The Anonymous Widower

A Timelapse Video Of Ordsall Bridge Replacement Over Christmas 2016

I have created a post of this video, to make it easy to find.

I was pointed to the video from this page from Place North West.

January 4, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Ticketing In Liverpool And Manchester

On my trip to Wigan, I travelled around Liverpool and Manchester extensively on both days.

Whether the cities like it or not, transport-wise, the whole of Lancashire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester  is one ticketing area.

I bought a Lancashire Day Ranger at £15 on both days. But!

  • That is not expensive for me, but it probably is for others.
  • It doesn’t include Manchester’s or Blackpool’s trams.
  • It doesn’t include the Wirral Line in Liverpool.

Why can’t I just touch in with my contactless bank card, like I can in London?

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Sydney to trial contactless payments on public transport network.

Sydney will be using London’s system, so why can’t Liverpool and Manchester?

December 20, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Walking Between Manchester Piccadilly And Deansgate Stations

I took these pictures as I walked between Manchester Piccadilly and Deansgate stations.

The viaduct is certainly substantial.

I find walking difficult in Manchester, as there are virtually no maps. In London there are walking maps everywhere; on bus stops, at tube and rail stations and free standing.

One of the strange things, is that in all the pictures I took on this walk, there is no evidence of Oxford Road station, which is between Piccadilly and Deansgate. There were so signs either.

Perhaps, it’s been knocked down, since I visited a few weeks ago?

Others would say that I should use the map on my phone, but that is not easy, as my left hand is dodgy and to use a phone, I prefer to lay it flat somewhere and use it with my right hand.

I still think that the reason London is so well-mapped, is that because it is so large, the average Londoner find themselves in a strange area quite often and need immediate help. But in smaller cities, the city is small enough for all the locals to memorise the city, so they object if sums of money are spent on maps.

The only other city in the UK with good maps is Glasgow, which in terms of area is the second largest.

With this walk from Piccadilly to Deansgate, I just followed the viaduct. But it wasn’t easy at times, as there were various dead-ends, too much unnecessary traffic and parked vehicles and difficult road crossings.

Perhaps Manchester needs some combined Cycling and Walking Superhighways! And perhaps a Congestion Charge, to discourage people from bringing cars into the centre, as it did in London.

I wonder if anybody, has done an analysis of the number of visitors and tourists a city gets against the usability of its public transport and walking routes. My personal scores out of five for various UK cities would be.

  • Birmingham – 3
  • Brighton – 4
  • Bristol – 2
  • Cardiff – 4
  • Edinburgh – 3
  • Glasgow – 4
  • Leeds – 3
  • Liverpool – 4
  • Manchester – 2
  • Newcastle – 3
  • Nottingham – 4
  • Sheffield – 3

This is all very personal, as obviously I know Liverpool well. But in fairness you can give brief instructions on how to spend a day or two in Liverpool, as the centre is extensively pedestrianised and this gives the visitor a linear focus on which to explore the City.

Brighton has the seafront and once you know how to get back to the station, on foot or by bus, it has this focus on which to base your visit.

Does Manchester City Centre have a linear focus?

Manchester doesn’t draw you in with a welcoming station, as do Liverpool, Sheffield or Newcastle, and I suspect, it doesn’t make the most of casual visitors passing through.

December 16, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Northern Rail’s Ticket Machines

This picture sums up Northern Rail’s ticketing machines; lonely, unreliable and crap.

A Niortern Rail Ticket Machine At Manchester Victoria Station

A Niortern Rail Ticket Machine At Manchester Victoria Station

This machine at Manchester Victoria station did work though and after scratching around for a few coins, I was able to get to Blackburn.

A few other comments on my trip to Blackburn on Saturday.

  • On my arrival at Liverpool Lime Street station, the queue for the ticket machine was at least fifteen people. So by the time, I’d bought a ticket, my train had left.
  • At Manchester Victoria station, there were only two machines for a very busy station.
  • At Blackburn station, the machine was hidden in the subway.
  • I never saw a machine at the two small stations; Clitheroe and Whalley.
  • The last two stations have independent platforms, so if you’re travelling from one without a ticket machine, you’ll have to have a long walk first.
  • When I passed through Manchester Piccasdilly on Saturday evening, neither of the Northern Rail ticket machines were fully operational.

The company needs a lot more machines, hopefully with better functionality and reliability. They should also make sure they’re better placed.

