The Anonymous Widower

Beeching Reversal – Stockport And Ashton Line

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

I came across this railway, when I was writing Macclesfield Station And High Speed Two, as I felt the Stockport and Stalybridge Line could be a useful connection to the proposed High Speed Two terminus at Macclesfield station.

This article on the Quest Media Network is entitled Proposals For New Rail Link Between Ashton And Stockport.

This paragraph described the political backing.

The Labour politicians are backing a bid to the ‘Restoring Your Railway Fund’, which will distribute £500 million of funds to reinstate axed local services and restore stations. 

The bid was put forward by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and Stockport Council, but also has the backing of Tameside Council.

Not fans of Boris, I would presume!

These paragraphs describe the proposals

It proposes two options – a heavy rail service between Stockport and Manchester Victoria via Denton and Reddish South, and a light rail service connecting with the existing Manchester-Ashton Metrolink line at Ashton Moss in the north, and with the proposed Stockport-East Didsbury line in the south.

The proposals also open possibilities of new stations along the line at Audenshaw, Thornley Lane and Heaton Norris.

These are my thoughts.

Macclesfield As A Terminal

As I said in conjunction with High Speed Two, I believe that Macclesfield station would make a good terminal, where a Stockport-facing platform could be built, which would give step-free access to the hourly High Speed Two train to Stoke, Stafford and London.

Manchester Victoria And Stockport

This route map, which has been clipped from Wikipedia, shows the route between Manchester Victoria and Stockport stations.

Note.

  1. The connection to Manchester Victoria station joins at Denton Junction.
  2. There are possible stations at Denton, Reddish South and Heaton Norris.
  3. Trains to Macclesfield station take the West Coast Main Line from Stockport station.
  4. At Stalybridge there is a connection to the Huddersfield Line for Huddersfield and Leeds.

Realtimetrains devolves this extra information.

  • Manchester Victoria and Stockport are twelve miles apart via Denton.
  • It is a busy freight route with upwards of a couple of trains per hour (tph)
  • There used to be a station at Miles Platting.

It is a comprehensive route and deserves a lot more than a simple hourly service to Manchester Victoria station.

Battery Electric Trains

Consider.

  • Macclesfield, Manchester Victoria and Stockport stations are all fully electrified.
  • About twelve miles of track are not electrified.
  • Manchester Victoria and Macclesfield stations are twenty-four miles apart.
  • I estimate a four-car 100 mph battery electric train like a Class 350 train would do the trip in close to 25 minutes.

It looks like an ideal route for a battery electric train to me.

Two trains would be needed to run a two tph service, with no extra infrastructure.

Conclusion

Develop a service between Manchester Victoria and Macclesfield stations using battery electric trains, with at least a frequency of two tph.

 

July 15, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reinstatement Of The Bury-Heywood-Rochdale Lines

This is one of the successful bids in the First Round of the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

This article on Rochdale OnLine is entitled Successful First Step To Restore Rochdale-Heywood-Bury Railway Line.

The work can now begin to fill out what is possible, with the award of funding from the Government to go towards a full study.

The funding was welcomed by Tony Lloyd, the MP for Rochdale, who is quoted as saying this.

Metrolink services and the rail service from Rochdale to Manchester provide transport to the city centre, but it does not provide the kind of connections we need to get around the city region, in particular, from Rochdale and Heywood to Bury.

“The current public transport offering between Heywood and Manchester city centre is provided by bus services but during the busiest times of the day this journey can take more than one hour, limiting the borough’s residents’ access to the many jobs located there.

What will the new rail link look like?

In Rossendale Reopening Prospect, I gave my views, based on an article in the February 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, which had the same title.

Summarising the other article, I can say the following.

The Track

I described the track like this.

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 route is about twelve miles long.

The Services

These are given as follows.

  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.

The Stations

The following stations will be on the route.

Most will need updating, but Heywood would probably be a new station.

The Trains

The original article suggests Class230 trains, but several others are possible. The proposed battery-electric Class 331 train is surely a possibility.

Conclusion

This could be a very sensible scheme.

May 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool Lime Street And Some Other Stations Compared

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

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

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

These figures have given rise to a few thoughts.

Brighton

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

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

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

Chelmsford

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

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

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

London Fenchurch Street

London Fenchurch Street is the busiest station on my list.

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

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

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

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

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

Leeds

Leeds station has been improved over the last few years.

