The Anonymous Widower

New Piazzas And Public Space Next To Historic Stephenson’s Bridge And Beneath Ordsall Chord Could Open ‘This Winter’

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in the Manchester Evening News.

This is the first paragraph.

It had been feared the space would remain closed for years – but Salford Council say they will make sure it opens as soon as they take ownership.

It is good news for those like me, who like interesting city walks.

It is also time for Network Rail and Lewisham and Southwark Councils to sort out what is to happen around London’s new rail structure; the Bermondsey Dive-Under.

This article on the Landscape Institute web site from 2017, is entitled New Railway Junction Gets Top Marks For Biodiversity., describes how the work at Bermondsey has won an award. This is said.

The project involved removal of 21,900 tonnes of contaminated material and eradicated the Japanese knotweed. To increase biodiversity, wildflower planting and green walls were installed to offset vegetation lost in the process of removing the contaminated soils. The project includes 765m2 of green walls under arches and access ramps, and the planting of wildflowers on the railway embankments to create green corridors and stepping stones to the wider area. The team also carried out extensive community engagement, including upgrading the garden in the Lewisham Community Centre.

I think there should be a public walking route through this area.

 

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

The Stunning New Public Space Under The Ordsall Chord Might Not Open To The Public For Years

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in the Manchester Evening News.

As I understand it, the new Orsall Chord in Manchester has been designed to open up a public space by the River Irwell.

The headline says it all and there appears to be no-one who knows when it will open.

For one time too, it doesn’t seem that Network Rail is the villain of the piece.

I suppose the trouble is that this development has nothing to do with football!

Come on Manchester, get your act together!

September 16, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the other direction, the service is as follows.

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

It is an ideal route for a Class 769 train.

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

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

Wigan North Western And Stalybridge

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

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

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

In the other direction, the service is as follows.

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

It is another ideal route for a Class 769 train.

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

 

 

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

The Liverpool Manchester Hydrogen Clusters Project

The project is described briefly on this page on the Cadent web site.

This is the introduction.

The use of hydrogen in place of natural gas could offer a route to widespread decarbonisation of gas distribution networks.

The Liverpool-Manchester Hydrogen Cluster project is a conceptual study to develop a practical and economic framework to introduce hydrogen into the gas network in the Liverpool-Manchester area.

It proposes converting natural gas into clean-burning hydrogen gas, using a process called steam methane reforming. The process also removes CO2 from the gas, which can then be captured using existing carbon and capture storage technology and stored in depleted offshore gas reservoirs.

The hydrogen gas would then be supplied to a core set of major industrial gas users in Liverpool-Manchester and fed into the local gas distribution network as a blend with natural gas.

Note.

  1. At Runcorn, Ineos make hydrogen and chlorine by the electrolysis of brine.
  2. When I worked in Castner-Kellner works at Runcorn, it was generally taken away be truck.
  3. The Burbo Bank wind farm in Liverpool Bay, can produce 348 MW of electricity using some of the biggest wind turbines in the World, according to this article in The Guardian.
  4. Using excess  electricity generated by win turbines at night, is used by the Germans to create hydrogen.

It doesn’t look like the project will suffer from a shortage of hydrogen.

Alsthom And Hydrogen Powered Trains

Alsthom have a site at Widnes, where they modify and paint trains. They have also indicated, that they might build new trains in the UK.

They have also developed a hydrogen-powered train called the Alsthom Coradia iLint, which starts test running with passengers in a couple of months.

This promotionalvideo shows how Alsthom’s hydrogen-powered Coradia iLint works.

The North Wales Coast Line would be an ideal test track.

  • It’s around eighty miles long.
  • It is nearly all double-track.
  • It has a 90 mph operating speed.
  • It’s probably pretty flat, as it runs along the coast.

I don’t think too many people would bother about a few extra quieter trains, just emitting steam and water vapour.

North Wales could be getting a new environmentally-friendly tourist attraction.

 

April 9, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Manchester United By Ordsall Chord

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in Rail Engineer.

These two paragraphs introduce the article.

