains per hour (tph).

Perhaps, these could be two tph from both Manchester Victoria and Rochdale stations.

Heywood Station

This Google Map shows Heywood station.

At present it has a long single curved platform.

I suspect to accommodate the new services, which could be four tph in both directions, the station would need a second platform.

Ramsbottom Station

This Google Map shows Ramsbottom station.

It is a two platform station, which appears to be close to the Town Centre and a Tesco Superstore and a Morrison’s.

Rawtenstall Station

This Google Map shows Rawtenstall station.

Note, the train in the single platform with a run round loop for a locomotive.

The article says it would be possible to create a second platform at the station.

It would appear that if Class 230 trains were to be used for the proposed.Peak Hour service to Rawtenstall station, then there would be space for installing a fast charger.

Rochdale Station

Rochdale station will be a terminus for services from Bury Bolton Street station.

This paragraph in the Wikipedia entry for Rochdale station describes the new bay platform at the station and how it is used.

In 2015, construction on a fourth railway platform began. The 135m-long bay platform was completed in 2016 and is intended to relieve congestion at Manchester Victoria, where terminating trains would occupy the through platforms; numerous services now will continue on to Rochdale as opposed to terminating at Victoria. It is located at the south end of the main island platform, with the southbound through line having been re-aligned slightly further east to accommodate the new terminating line.

This section of the Calder Valley Line appears to be very busy with a train every four minutes.

I wonder, if by diverting some services to Bury Bolton Street station, this helps ease traffic on the Calder Valley Line.

Could trains do the following triangular route?

  • Manchester Victoria
  • Heywood
  • Bury Bolton Street
  • Heywood
  • Rochdale
  • Manchester Victoria

Train timetablers with much more knowledge than myself, will have fun getting a workable timetable.

New Stations

About half-a-dozen new stations will need to be built.

Most will probably be fairly simple affairs and those North of Bury Bolton Street station could probably by just a single platform.

There is one possibly proposed station, that could be more complicated.

Buckley Wells station could be built where the Bury Line of the Manchester Metrolink and the East Lancashire Line cross by the A56.

Park-and-Ride stations are also suggested in the article at Broadfield, Ewood Bridge, Heap Bridge and Stubbins.

Freight

The article also raises the possibility of running freight trains between the Calder Valley Line and Heywood.

This is said.

,The line could incorporate a rail connection to the 200-acre Heywood Distribution Park, currently served only by road, but adjacent to the existing ELR line. An intermodal rail freight terminal could be provided in the land around the existing distribution park, with sidings at least 500 metres in length needed to accommodate modern freight trains. Conversion into a Strategic Freight Interchange would remove significant numbers of HGVs from the congested strategic road network.

Would the implementation of this plan for freight be popular with the residents of Rossendale?

Conclusion

The proposal is a comprehensive one, which could benefit several groups.

  • The residents of Rossendale.
  • Vsitors to the area
  • Commuters to Manchester
  • Travellers across the Pennines
  • Travellers to Manchester Airport
  • Freight companies.

The proposal needs further investigation to see whether there is a strong business case for implementation.

I also think, that this sort of project model, where a heritage line is integrated with the National Rail network, can be repeated elsewhere in the country.

We have some very well-managed heritage railways in the UK, some of which could be extended to the National Rail network to provide much needed passenger and freight services to new and existing developments and difficult to access towns.

The rules need to be developed, so that these projects can be developed.

January 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 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 | Transport | , , , , | Leave a 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 | Transport | , , , , | 5 Comments

A Double Crossing Of The Ordsall Chord

I caught the first morning train from Manchester Victoria station across the Ordsall Chord to Manchester Oxford station, where after buying hot chocolate, I took the same diesel multiple unit back to Hebden Bridge station.

A few points about the Ordsall Cord and its effects.

Mancunians Have Been Quick To Use The Chord To Their Advantage

It was only the second weekday of this Ordsall Chord service, but what surprised me was that quite a few of the early travellers went to the extra two added stations on the service.