Whilst, I’m giving Northern Rail a good kicking, here’s some more annoyances

A couple of stations I visited had a truly dreadful mobile phone signal. I think the law should be that all stations and bus stops should have a top class signal, so that those, who need to text or call their partner, friend or parents can do so.

The two-coach Class 156 train, I rode from Blackburn to Preston was the most overcrowded train I’ve ever ridden. The staff must have known it was so bad as Blackpool had just been beaten at Accrington. So why weren’t we  told by the station staff?

Probably because they were keeping well away!

At least we had a nun on board and she probably prayed for our safe deliverance to Preston.

Surely, Northern could have rustled up another or bigger train from somewhere. A four-car Pacer would have been manna from heaven!

What’s missing from this picture?

Getting My Train To Blackburn

Getting My Train To Blackburn

Although, it was the Peak, there was no prominent staff on the platform to help unload and load this four-car Pacer.

I had to look it up on the Internet, whether our train stopped at Rochdale for a fellow traveller.

Incidentally, Manchester Victoria is starting to look tired and dirty. Is it all the diesel exhaust?

Northern also seem to specialise in bad information on stations. The bus information at Blackburn was abysmal and pointed you to a non-existent bus stop to get to Ewood Park.

I do wonder that Northern are worried if they improve things, then too many passengers might want to use the service and they’d have to buy more trains.

October 16, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

A Walk Around The Ordsall Chord

I took this walk around the Ordsall Curve.

I’d taken one of Manchestewr’s free city centre buses and a walk to the Spinningfields area.

This Google Map shows the layout of lines in the area.

The Area Of The Ordsall Chord

The Area Of The Ordsall Chord

 

Walking North-East to South-West along Water Street, the bridges in order are as follows.

  • The Prince’s Bridge is a disused road bridge, noticeable because of its zig-zag construction, which will be demolished. There’s more on the bridge on this page on Manchester History.
  • Then there is the single-track line, that the Museum of Science and Industry used to run their replica locomotive.
  • The Windsor Link Railway which connect Salford Crescent and Deansgate stations, appears to share a wide bridge with the line to the museum.
  • The last bridge is the direct historic line between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly.

This Google Map shows the lines as they cross the Irwell in detail.

Across The Irwell

Across The Irwell

Note in the North-West corner of the map, the line between Salford Crescent and Manchester Victoria stations via Salford Central can be seen.

The Ordsall Chord will run in a North-South direction between this line and the line to Manchester Piccadilly.

Under Proposal in the Wikipedia entry for the chord, this is said.

The Ordsall Chord would preserve connectivity between the relocated East-West services and the city’s existing main rail interchange at Manchester Piccadilly. It would also improve rail access to Manchester Airport, which at present cannot be reached easily from Victoria. Without the chord, such operations would require for trains to be run on and then reversed back at Salford Crescent.

The would enable services such as.

  • Huddersfield, Leeds and York to Manchester Airport.
  • Leeds to Crewe without a change or a reverse in Manchester.
  • Huddersfield to London without a change.

It will also enable services on the Northern branches out of Manchester to be connected to those going South, with stops at both Victoria and Piccadilly in Manchester. This will mean that passengers needing to cross Manchester will probably be able to change trains once, rather than use the tram. it should also mean that both major Manchester stations will be able to use their capacity better, as trains will go through Manchester rather than terminate in the city.

No-one could argue that building the chord is simple, although released images show it to be dramatic.

An Artists Impression Of The Ordsall Chord

An Artists Impression Of The Ordsall Chord

Note.

  • In the image, you can see the historic Liverpool to Manchester Line behind the bridge.
  • Deansgate and Manchester Piccadilly stations are to the left with Salford Central and Manchester Victoria to the right.

After walking past the bridges, I crossed the river and followed Trinity Way virtually all the way to Salford Central station.

As I walked, I took these pictures.

The one thing that surprised me about this visit, was that propgress in the short time, they’ve had since all the legals were settled, seems to have been purposeful.

From Salford Central station, I was able to get a train to Preston, where I stayed the night.

June 20, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Why I Support Cancer Research UK

In yesterday’s post; There’s More To Liverpool Than Football And The Beatles, I talked about how researchers at Liverpool University had developed a better prostate cancer treatment. I posted this from an An article in The Guardian.

The ESPAC trials, which began publishing findings in 2004, showed that chemotherapy with gemcitabine brings five-year survival up to 15-17%, doubling the rate of survival with surgery alone. The latest research, presented at theAmerican Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago, showed the two-drug combination nearly doubles the survival rate again to 29%.