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

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

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

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

London Bridge

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

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

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

Reading

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

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

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

Redesigning Manchester Piccadilly

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

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

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

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

These ideas might be possible.

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

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

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

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

It would certainly give advantages if it could!

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

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

Access To Platforms 13 And 14

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

Trains Through Platforms 13 and 14

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

Improvement Along The Castlefield Corridor

Various improvements need to be done on the Castlefield Corridor.

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

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

Wide Gate Lines

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

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

The current layout can certainly be improved.

Access To Metrolink

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

Conclusion

I believe there’s a solution in there somewhere!

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

My First Ride In A Nova 3 Train

Nova 3 is the name that TransPennine Express have given to their new fleet of Mark 5A coaches hauled by Class 68 locomotives.

The first few pictures were taken, when I saw a Nova 3 at Manchester Victoria station and the ither during and after a ride between Manchester Victoria and Leeds stations.

These are a few of my thoughts.

Comfort, Noise And Vibration

It was certainly good and up there with the best.

Tables For Four

There were quite a few tables, but not everyone got one.

Ride And Performance

There was nothing wrong with the ride, but we were only doing 75 mph across the Pennines.

Next time, I’m in the North, I’ll take one of these trains up the East Coast Main Line to Scarborough or Redcar to feel them at a faster speed.

Conclusion

I wouldn’t object to having these coaches with a Class 88 electric locomotive running between London and Nowich via Ipswich.

December 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Rochdale Still Doesn’t Have A Direct Link To Manchester Airport

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Richdale Online.

I recently went to Rochdale to see Ipswich play and what surprised me about the town, was how far it was from my hotel close to Manchester Victoria station.

I went on a tram and it took over an hour and it was also very crowded.

I then walked about a mile to the football ground.  Luckily a friendly Rochdale supporter showed me the way.

But is Rochdale’s link to Manchester Airport, any worse than say Walthamstow’s link to Heathrow or Gatwick.

  • Rochdale Town Centre to Manchester Airport by train – 1:05
  • Rochdale Town Centre to Manchester Airport by tram – 2:02
  • Rochdale Station to Manchester Airport by train – 0,:55
  • Rochdale to Manchester Airport by taxi- 0:27
  • Walthamstow Central to Heathrow Airport by Underground and Heathrow Express – 1:05
  • Walthamstow Central to Heathrow Airport by Underground – 1:27
  • Walthamstow to Heathrow Airport by taxi – 1:27
  • Walthamstow Central to Gatwick Airport by train – 1:22

Note.

  1. All journeys, except the taxis, need at least one change.
  2. My lawyer son lives in Walthamstow and always flies from Heathrow.
  3. He gets there by Underground, with one cross-platform change at Finsbury Park.
  4. Crossrail won’t help the man on the Walthamstow Underground.
  5. In Manchester the taxi is quicker, but it isn’t in London.

These are my thoughts.

Mancunians Are More Impatient

Not my view, but the view of a Northern station guy, who has worked on Platforms 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly and busy stations on the London Overground.

He thought that they were sometimes in such a hurry to get on a train, that the train is delayed.

He also said, if you ask Londoners to stand behind the yellow line, they do. Mancunians don’t!

Access To Northern And TransPennine Trains Is Bad

Consider.

  • There is often a step up into the train in Manchester.
  • Manchester Metrolink is generally step-free into the tram.
  • Parts of London Underground/Overground are step-free.
  • The new TransPennine trains have pathetic and slow end-door access.

The two train companies have bought fleets of trains that are not fit for purpose.

The Manchester Airport Rail Link Is At Full Capacity

Manchester Airport station, does not have the best rail line from the City Centre.

Wikipedia says this.

Any future additional services to the Airport are in doubt without further infrastructure works; unresolved issues surround the lack of new ‘through’ platforms at Manchester Piccadilly which have been shelved by the government and the Styal Line to Manchester Airport operating at full capacity with little resilience to absorb delays.

The Rochdale Online article blames the stations in Manchester, but the Styal Line is equally to blame.

The Long Term Solution Is High Speed Two

In the 2030s, High Speed Two will solve the problem by using a tunnel between Manchester Airport and the City Centre.

It will also do the following.

  • Provide direct access between Manchester Airport and the Midlands, the South and London.
  • Provide direct access to Liverpool and Warrington in the West.
  • Provide direct access to Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds, Hull and the North East, in the East.
  • All services will probably be at least five trains per hour (tph).

