The Anonymous Widower

Crossrails For The North

Regularly there are references in the media for Crossrail for the North.

This article in Rochdale Online is entitled Andy Burham calls for ‘Crossrail for North’

Note that the misspelling of Andy Burnham; the Mayor of Manchester’s name is from the web site.

Andy Burnham and many others have a point that West-East connections across the North are not good, but it is not that simple.

Hence the reason, I’ve called this post Crossrails For The North and not Crossrail For The North.

Northern And London Crossrails Compared

If you look at Greater London, the distance between Reading and Shenfield stations, which are two of the termini of London’s Crossrail, is about eighty miles and when Crossrail opens a train will take about one hour forty minutes.

By comparison, Liverpool to Leeds is just over seventy miles and the current fastest trains take ninety minutes with two stops at Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield stations.

Those that live East of Leeds, keep reading.

The differences between the two routes, when Crossrail opens will be mainly down to the number of stops, frequency and connectivity.

  • The Northern Route is shorter and hence marginally faster.
  • The London route has more stops.
  • The London route has a higher frequency.
  • The London route is electrified.
  • The London route will be served by specially-designed Class 345 trains.

But possibly most importantly, the London route connects to a large number of North-South cross-city railways.

It is sensible to think of London’s Crossrail as a loose ball of chunky knitting wool with a big fat needle stuck through it.

The ball of knitting wool is Central London with all its Underground and Overground Lines.

Crossrail is the big fat needle struck right through the middle.

You could actually argue that not just one big fat needle is through the middle, as Crossrail is paralleled by some of London’s historic Underground Lines.

Crossrail is going to be a massive playground for the duckers-and-divers, as they search for the fastest route.

How London Crossrail Will Develop

London Crossrail is not a complete system, with certain connections not of the best.

  • Eurostar from St. Psncras International
  • HighSpeed services from Stratford International
  • HS2
  • Piccadilly Line
  • Scottish and Northern services from Euston and Kings Cross
  • Victoria Line

Several of these connections can be addressed by smaller projects like the necessary rebuilding of tube stations like Bank, Charing Cross, Euston and Oxford Circus.

A lot of London politicians are pushing for Crossrail 2 , but London will be given a big increase in capacity with Crossrail and I think there is an opportunity to redefine the scope of the later project, in the light of what happens after Crossrail opens.

Consider the following, which will happen after Crossrail opens.

  • Huge pedestrianisation will happen in the City of London and the West End.
  • Hopefully, walking in large parts of Central London will improve to the standard of the bus- and car-free Central Liverpool.
  • On foot interchanges like Oxford Circus-Bond Street and Bank-Liverpool Street will be easier and quicker than now.
  • The long-neglected and ill-fated Northern City Line is getting new trains, higher frequencies and hopefully a deep-clean of the stations.
  • Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations will effectively become one station with world class connectivity.
  • The Waterloo and City Line will be improved and probably go 24/7!
  • Waterloo station will get a forty percent capacity increase this summer.
  • The Northern Line Extension to Battersea will open in 2020.
  • New trains will have been delivered for London Overground’s Liverpool Street and Gospel Oak to Barking services.

Londoners will fully exploit the network and importantly Transport for London will have detailed information from the ticketing system on the routes taken and the bottlenecks as they develop.

Access For All

Access for All is a National programme, that is making stations all over the country accessible to as many passengers as possible.

Check the list of stations being updated under Access For All

After the General Election, I would not be surprised to see funding for this programme increased all over the country, as it is both necessary and a quick way to attract more passengers to the railways.

New Stations

Since 2000, seventy-four new stations have opened or reopened.

I can rarely remember stations reopening last century, but the 4-5 new stations every year since the turn of the Millennium, seems to have continued this year with the opening of Cambridge North, Ilkeston and Low Moor

The New Franchises

Five franchises have been awarded lately.

  • Greater Anglia
  • Northern
  • ScotRail
  • South Western Trains
  • TransPennine

A feature of all these franchises is that the operators are introducing a lot of new trains and substantially refurbishing others.

Will this trend continue?

Obviously, the operators have done their sums and find that new trains attract more passengers.

There is a major problem with new trains, in that capacity to build them must be getting very short. I also don’t think that Chinese trains will be welcomed.

If I was Prime Minister, I’d make sure there was enough capacity to build and refurbish trains in the United Kingdom.