It showed, said Neoptolemos, that chemotherapy does work in pancreatic cancer, even though most attention in cancer research is now focused onimmunotherapy, and precision or targeted medicine.

But the trial would not have happened without funding from the charity CancerResearch UK (CRUK), because both drugs are old and off-patent, meaning they can be made by any generic drug manufacturer and are consequently cheap. Drug companies would not foot the bill for such a trial because the profits to be made are small.

“This is an academic-led presentation,” said Neoptolemos. “This shows the enormous value of CRUK. Without them, none of this would have happened. There is a lot of pressure [on doctors] to do drug company trials because you get £2,000 to £3,000 a patient. For something like this, you don’t get anything. It has been quite tough to do.”

That is a very strong endorsement of Cancer Research UK.

Today, there is this story on the BBC web site, which is entitled Bowel cancer: Stents ‘may prevent need for colostomy bags’. This is said.

Bowel cancer patients may avoid the need for colostomy bags if they are first treated by having an expandable tube inserted at the site of their blockage, cancer doctors have said.

The new approach, presented at the world’s biggest cancer conference, showed that the tube, or stent, cut the risk of complications from surgery.

The trial took place at Central Manchester University Hospitals! And who funded the trial? Cancer Research UK!

So I shall keep supporting the work of Cancer Research UK!

June 5, 2016 Posted by | Health | , , | 2 Comments

Will Manchester Get A Crossrail-Style Levy?

My Google Alert for Crossrail found this story in Planning Resource, which is entitled Crossrail levy model proposed for Greater Manchester mayoral CIL. This first paragraph sums it up.

A proposed city-regional mayoral Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) for Greater Manchester would operate in the same way as the existing pan-London charge to raise funds for the Crossrail project, with councils able to implement their own levies alongside the mayor’s charge, it has emerged.

Will Manchester’s council leaders and voters go for it?

From here in London, where if the Mayor wants to fund something sensible like Crossrail 2, all the Mayoral candidates and the Boroughs seem to back it, I can’t see all ten Manchester boroughs agreeing, as they seem to have a long record of doing things their own way!

April 4, 2016 Posted by | World | , , | 5 Comments

Expanding Manchester Piccadilly Station

This announcement on the Government web site is entitled Put HS3 at the heart of a High Speed North – Adonis.

This is an extract.

Recommendation six: Proposals for the redevelopment of Manchester Piccadilly station should be prepared jointly by TfN, Transport for Greater Manchester, Manchester City Council, Network Rail, DfT and HS2 Ltd.

These organisations should work to together to deliver:

a) Detailed plans for the new east-west platforms 15/16 to facilitate delivery early in Control Period 6 and unlock the development potential of the Mayfield site;

b) A masterplan for the longer-term development of Manchester Piccadilly station as a whole, incorporating capacity for HS2 services and options for the delivery and timing of platform capacity for HS3; and

c) Proposals for funding and financing the station redevelopment, including for private sector and local contributions.

I know Manchester Piccadilly station well  and it has multiple space problems. These pictures illustrate some of the problems on the North side of the station.

You have lots of short trains and long platforms, which means the following.

  • Passengers have to walk long distances.
  • There is confusion of which train to take with more than one in the platform.
  • It must be a nightmare for train operators and their staff.

Surely some reorganisation could improve this mess, that was probably designed by Topsy.

On the South side of the station, there are two of the most crowded platforms in the UK. Platforms 13/14 need a serious sorting out.

Currently, services from Platform 13 seem to go to the following.

  • Huddersfield
  • Leeds
  • Manchester Airport
  • Norwich
  • Scarborough
  • Sheffield
  • York

And from Platform 14 to the following.

  • Blackpool
  • Edinburgh
  • Liverpool
  • Southport

Most of the services seem to be provided by TransPennine Express and I think it is true to say, that when and if the Ordsall Chord is opened, there will be a sorting out of services on these two platforms.

But I do feel that the solution is Network Rail’s preferred one of adding platforms 15/16. They can’t be built soon enough, to ease the overcrowding.

This Google Map shows the layout of Manchester Piccadilly station.

Manchester Piccadilly Station

Manchester Piccadilly Station

The current Platforms 13/14 are along the bottom of the station, connected to the main station by the two small bridges. I would assume that the two new platforms will go on the south side of 13/14.

Wikipedia gives more details of developments related to the Northern Hub and HS2.

It is going to be a tight fit to get all the lines and platforms into the area.