This bodes well for the future in that when Piccadilly and the Airport are added, the passengers will surely travel.

Manchester Victoria Is An Inadequate Station For The Number Of Passengers

The station may have improved in recent years, since the new roof, better tram access and more retail facilities have been added, but it is still a rather poor station for passengers to walk around, compared to others with similar amounts of trains.

 

I took this picture as the train before mine unloaded passengers at Victoria station.

It is the typical scrum that you get at busy stations in the North.

The Ordsall Chord will affect Victoria in the following ways.

  • There will be more trains passing through. This will increase the number of passengers entering and leaving the station.
  • Passengers will change trains but not platforms at Victoria. This will mean that passengers will regularly wait for 15-30 minutes on the platform.
  • Ideally services like Liverpool to Leeds and Newcastle, should have same or cross platform interchange with local services using the Ordsall Chord.

So what needs to be addressed?

Platforms

The Ordsall Chord is currently served by Plstforms 5 and 6.

These platforms are totally inadequate for the extra numbers of passengers and especially the extra passengers, who will wait on the platform, whilst changing trains.

  • A coffee kiosk is needed on both Ordsall platforms.
  • The platforms are not wide enough.
  • There are not enough seats.

Both platforms are used to terminate services, which is totally against the philosophy of the Ordsall Chord. This must and hopefully will stop.

Ideally, Ordsall Chord services and important cross-Manchester services should have a platform layout, that means as many changes as possible are level.

Take the case of the elderly passenger with their presents in a bulky case going from say Liverpool to perhaps Rochdale for Christmas. They will not want to negotiate the bridge at Victoria, even by lift to change trains. And neither will staff.

But a cross or same platform interchange would be ideal for everyone.

The layout would all depend on how many services are going through the station..

Currently, the station has the following services.

  • Five tph terminating at the station going West
  • Six tph terminating at the station going East
  • Three tph cross-Manchester services stopping at the station.

If these services could be simplified by joining East and West services back-to-back, we are looking at perhaps ten tph.

As there are many stations in London that handle fourteen to sixteen tph on two platforms, the following would surely be possible.

  • Use one platform for all Westbound cross-Manchester and Ordsall Chord services.
  • Use one platform for all Eastbound cross-Manchester and Ordsall Chord services.

Platform 5 and 6 would not be ideal for this, as the services should be on either side of a wide island platform, to allow passengers to reverse direction without changing level.

Lighting

I know it was early in the morning, but the picture shows how dark and dingy the station still is. Surely, just on the grounds of Health and Safety, the lighting levels must be improved.

The Overbridge

Surely, if the rebuilt Reading and Leeds stations can have escalators for their overbridges, then the equally important. but smaller Manchester Victoria, should have some on the busy overbridge.

The Interchange Between Tram And Train At Deansgate

Did people get off the train at Deansgate station to use the Metrolink?

Changing from train to tram at Victoria, involves a fight through crowds to get up the stairs to the bridge and then another another set of stairs to get to the Metrolink.

But at Deansgate station coming from Victoria, it is just a level walk across to the major Deansgate-Castlefield Metrolink interchange.

It would appear that 2015 redevelopment of the tram stop and its link to the station were designed for the extra passengers, that the Ordsall Chord will surely bring.

Deansgate-Castlefield with its three platforms, also has a comprehensive list of services.

  • 5 trams per hour to Altrincham
  • 5 trams per hour to Ashton-under-Lyne
  • 5 trams per hour to East Didsbury
  • 5 trams per hour to Eccles via MediaCityUK
  • 5 trams per hour to Etihad Campus
  • 5 trams per hour to Manchester Airport
  • 5 trams per hour to Rochdale Town Centre
 And these are just the Off Peak, before the important Trafford Park Line opens in 2021.

Avoiding Piccadilly

Manchester Piccadilly station is one of my least favourite stations in the UK for using the trains.