But High Speed Two won’t provide a direct link to Richdale.

Passengers between Rochdale and Manchester Airport will still have to change in the City Centre.

Unless of course, some TransPennine services to Manchester Airport are discontinued, as they can be done by High Speed Two.

This would free up paths to add extra services to Manchester Airport.

An Interim Solution

Not only Rochdale, but other towns and cities across the North like Bradford moan about lack of a direct service to and from Manchester Airport.

So what would I do?

Ban Freight Trains Through The Castlefield Corridor

This may not be possible, but it should be a long term objective.

It will cost money, but it would release capacity through the Castlefield Corridor.

Ban Trains Without Level Access At Stations In The Castlefield Corridor

I know that Northern and TransPennine have just bought a load of new trains, but they make matters worse in the stations through the Castlefield Corridor.

All Trains To The Airport Must Be Eight Cars

This makes sense as it increases the capacity, but use the same number of paths.

  • Eight-car Class 379 trains – Stansted Express – 160 metres and 418 passengers
  • Five-car Class 802 trains – TransPennine Express – 130 metres and 342 passengers
  • Eight-car Class 331 trains – Northern – 190 metres and 568 passengers

It does appear that the new trains are also setting new standards for train length.

ERTMS Signalling Should Be Installed Between Manchester Victoria And Manchester Airport

ERTMS signalling would give more flexibility on the route.

Create A Manchester Airport Express

This has been suggested and would have the following characteristics.

  • Running between Manchester Airport and Manchester Victoria via Deansgate, Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly.
  • Eight cars
  • Airport-style interiors
  • Step-free access at all stations.
  • Four tph
  • Running twenty-four hours a day.
  • It would have step-free access to the Metrolink at Manchester Victoria, Deansgate and Manchester Piccadilly.

Ideally it would use dedicated platforms at Manchester Airport and Manchester Victoria. The platform at Victoria would hopefully have cross-platform interchange with services going through the station from East to West.

Reduce TransPennine Services To The Airport

TransPennine Express runs the following hourly services to the Airport

  • Cleethorpes via a reverse at Manchester Piccadilly.
  • Edinburgh or Glasgow via the Castlefield Corridor
  • Middlesborough via the Castlefield Corridor
  • Newcastle via the Castlefield Corridor

Why not cut-back either the Newcastle or Middlesborough service to Manchester Victoria and make sure it has good cross-platform access to the Manchester Airport Express?

These services are regularly cut-back anyway due to the congestion.

Demolish Manchester Oxford Road Station And Build A Station That’s Fit For Purpose

Manchester Oxford Road is one of ultimate design crimes on the UK Rail network.

  • The new or refurbished station would be step-free.
  • Platforms would be able to accept two hundred metre long trains.
  • A well-designed bay platform would be provided to turn trains from the North efficiently.
  • Up to four tph could probably be turned back.

Network Rail do station and track layout design generally very well and I’m sure that a redesigned Oxford Road station could improve capacity through the Castlefield Corridor.

Improve Deansgate And Manchester Piccadilly Stations

If longer trains are to be run through the Castlefield Corridor, then the platforms at these two stations will need lengthening and passenger access will need to be improved.

Is There A Place For Tram-Trains?

Manchester are keen on using tram-trains to improve the Metrolink network.

This map clipped from Wikipedia shows the layout of the Metrolink in the City Centre.

Note.

  1. Manchester Piccadilly, Deansgate and Manchester Victoria all have step-free connections to the trains to and from Manchester Airport.
  2. The new Trafford Line will branch off at Pomona.

I think it is likely, that any new lines run by tram-trains will pass through at least one of the connecting stations.

This will increase the list of places that will have good access with a single change to and from Manchester Airport.

Conclusion

There would appear to be a lot of scope to create a high-capacity link between Manchester and the Airport.

But it does appear that the current timetable leaves little or no room to expand the service.

That is why, I believe a simpler but higher capacity service, based on a Manchester Airport Express could be developed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Still Going For A Quart In A Pint Pot

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

The article describes the problems of running trains through the Castlefield Corridor through Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road and Deansgate stations.

It is a comprehensive article, that gets to the heart of the problem of the route.

It comes to the conclusion, that there is a need for either more infrastructure or less trains, than the current fifteen trains per hour (tph).