With the timetable change on 10 December, passengers were able to travel directly between Manchester’s Victoria and Oxford Road stations over the Ordsall Chord for the first time. Although initially there are only six trains a day each way over the chord, May 2018 will bring big changes with a major timetable recast for the North Western electrification and to make best use of the Ordsall Chord.

This will increase the train services over the chord to three trains an hour each way and provide a direct link between Piccadilly and Victoria station. These trains will be a mix of TransPennine Express and Northern Rail services from Manchester Airport to Leeds and beyond. Liverpool to Scarborough trains will be routed via Victoria instead of Piccadilly.

The words show thew complexity of the project to create the Ordsall Chord.

Some facts, history and points are given in the article.

  • The chord will mean trains won’t have to reverse at Piccadilly so often.
  • Platform space will be used more efficiently at Piccadilly.
  • The frequency of trains between Deansgate and Piccadilly will be4 increased by three trains per hour.
  • Platforms 13 and 14 will be improved by platform refurbishment and better staff organisation.
  • Longer trains and digital signalling will improve capacity.

Read the article for full details.

After reading the article, I feel that by good old-fashioned operational research and squeezing improvements everywhere , that a significant increase in capacity can be created.

 

 

 

January 18, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | 2 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 | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Ordsall Chord Progress – 17th November 2017

The Ordsall Chord is now more or less complete.

I started my walk by the Museum of Science and Industry and walked in a circle finishing up in the car park of the Manchester Marriott Victoria and Albert Hotel.

Ticketing

One thing that needs to be sorted around the Ordsall Chord is the ticketing.

Suppose I arrive at Piccadilly from London and want to go to say Salford Crescent or Salford Central, which in my view are both stations in the centre of Manchester.

Will I have to buy a ticket or would a London to Manchester Stations ticket be OK?

If I was in charge of Manchester ticketing, all of the following stations would be considered Manchester stations.

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

It’s going to get more complicated.

Suppose a train operator decided to run a service from London Euston to Huddersfield via the Ordsall Chord stopping at perhaps Piccadilly, Oxford Road, Deansgate, Salford Central and Victoria. Would a London to Manchester Stations ticket be available?

Such a ticket is available to Liverpool and I regularly use my ticket from London to go down to James Street station for the Pier Head.

Incidentally, I just tried to buy a day return to Manchester and the ticketing site didn’t offer me a Mancunian equivalent of a London Zone 6 Travelcard, that is valid on trains and trams. Does such a ticket exist?

November 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 3 Comments

Progress At Pomona – 17th November 2017

Pomona tram stop will become the interchange between the Eccles Line and the new Trafford Park Line on the Manchester Metrolink.

As work has now started on the Trafford Park Line, I went to take a look.

I also walked along the canal to the entrance to the Trafford Park Estate.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  • The single bridge to the East takes the tram over the Irwell.
  • The double-bridge takes masses of traffic to and from Manchester City Centre.
  • The Trafford Park Line goes along the River Irwell.

When completed, there will be the River Irwell, the Trafford Park tram line, the Canal and the railway running through together.

The rail line is a curious one, as it has a two-hourly service between Manchester Piccadilly/Oxford Road and Liverpool Lime Street via Warrington, which stops at Trafford Park station and additionally Manchester United Football Ground station on match days only.

I’m pretty certain, that in perhaps 1966, I had my last ride on a steam-hauled British Rail service between Oxford Road and the football ground.

Surely in these days, a two-hourly service is inadequate and the frequency should be at least two trains per hour.

Karlsruhe would apply a tram-train solution and tram-trains from perhaps Warrington, would join the Trafford Park tram line to go through Manchester City Centre.

 

November 17, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Merseyrail To Skelmersdale – How To Plan A New Rail-Link

Skelmersdale is the second largest town in the North West of |England without a railway station.

But it does appear that things are progressing towards the town having what is probably a much-needed station.

This article in the Southport Visiter is entitled Funding boost for new rail link to Skelmersdale.

Reading the article, you get the impression that all the stakeholders have got together and come up with a sensible plan.

The Route

The article says this about the route.