  • I always travel to and from Manchester in Standard Class, to avoid the crowded walk up and down the platform at Piccadilly.
  • I know there’s a bridge at the London end of the train, but it is not directly connected to the Metrolink underneath.
  • Buying a ticket for the Metrolink is a tiresome business, when I should just be able to touch in and out with my bank card.
  • The forecourt of the station is always crowded.
  • Only the above average food offerings for a coeliac give me any cheer.

Hopefully, when the services across the Ordsall Chord are fully developed, a lot of places I want to go will be available by changing trains at Crewe or Stockport.

Manchester’s Third City Crossing

In some ways the nearest London has to the Ordsall Chord is the railway across the South Bank connecting London Bridge, Blackfriars, Waterloo East and Charing Cross stations, which carries in excess of twelve tph. It appears to me and staff I have talked to, that passengers are using this route  between Westminster and London Bridge, instead of the Jubilee Line. Especially, if they have bicycles!

Will Mancunians use the frequent service on the Ordsall Chord across the city, as a Third City Crossing?

Platforms At Salford Central Station

I hope the planned extra platforms at Salford Central station are built in the near future, as this would surely increase the use of the Ordsall Chord

Tickets To Manchester Stations

My ticket to Manchester from Euston was to Manchester Stns, which means i can get out at Deansgate, Oxford Road, Piccadilly or Victoria.

Surely, it should include Salford Central station.

Platforms At

There’s Still A Few Snags

In my trip, I went across the Orsall Chord four times.

Each time, the train waited a minute or so before proceeding over the bridge. Were there signalling issues, the trains were not quite to time or were the drivers just being cautious.

Conclusion

Now that the difficult phase is complete, it will be interesting to see how the swervices build up.

December 12, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Trains Are Timetabled Between Leeds And Manchester Oxford Road Station This Week

I have been looking at the National Rail timetables and it appears that certainly on Monday and possibly tomorrow, trains are timetabled to run between Leeds and Manchester Oxford Road stations, stopping at Manchester Victoria station.

This means that weather permitting, the Ordsall Chord is expected to be open. Weather permitting of course!

It’s now Sunday morning and according to the National Rail train departures system, the 08:57 train from Manchester Oxford Road to Leeds is ready to rumble.

The article in The Independent is entitled Six Minute Rail Link Promises To Transform North West Train Services.

It gives this precise explanation of what the Ordsall Chord is all about.

Network Rail, which has created the £85m link, says: “Congestion currently seen at Manchester Piccadilly will reduce by a quarter with some services being rerouted through Manchester Victoria.

“There will be more capacity on the railway, meaning more frequent trains to run.”

By connecting Victoria and Oxford Road stations for the first time, the Ordsall Chord will provide a link from Leeds to Manchester airport which does not require trains to reverse, and free up space by reducing the number of services terminating at Victoria.

I would assume that this short length of railway, has been built so that it can handle a high frequency of trains across the City. So if it has been traditionally signalled like the East London Line of the Overground train frequencies of upwards of twelve trains per hour (tph) will certainly be possible.

But modern signalling using ERTMS, will give this route a frequency up there with Crossrail and Thameslink of twenty-four tph.

Manchester’s Crossrail

Manchester has got its Crossrail, a year before London.

I don’t think Manchester knows what is going to hit the City!

A lot of local services at Manchester Victoria are arranged so that they run back-to-back connecting pl;aces like Blackburn, Kirkby, Southport, Stalybridge, Todmorden and Wigan.

Now services will run back-to-back through the core of Victoria, Salford Central, Deansgate, Oxford Road, Piccadilly and the Airport.

  • Manchester has gained a Third City Crossing!
  • It needs a frequency of at least twelve tph or one train every five minutes.

On the section between Deansgate and Piccadilly, there will be even more trains.