Under more infrastructure, the author lists these projects.

  1. Grade separated junctions at Castlefield and other junctions.
  2. A centre turnback at Manchester Oxford Road station.
  3. A West-facing bay platform at Manchester Victoria
  4. Four through platforms at Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly.
  5. Improvement at Manchester Airport station.

These points should be noted.

  • Options One and Four will be expensive and will probably cause massive disruption during construction for both rail and road traffic.
  • The author suspects Option Four would cost almost a billion pounds and would need the grade-separated junctions to get best value.

I shall deal with options Two, Three and Five later.

Trains Through The Castlefield Corridor

Current passenger trains through the Castlefield Corridor are as follows.

  • East Midlands Railway – One tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Norwich
  • Northern – One tph – Hazel Grove and Blackpool
  • Northern – One tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Crewe
  • Northern – Two tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road
  • Northern – One tph – Manchester Airport and Blackpool
  • Northern – One tph – Manchester Airport and Cumbria
  • Northern – One tph – Manchester Airport and Liverpool Lime Street
  • Northern – One tph – Wigan North Western and Alderly Edge
  • Trains for Wales – One tph – Manchester Airport and Llandudno
  • TransPennine Express – One tph – Manchester Airport and Middlesbrough
  • TransPennine Express – One tph – Manchester Airport and Newcastle
  • TransPennine Express – One tph – Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central or Edinburgh

This gives the following totals.

  • Eleven tph – Deansgate and Manchester Piccadilly
  • Two tph – Deansgate and Manchester Oxford Road

Add in a couple of freight trains and that gives 15 tph, which according to the author is the design limit.

These are frequencies from Manchester Airport.

  • There are seven tph between Manchester Airport and Oxford Road via Piccadilly.
  • There are three tph between Manchester Airport and Preston via Piccadilly and Oxford Road.
  • There are two tph between Manchester Airport and Leeds via Piccadilly, Oxford Road and Victoria.

The author of the article also points out that Bradford is pushing for a direct service to Manchester Airport.

Frequency is important, but so is train length.

  • Transpennine Express services will generally be five cars in the future.
  • East Midlands Railway, Northern and Trains for Wales services will be between two and four cars.

Nothing too taxing to handle here, although Northern might decide to double trains of eight cars at times.

Comparison Of The Castlefield Corridor And The East London Line

Consider these facts about the Castlefield Corridor

  • Four Southern routings; Crewe, Hazel Grove, Stockport and Manchester Airport.
  • Five Northern routings; Bolton, Liverpool, Manchester Victoria, Trafford Park and Wigan North Western
  • Fifteen tph of which thirteen tph are passenger trains.
  • Three stations designed by Topsy, two of which are step-free.
  • Not step-free between train and platform.
  • Three interchange stations.
  • Conventional signalling.
  • Fully electrified with 25 KVAC overhead.
  • Four train companies, with at least four types of passenger train.
  • Bad timekeeping.
  • Low customer satisfaction.

For comparison, consider these facts about the East London Line between Shoreditch High Street and Surrey Quays stations.

  • Four Southern routings; Clapham Junction, Crystal Palace, New Cross and West Croydon.
  • Two Northern routings; Dalston Junction and Highbury & Islington
  • Sixteen tph of which all are passenger trains. Soon to be raised to twenty tph.
  • Seven stations designed by various architects, two of which are step-free, with Whitechapel to soon make this three step-free.
  • Some stations are step-free between train and platform.
  • Two interchange stations.
  • More bespoke signalling.
  • Fully electrified with 750 VDC third rail.
  • One train company and one type of passenger train.
  • Good timekeeping.
  • High customer satisfaction.

The route complexity and frequencies are fairly similar, so what are the big differences?

  • Is the East London Line’s signalling better?
  • The East london Line doesn’t have freight trains.
  • Does one type of train with wide doors and walk-through interiors, work wonders?
  • Does London’s step-free between train and platform make a difference?

I think the following actions should be looked at for the Castlefield Corridor.

  • Modern digital signalling.
  • All Northern services to be run using Class 195 or Class 331 trains, which look the same to passengers, despite one being electric and the other diesel.
  • TransPennine Express will be running three different type of train all with single doors, through the Castlefield Corridor. Ways of reducing the number of types must be found.

What idiot decided to buy three incompatible fleets? Surely, an order for a larger number of Hitachi trains would have been better?