The more I look at the station, the more I tend to think that the Picc-Vic Tunnel might have been a good solution.

It makes me wonder if it would be more efficient for HS2 and HS3 to share a route through Manchester from the Airport to Victoria and on to Huddersfield and Leeds. It would need to be mainly in tunnel and could go right under the city with underground stations. I wrote about it in Rethinking HS2 And HS3.

Surely, if two high speed lines are to go through Manchester, they should share a route?

I have also received this image from a reader; Ben.

An Alternative Cross-Manchester Tunnel

An Alternative Cross-Manchester Tunnel

Ben’s plan illustrates some advantages of a cross-city tunnel, which probably include.

  • Less demolition at stations served by HS2.
  • HS2 and HS3 could probably share platforms.
  • Release of platforms at Piccadilly.
  • A station in the centre of the city.
  • Better links to the trams and local train services
  • Ability to continue in tunnel towards Huddersfield and Leeds.

Remember that we’ve improved our tunnelling capability by a large amount in recent years.

Crossrail in London has also developed station designs and layouts, that could be used in Manchester.

  • Massive double-ended stations to effectively serve two separate locations.
  • Lines and station layouts to ease and encourage same platform interchange.
  • Moving walkways and inclined lifts, where necessary to ease passenger movement.
  • Island platforms to ease interchange between directions and branches, as at Whitechapel.

So could the most passenger friendly station, just called Manchester, be built under the city?

I don’t think that the current plans for Piccadilly, which are just so much conservative dross will be realised, as someone will come up with something much better. But then recommendation six encourages that!

 

March 15, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Driver Only Operation Of Trains

There was a wonderful demonstration of the benefit of DOO or Driver Only Operation, when I got my train at Horwich Parkway station.

The four car Class 150 train pulled in and stopped and about thirty or forty souls stood by the train doors in the rain, for perhaps two minutes, whilst the conductor, whose duty it is to release the doors, got to a point to press the appropriate button. He was probably delayed as the train was crowded.

Surely, the driver, could have pressed an appropriate button, when he had ascertained the train was safely halted.

As it was, passengers got wet before they boarded a dry train and moaned about it all.

It’s so crazy that when the Class 319 trains were cascaded from Thameslink, where they work under DOO rules, extra buttons were fitted for the conductors.

DOO operation doesn’t have to mean a crew of one, as on some of the services I rode, the conductor was also issuing tickets.

I do wonder if in some ways it’s traditional. In the 1960s in London on buses, everyone could push the button to tell the driver to stop at a particular stop. When I arrived in Liverpool, I did this on a Liverpool bus and was told off in no uncertain terms by the conductor, that it was his job.

Welcome to the weird, wonderful and wet world of Northern Rail.

If this article from Rail Technology, entitled Liverpool council joins campaign opposing driver-only operation, is anything to go by this daft method of working is going to continue.

Staff shouldn’t be on trains with little to do but on platforms and in stations helped passengers. Transport for London’s policy is laid out in Help From Staff on their web site. This is said about assistance in rail stations.

On the Tube, TfL Rail and Overground, station staff will also accompany you to the train and help you on board and, if needed, can arrange for you to be met at your destination. Anyone can use this service, but it is particularly used by blind and visually impaired passengers and people using boarding ramps onto trains.

If you would like to use this service, ask a member of staff when you arrive at the station.

It seems to work very well and should be UK law and mandated on all station operators.

March 11, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Manchester’s Nineteenth Century Ticketing

On Wednesday from my hotel by the Reebok Stadium at Horwich Parkway I had to get three tickets to get to Manchester Piccadilly station.

Three Tickets To Ride

Three Tickets To Ride

The first took me from Horwich Parkway to Farnworth with a change at Bolton.

The second then took me from Farnworth to Manchester Victoria

The third was the tram ticket across the city.

As there were not even any ticket machines at Horwich Parkway and Farnworth, I had to use the Ticket Office.

It’s all so very nineteen-century!

At Farnworth, I got talking to a couple of fellow passengers, who were local and probably over ten years older than I am.

One had just visited his granddaughter in Bromley and said he’d been impressed with using his bank card as a ticket in London.

Mancunians seem to understand London’s simple ticketing concept, so why haven’t the transport authorities embraced contactless ticketing?

It might encourage a few more visitors and commercial activity, if all the great cities of the North allowed contactless ticketing with bank cards.

It will happen, if only because American Express, AndroidPay, ApplePay, Mastercard and Visa will insist it does for their own commercial interests.

 

March 11, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 3 Comments