  • Piccadilly to Liverpool Lime Street and Warrington services
  • Piccadilly to Blackpool, Bolton, Preston and Southport services via Salford Central and the Windsor Link Line.

Summing this spaghetti up, you get destinations to the North of the Irwell.

  • Barrow/Lancaster/Windermere
  • Blackburn
  • Blackpool *
  • Bolton *
  • Clitheroe
  • Glasgow/Edinburgh *
  • Halifax
  • Kirkby
  • Leeds
  • Liverpool *
  • Preston *
  • Rochdale
  • Southport
  • Stalybridge *
  • Warrington

And these to the South

  • Buxton
  • Crewe *
  • Glossop/Hadfield *
  • Hazel Grove *
  • Manchester Airport *
  • Stockport *

Note.

  1. The stations marked with asterisks (*) will be fully electrified by the end of 2018.
  2. Piccadilly is not included in the list of stations South of the Irwell, as it is not a station, where trains can be reversed to go North.
  3. Oxford Road can be used to reverse trains and it is significant the the first Ordsall Chord services are between Oxford Road and Leeds.

There is a lot of scope for back-to-back services across the Irwell using the current Class 319 trains, that work Liverpool to Manchester, Preston and Wigan services.

Thinking about what Manchester has now got, it’s more like Thameslink than Crossrail, as it has a lot of branches on both sides of the Irwell.

So perhaps it should be called IrwellLink?

The Arrival Of the Class 769 Trains

Northern have another train up their sleeve! Or should I say, under construction in Loughborough?

At least eleven of the Class 769 bi-mode train are coming!

On paper these trains seem a bizarre but simple idea! You take a nearly thirty-year-old British Rail Class 319 train and fit two diesel alternator sets underneath, so that it can generate its own electric power on lines without electrification.

But in practice, it appears Northern will be getting a train that can do the following.

  • Bridge all the electrification gaps in the North-West of England.
  • Work the very stiff Manchester to Buxton route.
  • Do 100 mph under the wires and 90 mph on diesel.
  • Meet all the regulations with respect to Persons of Reduced Mobility.
  • Deputise for and augment Class 319 trains when required.
  • Give a performance improvement over Pacers and Class 150 and Class 156 trains.
  • Work into most stations, where Pacers and Class 150/156 trains currently work, without station upgrades.

All this comes in a strong Mark 3-based design, that drivers seem to like.

I think that Northern said a lot about their confidence in these trains, when they increased the order from eight to eleven, around the time serious testing started.

If more than eleven Class 769 trains are needed, there are a total of 86 Class 319 trains of which 32 are the Class 319/4 variant, which would be the preferred conversion, as they have a better interior.

Class 769 Train Routes

The Class 769 trains could work between Leeds and Oxford Road stations, as soon as they receive certification.

But surely, one of their main uses will be to link destinations on lines without electrification on either side of the electrified core lines in Manchester.

This map from Wikipedia shows the layout of the main lines and stations in Central Manchester.

Starting at the top and going anti-clockwise the stations are as follows on the lin, which is fully electrified.

  • Manchester Victoria
  • Salford Central
  • Deansgate
  • Manchester Oxford Road
  • Manchester Piccadilly

The Ordsall Chord is shown in red.

Note that most of the lines radiating from the cross-city line can be joined to the others.

This leads to services such as.

  • Buxton to Clitheroe via Piccadilly, Salford Cresent, Bolton and Blackburn
  • Crewe to Blackburn via The Styal Line, Piccadilly, Victoria, Todmorden and Burnley.
  • Southport to Manchester Airport.
  • Sheffield to Liverpool via the Hope Valley Line, Stockport, Piccadilly and Warrington.
  • Kirkby to Stalybridge

Feel free to add any route you feel convenient.

Add in a few extra platforms at perhaps the two Salford and Oxford Road stations and Manchester could have a rail network, that would be second-to-very-few.

There are also a lot of opportunities around Leeds and along the East Coast Main Line.

 

 

December 9, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 4 Comments