My Behaviour In Manchester

I know Manchester’s trams and trains, but I haven’t a clue about the City’s buses, which seem to be reserved for the locals.

I regularly find myself using stations in the Castlefield Corridor and I have developed certain rules.

  • Never use Oxford Road, unless you’re lost and end up there by chance. It must be the worst designed modern station in Europe.
  • Never use the route unless you’ve already bought the ticket some time before.
  • Use Deansgate if possible, as it has a good connection to Manchester Metrolink.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to catch a train from platforms 13 and 14 at Piccadilly.
  • Make sure you know what platform your train is using at Piccadilly.

I also tend to avoid catching any train from platform 13 or 14 at Piccadilly.

Passenger Problems On Platforms 13 and 14 At Manchester Piccadilly

One of the reasons, I avoid these platforms, is that they are always crowded and at weekends, there seems to be a lot of occasional travellers, often with heavy cases and babies in buggies.

I remember having a chat with a station guy there in a quiet time and it turned out that he’d also worked on platforms on the London Underground.

One point he made was that Londoners get back from the platform edge, when told, but Mancunians are slower to act.

He said trains were often delayed because of passengers struggling to get on.

Could Other Actions Be Taken To Ease The Overcrowding?

These are various ideas suggested in the article or some of my own.

Run Less Trains Through The Castlefield Corridor

This would ease the problem, but it would make it more difficult for passengers to travel where they wanted and needed.

Build A Centre Turnback At Manchester Oxford Road

Consider

  • It would mean that trains turning back at Oxford Road, wouldn’t have to cross tracks, entering or leaving the turnback.
  • It could probably turn up to four tph.
  • It might also help in service recovery.

The author obviously likes this idea and I suspect it is possible, because he mentions it more than once.

Completely Rebuild Manchester Oxford Road Station

Manchester Oxford Road is certainly not fit for purpose.

This is an extract from the Wikipedia entry.

The station, a Grade II listed structure, requires frequent maintenance. In 2004, the station roof was partially refurbished to prevent leaking. In 2011, the platform shelters, seats and toilets were refurbished at a cost of £500,000.[36] In 2013, the station received a £1.8 million renovation to improve access, including lifts and an emergency exit.

In my view, the station needs the following.

  • Step-free access.
  • Longer platforms.
  • Higher capacity platforms.
  • Much better signage and maps.
  • The turnback described earlier.

No wonder I avoid it like the plague.

A completely rebuilt station with excellent step-free access might encourage more passengers to use the station, rather than the overcrowded Piccadilly.

Improve Deansgate Station

Deansgate station is not bad, but it could be improved to encourage more passengers.

Over the next few years, as the Metroilink expands, It could become a better interchange.

Step-Free Access Between Train And Platform Must Be Achieved

This picture shows access to a new Class 195 train at Manchester Airport.

With new trains, there is no excuse for not having level access, where someone in a wheelchair can just wheel themselves across.

Level access should reduce loading delays, as it eases loading of buggies, wheelchairs and wheeled cases.

If Merseyrail, Greater Anglia and some parts of the London Overground can arrange it, then surely Manchester can?

Nova Problem

The author also talks about possible problems with TransPennine’s new Nova trains, which have single end doors, which could prove inadequate in busy times.

Build A West-Facing Bay Platform At Manchester Victoria Station

The author suggests this could be used to run a frequent shuttle service between Manchester Victoria and Manchester Airport via Deansgate, Oxford Road and Piccadilly.

It might mean that TransPennine services stopped short in Manchester and passengers would change for the Airport.

But it would solve the problems of the capacity in the Castlefield Corridor and platform availability at Manchester Airport

Could Passengers Be Nudged Towards The Metrolink?

I have watched the sheer number of passengers delay trains at Manchester Piccadilly, several times.

Would it ease delays if passengers used the Metrolink to Manchester Airport?

Perhaps, the journey by Metrolink could be made more affordable?

Conclusion

It’s a mess and as the author says in his title, quarts don’t fit into pint pots.

At least though, if High Speed Two is built to link up with Northern Powerhouse Rail and together they run London, Birmingham or Liverpool to Hull via Manchester Airport, Manchester City Centre, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds, this would solve the problem of the Castlefield Corridor by bypassing it for long-distance trains.

 

 

 

October 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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 worse 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 | , , , , , , | 6 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