Building Crossrail 2

There is no doubt that at some time in the future, Crossrail 2 will be built.

But unlike Crossrail, which is a massive project similar in size to the Channel Tunnel,, the electrification of the Great Western Railway or HS2, it is a collection of smaller projects that can be phased over the years, with each phase giving substantial benefits to London, train companies and passengers, be they Londoners, commuters or tourists.

I would build it in the following sequence of sub-projects.

  1. Four-Tracking Of The West Anglia Main Line – Extra capacity on the West Anglia Main Line is needed for both improved London-Stansted-Cambridge services and Crossrail 2.
  2. New High-Capacity Crossrail-Compatible Trains North of London – Greater Anglia and London Overground have already ordered these trains to replace the current thirty-year-old trains.
  3. Station Improvements North of London – Improvement are much needed and are already planned and underway at Tottenham Hale and Meridian Water.
  4. Improve Connection To Sub-Surface Lines At St. Pancras Station – The current connectivity is terrible between these lines and Thameslink and the HighSpeed lines to Kent.
  5. Connect Euston Square Tube Station To Euston Station To Give Extra Capacity During Euston Rebuilding For HS2
  6. Introduction Of A New Stratford-Tottenham Hale-Angel Road Service – The delivery date for STAR is 2019.
  7. Introduction Of Chingford-Walthamstow-Stratford Services – This would improve access to Crossrail and take pressure from the Victoria Line.
  8. New Stansted And Cambridge Services From Stratford – Greater Anglia have suggested this and there’s even an unused loop at Stratford, that could be used to turn trains and allow them to call at Stratford International for Eurostar to the Continent and HighSpeed services to Kent.
  9. More Terminal Capacity for Trains From North of London – The Stratford loop would increase the terminal capacity for Greater Anglia and also give access to the Jubilee Line for London Bridge, Waterloo and Westminster.
  10. Use Improved Capacity At Waterloo To Increase Services On Proposed Crossrail 2 Southern Branches – The extra capacity should help.
  11. New High-Capacity Crossrail-Compatible Trains South of London – South Western Trains have indicated this will happen.
  12. Station Improvements South of London – Improvement are much needed.
  13. Rebuild Euston Tube Station In Cnjunction With HS2

Only when these phases are completed, would the central tunnel  be bored.

This step-by-step approach has several advantages.

  • The pace of the project can be geared to the finance and resources available.
  • Some developments can have a significant local design and scope input.
  • Much needed stations can be built early to generate passengers and cash flow.
  • Trains can be follow-on orders to Crossrail.
  • The suburban sections of the route will always be available for passenger traffic.

When Crossrail 2 is complete, the second big fat knitting needle has been stuck in the ball of wool.

What Can The North Learn From London?

I would argue that one of the keys to London’s success over the years has been its comprehensive multi-layered public transport system.

  • Crossrail, Crossrail 2, Thameslink and the Overground could be considered the top layer.
  • The Underground, the Docklands Light Railway and the suburban electric trains are the middle layer.
  • Buses form the local and bottom layer.

Underneath a walking and cycling layer is emerging.

The North of England can be considered a series of local transport networks, which are connected by a series of major lines, which are equivalent to London’s Crossrail, Crossrail 2 etc.

Northern Connect

I find it interesting that Northern are introducing a Northern Connect service, which Wikipedia describes as follows.

From December 2019, Northern will operate a network of twelve Northern Connect interurban express services. Eleven of these will be operated by brand-new Class 195 diesel multiple units and Class 331 electric multiple units, whilst the Middlesbrough to Carlisle via Newcastle route will be operated by refurbished Class 158 units.

Places that will be served by Northern Connect routes include Bradford, Chester, Halifax, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Nottingham, Newcastle, Preston, Sheffield, Barnsley, Lincoln, Wakefield and York.

Local Networks In The North

Some of the local Northern networks in places like Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield are certainly better than others.

It could also be argued that the six cities I named, are among the most successful and vibrant cities of the North.

I feel that for the railways to be successful in the North and for some cities to have a major improvement in prosperity, that some of the local networks need substantial improvement.

TransPennine And Feeder Routes

The starting point is to detail the Northern Connect and TransPennine Express services in the North.

The Northern Connect services given in the January 2016 Edition of Modern Railways are as follows.