The plan would see Merseyrail services extended on from the current terminus at Kirkby station to serve Headbolt Lane, Rainford and Skelmersdale. Skelmersdale would become the new interchange for Merseyrail, and Northern Services on to Wigan and Manchester.

This would seem to be a well-thought out plan to use Skelmersdale as an interchange.

This Google Map shows the Southern part of Skelmersdale and the railway that runs through Rainford and Upholland stations.

Note.

  1. The town centre of Skelmersdale is the Concourse, which is marked by the town’s name in the top-centre of the map.
  2. The Kirkby Branch Line runs across the map.
  3. Rainford station is in the South-West corner of the map.
  4. Upholland station is on the left-centre of the map.
  5. Kirkby station and the new Headbolt Lane station would be West of Rainford station on the existing line which is single track.
  6. The track from Rainford through Upholland and to the East is double-track.

It looks like a triangular junction would be created East of Rainford, that would allow trains from both the East (Upholland, Wigan and Manchester) and trains from the West (Kirkby and Liverpool) to turn to the North to a station in Skelmersdale.

Looking at the area in more detail from my virtual helicopter, I’m certain that  a station could be placed close to the town centre with the capability of handling four trains per hour from both Liverpool and Manchester.

The station would probably need two platforms; one for Liverpool and one for Manchester.

There would be various possibilities for the track layout between the station and the existing Kirkby Branch Line.

In the simplest form, each platform would have an independent single track, which would allow trains from both Liverpool and Manchester to arrive and depart from Skelmersdale simultaneously.

I would also arrange the two platforms as opposite faces of a shared island platform.

This would mean the following.

  • Trains from Liverpool and Manchester would arrive at the same time.
  • Trains to Liverpool and Manchester would depart a few minutes later at the same time.
  • Passengers needing to change at the station would only have to walk across the platform and wait for the other train to leave.
  • A coffee kiosk and a shop could be positioned on the shared platform.

The Northern end of the platform could be open and passengers could walk straight into the Shopping Centre or to the parking.

It would not only be passenger-friendly, but totally step-free and very affordable.

The only restriction would be that trains must be able to do the following in under fifteen minutes.

  1. Travel from the Kirkby Branch Line to Skelmersdale station.
  2. Turnback the train at Skelmersdale.
  3. Travel from Skelmersdale station to the Kirkby Branch Line.

I have said fifteen minutes, as that would be needed for four trains per hour.

This might not be possible with the current Class 508 and Class 142 trains, unless they were extremely well driven, but Merseyrail’s new Stadler trains and Northern’s 100 mph Class 319 trains, would probably be able to handle the service.

It would be a unique way to serve a town like Skelmersdale, which is a few miles from a double-track line.

The only complicated track-work needed would be where the branch joined the Kirkby Branch Line.

Electrification

Merseyrail’s network is electrified using 750 VDC third-rail, whereas if the line to Manchester were to be electrified it would probably use 25 KVAC overhead wires, as has been used all over North-West England.

Keeping the two lines independent would enable each to have its own system. This layout has been used between Dalston Junction and Highbury and Islington stations on the London Overground and it has worked successfully for over seven years.

The article in the Southport Visiter also says this.

Merseyrail’s new trains will be running on the existing network from 2020, and trials to run them beyond the existing electrified ‘third rail’ track could help inform the scope of the Skelmersdale scheme, potentially meaning that major changes to install electrified track wouldn’t be needed. Developments in Northern trains over the next few years could also remove the requirement for lineside infrastructure and power connections as part of the project.

In Battery EMUs For Merseyrail, I talked about how Stadler were going to fit batteries to two of the new Merseyyrail trains.

I’m sure that if the third-rail electrification was extended from Kirkby to Rainford, that one of the new Stadler trains will be able to reach Skelmersdale and return.

The Stadler trains might even be able to travel from the existing electrification at Kirkby to Skelmersdale and back.

Northern could run the service between Skelmersdale and Manchester, using their new Class 769 trains, which can operate on lines with or without electrification.

This could mean that the link to Skelmersdale station could be built without electrification.