  • Middlesbrough to Newcastle
  • Newcastle to Carlisle
  • Hull to Sheffield
  • Nottingham to Bradford via Leeds
  • Lincoln to Leeds via Sheffield and Barnsley
  • Liverpool to Manchester Airport via Warrington
  • Chester to Leeds via Warrington, Manchester Victoria and the Calder Valley
  • Blackpool North to York via Preston and Leeds
  • Barrow to Manchester Airport
  • Bradford to Manchester Airport via the Calder Valley.
  • Blackpool to Manchester Airport
  • Windermere to Manchester Airport

I suspect plans have changed since January 2016, but the possible routes are a good start.

According to Wikipedia, TransPennine routes are as follows.

  • Liverpool Lime Street to Newcastle via Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds and York
  • Manchester Airport to Middlesbrough via Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Leeds and York
  • Manchester Airport to York via Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield and Leeds
  • Liverpool Lime Street to Scarborough via Manchester Piccadilly, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds and York
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Hull via Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds and Selby
  • Manchester Airport to Cleethorpes via Manchester Piccadilly, Stockport, Sheffield, Meadowhall and Doncaster
  • Manchester Airport to Edinburgh Waverley/Glasgow Central via Manchester Piccadilly

These routes will change in the next year, when the Ordsall Chord opens.

The opening of the chord, may mean that certain services to Manchester Airport, will not need to reverse at Manchester Piccadilly.

Summarising the East-West routes across the Pennines gives.

  • Newcastle to Carlisle
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Huddersfield
  • Blackpool North to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Doncaster via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield

None of these lines are fully electrified.

They are also connected to their ultimate destinations by feeder lines.

  • Liverpool to Manchester Airport via Warrington
  • Chester to Manchester Victoria via Warrington
  • Liverpool to Manchester Victoria
  • Leeds to Newcastle via York
  • York to Middlesbrough
  • York to Scarborough
  • Leeds to Hull

Only the following lines will be fully electrified by December 2017.

  • Liverpool to Manchester Victoria
  • The West Coast Main Line
  • The East Coast Main Line
  • Some Suburban Routes in Blackpool, Liverpool, Manchester and Preston
  • Some Suburban Routes in Bradford and Leeds

Most of the routes will have to be run by diesel or bi-mode trains.

The Crossrails For The North

There are five East-West routes across the Pennines used by Northern Connect and TransPennine Express.

  • Newcastle to Carlisle
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Huddersfield
  • Blackpool North to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Doncaster via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield

To these I would add two extra lines.

  • Leeds to Carlisle via Settle
  • Preston to Leeds via Burnley, Colne and Skipton.

Note

  1. I have added the Settle-Carlisle Line, as it is world-renowned, is in excellent condition and if provided with a decent train service, could be a major attraction, that would bring tourists to the area.
  2. The Skipton to Colne Line should be reinstated, to create a direct connection between the electrified local networks servingLeeds/Bradford and Liverpool/Manchester/Preston.

But there would be seven magnificent routes across the Pennines, which could be updated to the following objectives.

  • Frequent trains on all lines with at least two trains per hour (tph)
  • 100 mph running where possible.
  • As high a frequency as possible on the core section between Manchester Victoria and Leeds. Plans exist for six tph, which is a good start.
  • In the East trains would fan out to Cleethorpes, Grimsby, Hull, Newcastle and Scarborough, as they do now.
  • In the West trains would fan out to Blackpool, Chester, Crewe and Liverpool.
  • Lots of cross-platform connections at stations like Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester Victoria, Newcastle, Preston and York with long distance North-South services to London and the South and Scotland.
  • All stations would be step-free with lifts or ramps.

In addition provision should be made early to make sure that there are good connections to HS2.

Electrification

Obviously, electrification would be an ultimate goal on all these East-West routes.

But there are various problems with the electrification of the Peenine sections of the routes.

  • These lines have large numbers of low bridges and high viaducts.
  • Electrification would need to be robust because of the weather.
  • Electrification gantries might not fit well in the scenery.
  • Installation and servicing of overhead electrification may not be an easy process.

On the other hand, the noise of diesel trains might not be welcomed.

However, I believe that in the next ten years much quieter self-powered trains will be commonplace.

At the present time, if diesel or bi-mode trains are acceptable, then they should be used to provide a service.

Looking at the various feeder routes to the East and West of the Pennine sections, it is a different matter.

  • Routes are less challenging.
  • There are fewer bridges and viaducts.
  • Installation and servicing of overhead electrification would be easier.

There is already a lot of electrification at the East and West, which could be extended to places like Chester, Hull and Middlesbrough.

A Pennine core without difficult electrification, between electrified feeder routes may be the most efficient way to run the routes using bi-mode trains.

It might be sensible to use Class 88 bi-mode locomotives instead of the currently proposed Class 68 locomotives with rakes of coaches, as is planned by TransPennine Express.

A Hull to Liverpool service would run under the following power.

  • Hull to Bradford via Leeds – Electricity
  • Bradford to Stalybridge- Diesel
  • Stalybridge to Liverpool via Manchester Victoria – Electricity.

Around thirty miles would be on diesel and the difficult electrification in the Pennines would be avoided.

Infrastructure

This table is a brief summary of the routes.

  • Newcastle to Carlisle – Double track, 18 stations
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via the Calder Valley Line – Double track – 17 stations
  • Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Huddersfield – Double track – 14 stations
  • Blackpool North to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line – Double track – 14 stations
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Doncaster via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield – Double track – 18 stations
  • Leeds to Carlisle via Settle – Double track – 10 stations
  • Preston to Leeds via Burnley, Colne and Skipton – Part Single track

Note.

  1. Most routes are double track, which aids train scheduling.
  2. All except Skipton to Colne seems in good condition.
  3. I can’t find much information about speed limits.

I think it is true to say, that none of the routes could be a high speed line, although a large proportion could have substantial speed increases.

From what I have seen in East Anglia, I suspect most routes could be upgraded to 100 mph, which with the train frequencies of say four tph could give a substantial increase in speed.

Stations

Many of the secondary stations on these routes are not blessed with facilities like ticket machines, lifts and step-free access.

If I compare, what I see on the web, with what I have experienced in East Anglia, the quality of the smaller stations is not good.

Services

The services along the lines are not of a high frequency or of a high speed, but Northern and TransPennine Express intend to increase frequencies and speed.

The new trains with their faster stops will help.

This is said about the Future Services of TransPennine Express on Wikipedia.

A twice-hourly service between Manchester and Newcastle will be phased in between December 2016 and December 2017, made up of the existing service from Liverpool and a reinstated service from Manchester Airport. Trains between Liverpool and Newcastle will be extended to Edinburgh via the East Coast Main Line, giving a twice-hourly service between Leeds and Edinburgh together with an hourly CrossCountry service. Trains between Liverpool and Scarborough will be rerouted via Manchester Victoria and Newton-le-Willows to provide a half-hourly fast service between Liverpool and Manchester. It is also planned to operate a six train per hour frequency between Manchester and Leeds, up from five today.

I can’t find anything about timings.

A High Speed Line

Building a new high speed line will be difficult, expensive and may take years, as there will probably be a need for a costly tunnel through solid rock between Manchester and Leeds.

So a prudent Project Management strategy could be phased in the same way I proposed for London’s Crossrail 2.

  • Increase Line Speed – This would probably give the largest benefit, as it would enable more and faster trains.
  • Electrify From Leeds To York  This would enable TransPennine’s Class 802 trains between Liverpool/Manchester Airport and Newcastle/Edinburgh to run more efficiently.
  • Electrify From Liverpool To Manchester Airport Via Warrington – This would tidy up electrification between Liverpool and Manchester.
  • Electrify To Chester From Crewe and Warrington – This would link North Wales to the TransPennine routes.
  • Electrify From Leeds To Hull – This would be a comparatively easy electrification.
  • Create The Skipton To Colne Link – This would link the two Norhern suburban electric networks and become a valuable transport asset for both local residents and visitors.
  • Improve Stations – Better facilities and atep-free access is desperately needed. Especially at secondary stations.
  • Improve Local Networks In Selected Cities – Some are much better than others.
  • Increase Train Frequencies – Run at least two tph on all routes.

Hopefully, a decent service can be provided, until a new high speed route can be built.

One great advantage that this project has compared say to the electrification of the Great Western Railway, is that because there are several current routes, if one needs to be closed for a short time, there is a suitable alternative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 21, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is The Pollution Solution A Part-Solution To Terrorism?

Hong Kongers nickname their tramway the Pollution Solution. ut to be fair to one of my favourite cities, the city also has an extensive public transport network of metro lines and buses. Although, I’ve ever used any of the latter.

London and other cities in the UK have a serous air pollution problem and we should solve it for the health of us all, as pollution probably causes more premature deaths than terrorism. Or for that matter street crime like muggings and robberies!

Suppose in London we did the following to cut pollution.

  • Ban polluting vehicles from a wide area of the centre.
  • Impose a high Congestion Charge over a wide area.
  • All shop deliveries must be at night!
  • Cut the number of private hire vehicles.
  • All buses, including tourist buses and coaches, private hire vehicles and black cabs must be electric.
  • Rigorously impose a twenty mile per hour city-wide speed limit.
  • When Crossrail is finished, build the Bakerloo Line Extension and Crossrail 2.
  • Pedestrianise large parts of the City Centre.
  • Improve the cycle network and make sure cyclists use it and not the pavement.

Other cities could also do similar things to suit their circumstances.

A few of our cities like Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow and Liverpool have pedestrianised substantial parts of their city centres. They haven’t done enough, but it’s a start.

I don’t think trams will be a pollution solution in Central London except perhaps on a specific route to overcome congestion on the Underground.

We are going to have to act very strongly to deal with pollution, but will it have collateral effects?

Some years ago, I did some work with the Police on analysing crime and I remember an analyst, who was also a Police Officer, explaining how he saw links between traffic and crime.

I remember him saying that no self-respecting criminal would go burgling on a bus.

One thing that came out of this work, was that if Police checked a car and found that one of car tax, insurance or MOT was not in order, there was a high chance of a non-motoring offence being committed. As he said, if a criminal is dealing in thousands of pounds-worth of drugs, will he bother to renew his tax and insurance?

I’ve wondered for some time, if this car checking  in Central London, which must be done by the Congestion Charge cameras  has led to the increase in crime in London committed by criminals on motor-bikes, scooters and bikes. London’s congestion could also drive crime this way.

So if we solved the pollution, would this cut the congestion? And how would this effect crime?

I don’t know, but I suspect, we’ll find out in a few years, as the draconian measures we will introduce to cut pollution, will have fundamental effects on the way we live in London.

In the next two or three years, some cross-city and city centre rail lines will will improve drammatically.

However, some cities with bad pollution problems will not being seeing any public transport improvements.

It will be interesting to see the effects on pollution, congestion and crime. And terrorism!

 

 

 

 

March 23, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Should Greater Manchester Have More Control Of Its Stations?

I ask this question because of this article in Global Rail News, which is entutled Manchester Seeks Station Devolution.

I don’t think there is a simple answer to this question.

As an example take the case of Haggerston station, near to me in London.

The station is owned by Transport for London and managed by London Overground, who also put their names on the trains.

But the actual operator is Arriva Rail London, who are paid a fee to run everything by London Overground.

It sounds complicated, but if Transport for London want to add a station, which they haven’t yet, they would decide this with the various London politicians.

Transport for London may not have added a station, but they have promoted the extension of the Northern Line to Battersea Power Station and they are putting the funding together to extend the Bakerloo Line to Lewisham.

Merseyrail works under a similar model and they’ve just announced the construction of Maghull North station and the purchase of a fleet of new Stadler trains.

So why shouldn’t Manchester and a few other cities have control of their stations?

This is a quote in the article from Jon Lamonte, TfGM’s chief executive.

The recent redevelopment of Irlam rail station has already showcased how our vision can become a reality, demonstrating just what can be achieved when local stations realise their full social and economic potential.

In some ways the local knowledge and control is what is important. If everything is under an elected figurehead like a Mayor or Transport Commissioner, then if it all goes wrong, they will feel the wrath of the electorate.

The problem with ,local control comes, when a decision involves other Local Authorities of perhaps a different political hue.

Suppose in Manchester that for their own perfectly valid reasons, Manchester wanted to move some Liverpool services between Manchester Victoria and Manchester Piccadilly stations.

Liverpool might not like this and the problem could rumble on and on.

So who has control of the regional stations has to be chosen with care.

In some ways, it would be a great advantage to both Liverpool and Manchester, if they both ran their stations using the Merseyrail model.

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

From Salford Central To Deansgate

I took these pictures as I walked from Salford Central station to the Deansgate-Castlefield tram-stop.

Despite the fact, that it was not raining and is very sunny, it is Manchester! Although probably, some parts are Salford!

It is certainly, an impressive bridge over the Irwell and a reconstructed viaduct to Deansgate.

March 9, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

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