Kirkby Station

Kirkby station would only need minor rebuilding as it is effectively a single long platform, where Liverpool and Manchester trains meet head-on.

The barrier in the middle of the single-track under the bridge would need removing and there would be some moving of signals, but nothing very expensive would be needed.

Headbolt Lane Station

Headbolt Lane station would be another single platform station, which would serve trains going between Liverpool and Skelmersdale.

Rainford Station

Rainford station wouldn’t need any modification, but it might be reduced to a single step-free platform.

A Co-Operative Project

The article in the Southport Visiter says this.

The Skelmersdale Project is led by Lancashire County Council, involving Merseytravel, West Lancashire Borough Council, Merseyrail, Northern Rail and Network Rail.

This must be the key to the success of the project.

The Cost Of The Project

The article in the Southport Visiter says that the current estimate of the project cost is £300 million.

These actions will need to be done.

  • Create the track to connect Skelmersdale station to the Kirkby Branch Line.
  • Build a shared double-platform station at Skelmersdale.
  • Build a single-platform station at Headbolt Lane.
  • Upgrade the signalling.
  • Deliver the new Stadler trains and ascertain their range on batteries.
  • Northern must acquire some trains for Skelmersdale to Manchester.

It looks to me, that a budget of £300 million would be adequate.

Building The Project

The major work would be creating the junction East of Rainford station and the route to Skelmerrsdale and its new station.

If it could be built without any major electrification, it shouldn’t be the most difficult of construction projects.

Headbolt Lane station could be built as a single platform alongside the existing line.

It looks to me, that this is a classic project that fits into Network Rail’s new philosophy as outlined in this article in Rail echnology Magazine, which is entitled Carne: I’m determined for private sector to directly invest in railway.

Conclusion

It is an excellent plan!

 

September 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 7 Comments

London Businesses Endorse Calls For ‘Crossrail for the North’

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

This is said.

A statement from the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) admitted that travelling in the north was a “tortuous, time-consuming experience” and that improved travel in the region needed to be seen as a top future priority by the government.

But perhaps this is this most telling statement, from the LCCI’s Policy Director.

It is interesting to note that the distance between Leeds and Liverpool is roughly the same as the whole length of London Underground’s Central Line – yet that northern journey can sometimes nearly take double the time,

The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry have a very valid point.

Some typical journeys between Liverpool and Leeds.

  • Liverpool to Newcastle train – One hour twenty-eight minutes
  • Liverpool to Scarborough train – One hour forty-six minutes

And across London from Ealing Broadway to Stratford

  • Central Line – 53 minutes – Actual
  • Crossrail – 27 minutes – Predicted

I would read the following into these figures.

  1. Why does a Scarborough service take twenty minutes longer than a Newcastle one?
  2. Creating a new route can create substantial saving of time.

This suggests to me a two phase approach to creating a better service across the North.

In the first phase new trains, track and signalling improvements and more efficient operation, are used to cut the time as much as possible.

In The Pressure For More Rail Electrification, I speculated that the following times could be possible.

  • Liverpool to Manchester Victoria – 30 minutes
  • Manchester Victoria to Huddersfield – 28 minutes
  • Huddersfield to Leeds – 22 minutes

When the following are done.

  1. Liverpool to Manchester Victoria could be speeded up by a couple of minutes, after the addition of the fourth track at Huyton.
  2. According to the time table, most dwell times are reasonable, but nine minutes is allowed at Manchester Victoria.
  3. Manchester Victoria to Stalybridge electrification is completed.
  4. All trains that can’t cruise at 100 mph are removed from the route.

One,  three and four are already underway and if the track were to be improved across Chat Moss, which currently has a 75 mph speed limit, I reckon that a reliable time of 60-70 minutes would be possible with a Class 800 train.

This would use electrification between Liverpool and Stalybridge and diesel from there to Leeds.

But even with selective electrification between Stalybridge and Leeds, the sort of times the North needs will not be attained.

Some form of new route will be needed in phase two of speeding up trains between Liverpool and Leeds.

September 17, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments