The Anonymous Widower

Boost for Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle Area As A Further £1.5m Invested By Combined Authority In New Railway Station Scheme

The title of this post, is the same as that of this story on the Liverpool City Region web site.

These three opening paragraphs give most of the details of the story.

Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle area has been given a big boost as plans to build a new station have moved to the next stage thanks to a £1.5m investment by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has pledged to build a new station on the site of the former St James station, which closed in 1917, which would be located in one of the fastest growing areas of the city, near to the former Cains Brewery.

Those proposals for the station on the Merseyrail network are a step closer thanks to two new developments – an agreement with Network Rail, worth £1.2m, to start the next stage of the design process, and the purchase of a plot of land adjacent to the railway cutting off Stanhope Street for £300k, protecting a potential future site for the new station ticket office building.

As Liverpool St. James station, closed over a hundred years ago, this must be one of the longest times to reopen a station, anywhere in the world.

This Google Map shows the location of the proposed station.

Note.

  1. The deep dark cutting going under the major road junction, where Upper Parliament Street and the A571 cross.
  2. The square of roads formed mainly by Ashwell Street, with Stanhope Street in the South, above the cutting.
  3. Contained in the cutting is Merseyrail’s Northern Line on which the station will be built.
  4. I also suspect, that the triangular plot of land on the East side of the tracks, is the one mentioned in the extract. It could easily be the place for a ticket office with lifts to the platforms.

Only Liverpudlians would choose to build a station at the bottom of a deep hole.

But then they don’t think like others!

I have a few thoughts and questions.

Will It Be Dark On The Platforms?

This was one of my first thoughts, as there’s nothing worse than a dark station. I also wonder, if one of the reasons the station closed was lack of passengers caused by the darkness.

This picture taken from the story, shows the cutting from the bottom.

Note.

  • Aligning this picture with the map, Liverpool Central is behind us and Hunts Cross is through the tunnel.
  • Perhaps on a good day more light gets into the cutting.

I suspect that modern lighting on the platforms could solve the problem.

It appears that the station opened in 1874 and closed in 1917, but the lines through the station were not electrified until 1983.

So as the station must have been served by steam-hauled trains, during its brief opening at the turn of the Nineteenth Century, it must have had a terrible atmosphere on the platforms.

Hopefully, the only smell, that will emanate from the new Class 777 trains, will be one of newness.

What Is On The Triangular Plot?

This Google Map shows the triangular plot of land, that could be used for the ticket office.

Note.

  1. It looks very much to be a builder’s yard or a store for building materials, as I can definitely make out packs of bricks and bags of aggregate.
  2. As there appears to be a steel staircase down to the tracks at the top of the image, it might even be something to do with Network Rail.
  3. The steel staircase is visible in the picture of the tracks.
  4. The plot certainly doesn’t contain any buildings of architectural merit.
  5. I also can’t see a pond, which might contain newts or other protected wildlife.

It would appear to be an ideal site for a station building, with all the necessary facilities.

More Information And Pictures Of The Former Station

This page on the Disused Stations web site, gives extra information to Wikipedia about the station and has some interesting pictures.

How Will The Platforms Be Accessed?

It is a long way for steps, as especially as new stations are generally built step-free.

Merseyrail already have a pair of almost identical stations; Kirkdale and Wavertree Technology Park, which both opened in 2000.

These pictures show Kirkdale station.

I suspect, platform access at Liverpool St. James station of a similar design could be devised.

  • The simplest design would surely be to put a bridge across the tracks from the ticket office, which had a large lift on both sides of the tracks direct to the platforms.
  • Stairs from such a bridge could probably be added, but they would be long and complicated.
  • It might need a two-stage process with lifts taking passengers down to a bridge over the trains and then stairs and more lifts or ramps to the platforms.

At least, as the line is electrified for third-rail, I doubt clearance will be needed for overhead wires.

Could The Station Have An Island Platform?

One of the comments suggested this. In addition, one picture on the Disused Stations web site appears to show three tracks through the station site.

So this could be an interesting possibility.

Conclusion

I think that we might see a very innovative design here, given Merseyrail’s past record.

November 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 7 Comments

New MerseyRail ‘Connected’ Trains

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

It is an article that should be read, by anybody with an interest in either Merseyrail’s trains or modern urban rail networks in general. As Stadler, will be providing a fleet of trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro, I suspect a lot of the points made in the article can be expected to have parallels on that network as well.

What About The Signalling?

The article talks about the management of the signalling, but it says little about signalling in the future, although it does say that Merseyrail will be covered by a very high capacity digital network.

London’s Digital Signalling Revolution

In London, there are four tunnelled routes, that in a few years time will be running under full digital signalling.

  • Crossrail
  • East London Line
  • Northern and City Line
  • Thameslink

Note.

  1. Thameslink is already running upwards of twenty trains per hour (tph) using digital ERTMS signalling.
  2. Crossrail will be running 24 tph using digital ERTMS signalling.
  3. The East London Line currently handles 16 tph and will soon be handling 20 tph.
  4. The Northern and City Line will be going to digital ERTMS signalling, when it is applied to the Southern end of the East Coast Main Line.
  5. , In addition to the Circle, District, Jubilee, Metropolitan, Northern and Victoria Lines of the London Underground have digital signalling.
  6. Dear old Vicky is actually running 36 tph between two-platform stations at Brixton and Walthamstow Central.
  7. I wouldn’t bet against Vicky running the magic 40 tph, to become the most frequency line in the world.

All of these London systems, have one great advantage. In the tunnelled sections of the routes, there is generally only one class of fully digitally-equipped train, which must make system design and implementation easier.

Liverpool’s Digital Signalling Revolution

Consider.

  • As the article says, Merseyrail now has a world-class high-capacity digital network, that is accessible by all of its trains.
  • It has ordered 52 new Class 777 trains and has options for another sixty.
  • There are proposals to extend the Merseyrail network to Manchester, Preston, Skelmersdale, Warrington, Wigan and Wrexham.
  • The Northern Line runs at a frequency of 12 tph.
  • The Wirral Line runs at a frequency of 14 tph.
  • The loop Line has recently been relaid, so is probably high-quality track.

Compared to London’s tunnelled routes, the Northern and Wirral Lines are not handling a large number of trains.

But Liverpool now has a digital network to support the signalling and trains that could be upgraded to use it are arriving.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the maximum train frequency on Merseyrail is at least twenty tph or one train every three minutes.

What Would Twenty tph Do For The Wirral Line?

Currently, the following destinations are served by the Wirral Line and the services use the Loop under Liverpool City Centre.

Note.

  1. The current frequency around the Loop is 14 tph.
  2. Merseyrail is proposing to extend the Ellesmere Port service to Helsby, using battery-equipped Class 777 trains
  3. There is also an hourly service from Bidston to Wrexham Central in the Borderlands Line.
  4. I can see no technical reason why, the Bidston and Wrexham service could not be run using battery-equipped Class 777 trains and terminating in the Loop.

Surely, the ultimate twenty tph service on the Wirral Line would be as follows.

  • Chester – Four tph
  • Helsby via Ellesmere Port – Four tph
  • New Brighton – Four tph
  • West Kirby – Four tph
  • Wrexham Central – Four tph

All twenty tph would terminate in the Loop under Liverpool City Centre.

What Would Twenty tph Do For The Northern Line?

Currently, the following Northern destinations are served by the Northern Line.

And these Southern destinations are served.

Note.

  1. The current frequency, through the central section is 12 tph.
  2. There is a proposal, that I wrote about in Liverpool’s Forgotten Tunnel for the trains terminating at Liverpool Central station to use the Wapping Tunnel to connect to the City Line.
  3. There is a proposal to extend the Ormskirk service to Preston, using battery-equipped Class 777 trains.
  4. There is a proposal to extend the Kirkby service to Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale, using battery-equipped Class 777 trains.
  5. There must also be a possibility of a service that extends the Kirkby service to Wigan Wallgate, using battery-equipped Class 777 trains.

The service des appear to be biased towards the Northern end, with more possibilities there for extra trains than in the South.

This is why the plan to expand to the East through the Wapping Tunnel has evolved, as it gives the following possible destinations.

  • Manchester Oxford Road
  • Warrington Bank Quay
  • Warrington Central
  • Wigan North Western

Note.

  1. All destinations are currently served from Liverpool Lime Street by Northern.
  2. There must also be the possibility of a direct service to Liverpool Airport.
  3. There must also be the possibility of a service on the Canada Dock Branch to Bootle.

I can envisage between 12 and 16 tph through the Wapping Tunnel, which with the four tph to Hunts Cross could mean 16 to 20 tph on the Northern Line.

Conclusion

It would appear that a very frequent system can be developed on Merseyside, if frequencies common in London can be achieved.

 

August 23, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Railway Station At Liverpool University

In Liverpool’s Forgotten Tunnel, I showed this map, which shows a proposed reopening of the Wapping Tunnel as a passenger route between Liverpool Central and Edge Hill stations.

Note.

  1. The map shows a station at University
  2. The Wapping Tunnel is shown as a dotted blue line.
  3. Between four and eight trains per hour (tph) would be running through University station.

This Google Map shows the line of the tunnel.

Note.

  1. Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral is in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. Much of area of the map is taken up by buildings of Liverpool University.
  3. Crown Street Park is in the South-East corner of the map and contains one of the ventilating shafts for the tunnel.
  4. Blackburne Place in the South-West corner of the map contains another ventilating shaft.

The location of the shafts, probably means that the tunnel runs vaguely along Myrtle Street.

Not knowing that area of the campus well, it could be where Grove and Myrtle Streets intersect.

This Google Map shows the area.

It should be noted that this area of Liverpool is built on sandstone and tunnelling isn’t the most challenging operation, so it might be possible to create a very passenger-friendly station.

Passenger Services Through The Station

I think that my best estimate of passenger service through the station would be as follows.

Frequency

The frequency would be between four and eight tph. These are quite low frequencies for a modern railway and Merseyrail exceeds this frequency in several places.

Westbound

Currently, trains on the Northern Line branches to Ormskirk and Kirkby appear to turnback at Liverpool Central station. So it would appear, that it would be more likely, that Westbound services at Liverpool University station would terminate at Kirkby or Ormskirk.

Passengers wanting to travel to and from stations on the Wirral Line, would need to change at Liverpool Central station.

Eastbound

Currently, local services out of Liverpool Lime Street, that are run by Northern, are as follows.

  • Half hourly service to Manchester Oxford Road (via Warrington Central, most local stations)
  • Hourly service to Manchester Airport (via Warrington Central and Manchester Piccadilly, limited stop)
  • Hourly service to Blackpool North (limited stop)
  • Half hourly service to Wigan North Western (via St Helens Central, all stations)
  • Hourly service to Crewe (via Newton-le-Willows, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport, all stations)
  • Hourly service to Warrington Bank Quay (via Earlestown, all stations)

Note.

  1. The services actually add up to eight tph.
  2. As Merseyrail’s new Class 777 trains will have a pantograph for 25 KVAC overhead electrification and a battery capability, they could be used on all routes.
  3. But I do think that the trains may not be suitable for all routes because of their 75 mph operating speed.
  4. It might be better to serve Blackpool North station by extending an hourly Ormskirk service to Preston and Blackpool North, with stops at all stations.

So could the services Eastbound from Liverpool University station be as follows.

  • Half hourly service to Manchester Oxford Road (via Warrington Central, most local stations)
  • Half hourly service to Wigan North Western (via St Helens Central, all stations)
  • Hourly service to Warrington Bank Quay (via Earlestown, all stations)

The services add up to five tph and I would expect selective increases would balance the services, so that eight tph ran through Liverpool University and Edge Hill stations.

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

Possibly One Of The Best Underground Railways In A Smaller City In The World!

I took these pictures, as I took the Wirral Line between James Street and Lime Street stations.

I do compare them with the dingy inside of Essex Road station, which was refurbished by British Rail about the same time.

Merseyrail’s stations and trains are generally immaculate and that can’t be said for the dirty and tired infrastructure on the Northern City Line. As I indicated in the title of this post, t is one of the best underground railways under the centre of a smaller city. Liverpool would probably be regarded as a second size of city as it lacks the several millions of London, Paris or Berlin.

The tunnels of Merseyrail’s Northern and Wirral Lines, would have been probably been used as a model for British Rail’s proposed Picc-Vic Tunnel, that sadly never got to be built!

Manchester would be very different today, if it had an underground railway across the City to the standard of that in Liverpool or Newcastle.

This map clipped from Wikipedia show the proposed route of the Picc-Vic Tunnel.

Some of the other proposals included.

  • The tunnel would be twin bores and jus under three miles long.
  • The tunnel would be electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • The rolling stock would have been Class 316 trains, which would have been similar to those on Merseyrail.
  • Train frequency could have been forty trains per hour (tph)

In some ways the specification was more ambitious than Crossrail, which might be able to handle 30 tph, at some time in the future. But Dear Old Vicky, which was designed at the same time, is now handling forty tph.

Wikipedia says the following routes could have run through the tunnel.

Note.

  1. The Styal Line now provides the link to Manchester Airport.
  2. The route map on the Wikipedia entry, shows only Bury and Bolton as Northern destinations. But surely fanning out the trains could have run to Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Blackpool, Burnley, Clitheroe, Colne, Hebden Bridge, Kirkby, Preston, Rawtenstall, Tochdale, Southport, Stalybridge, Todmorden, Wigan and Windermere

The only problem, I could see would be that there would need to be a lot of electrification North of Manchester, some of which has now been done.

There have also been developments in recent years that would fit nicely with a system of lines running through the Picc-Vic Tunnel.

More Services In Manchester Piccadilly And Manchester Victoria Stations

If you look at Liverpool Lime Street station after the remodelling of the last few years, the station is now ready for High Speed Two.

You could argue, that it would be more ready, if the Wapping Tunnel connected services to and from the East to the Northern Line, as I wrote about in Liverpool’s Forgotten Tunnel, as this would remove a lot of local trains from the station.

The Picc-Vic Tunnel would have done the same thing for Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria stations and removed the local services.

This would have left more space for High Speed Two and other long distance services.

Northern Powerhouse Rail

The original plan also envisaged an East-West Tunnel at a later date. – Northern Powerhouse Rail?

But the creation of capacity by the diversion of local services from Manchester Victoria into the Picc-Vic Tunnel, would surely have enabled the station to be developed thirty years ago as a station on an improved TransPennine route.

Tram-Trains

The system would have accepted tram-trains, which hadn’t been invented in the 1970s.

Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport had only one runway in the 1970s and I think only a few would have believed, it would have expanded like it has.

The Picc-Vic Tunnel would create a superb service to the Airport, at a frequency upwards of six tph.

High Speed Two

The Picc-Vic Tunnel would have created the capacity in  for Manchester Piccadilly station and allowed High Speed Two services to use the station.

In The Rival Plans For Piccadilly Station, That Architects Say Will ‘Save Millions’, I talked about a radical plan for extending Manchester Piccadilly station for High Speed Two, that has been put forward by Weston Williamson; the architects.

This sort of scheme would also fit well with the Picc-Vic Tunnel.

Conclusion

Manchester was short-changed and not building the Picc-Vic Tunnel was a major mistake.

It would have created an underground railway in a similar mould to that of Liverpool’s, but it would probably have served a larger network.

They would probably be the best pair of underground railways for smaller cities in the world.

August 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

St. James Station To Reopen

This article on the Liverpool Echo is entitled Merseyside Set To Get Two New Train Stations As Part Of Massive Transport Investment.

One of the new stations will be a reopened Liverpool St. James station, which closed in 1917.

This Google Map shows the location of the station.

In the North-East corner is Liverpool’s Anglican cathedral.

In the South-West, there is a large road junction, where Parliament Street meets St. James Place. To the South-West of this junction, there is a black hole.

This Google Map shows a close-up of the hole.

Note the railway tracks in the dark of the hole.

This was where St. James station was located between Liverpool Central and Brunswick stations.

It would be a challenge to design a station, but one that a decent architect should enjoy.

This page on Disused Stations gives more details and several pictures of the station in all its glory.

August 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Irlam Station To Go Step-Free

This document on the Government web site is entitled Access for All: 73 Stations Set To Benefit From Additional Funding.

Irlam station is on the list.

These pictures show the station and the current subway.

The station was a total surprise, with a large pub-cafe and a lot of visitors and/or travellers sitting in the sun.

I had an excellent coffee and a very welcoming gluten-free blueberry muffin!

This Google Map shows the station.

It is one of those stations where commuters have to cross the railway either on the way to work or coming home.

So a step-free method of crossing the railway is absolutely necessary.

The Current And Future Rail Service

As the station lies conveniently between Liverpool and Warrington to the West and Manchester and Manchester Airport to the East, it must be a station with tremendous potential for increasing the number of passengers.

At the moment the service is two trains per hour (tph) between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road stations.

  • Oxford Road is probably not the best terminus, as it is not on the Metrolink network.
  • When I returned to Manchester, many passengers alighted at Deansgate for the Metrolink.
  • On the other hand, Liverpool Lime Street is a much better-connected station and it is backed up by Liverpool South Parkway station, which has a connection to Merseyrail’s Northern Line.
  • The current service doesn’t serve Manchester Piccadilly or Airport stations.

A guy in the cafe also told me that two tph are not enough and the trains are often too short.

Merseyrail work to the same principle as the London Overground and other cities of four tph at all times and the frequency certainly draws in passengers.

Whilst I was drinking my coffee, other trains past the station.

  • One tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport
  • One tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Norwich

Modern trains like Northern’s new Class 195 trains, should be able to execute stops at stations faster than the elderly diesel trains currently working the route.

So perhaps, after Irlam station becomes step-free, the Manchester Airport service should call as well.

As Liverpool Lime Street station has been remodelled, I can see a time in the not too distant future, when that station can support four tph, that all stop at Irlam station.

The Manchester end of the route could be a problem, as services terminating at Oxford Road have to cross the busy lines of the Castlefield Corridor.

So perhaps all services through Irlam, should go through Deansgate, Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly stations to terminate either at the Airport or perhaps Stockport or Hazel Grove stations.

But would this overload the Castlefield Corridor?

Battery/Electric Trains

If you look at the route between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road stations, the following can be seen.

  • Only about thirty miles between Deansgate and Liverpool South Parkway stations is not electrified.
  • The section without electrification doesn’t appear to be particularly challenging, as it is along the River Mersey.

It is my view, that the route between Liverpool and Manchester via Irlam, would be an ideal route for a battery/electric train.

A train between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport stations would do the following.

  • Run from Liverpool Lime Street station to Liverpool South Parkway station using the installed 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Drop the pantograph during the stop at Liverpool South Parkway station.
  • Run from Liverpool South Parkway station to Deansgate station using battery power.
  • Raise the pantograph during the stop at Deansgate station.
  • Run from Deansgate station to Manchester Airport station, using the installed 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

The exact distance between Deansgate and Liverpool South Parkway stations is 28.2 miles or 45.3 kilometres.

In 2015, I was told by the engineer riding shotgun on the battery/electric Class 379 train, that that experimental train was capable of doing fifty kilometres on battery power.

There are at least four possible trains, that could handle this route efficiently.

  • Porterbrook’s proposed batteryFLEX train based on a Class 350 train.
  • A battery/electric train based on the seemingly unwanted Class 379 train.
  • A battery/electric version of Stadler’s Class 755 train.
  • I believe that Bombardier’s Aventra has been designed so that a battery/electric version can be created.

There are probably others and I haven’t talked about hydrogen-powered trains.

Battery power between Liverpool and Manchester via Irlam, appears to be very feasible.

Tram-Trains

As my train ran between Manchster and Irlam it ran alongside the Metrolink between Cornbrook and Pomona tram stops.

Manchester is very serious about tram-trains, which I wrote about in Could A Class 399 Tram-Train With Batteries Go Between Manchester Victoria And Rochdale/Bury Bolton Street/Rawtenstall Stations?.

Tram-trains are often best employed to go right across a city, so could the Bury tram-trains go to Irlam after joining the route in the Cornbrook area?

  • Only about thirty miles between Deansgate and Liverpool South Parkway stations is not electrified.
  • The route between Liverpool and Manchester via Irlam doesn’t look to be a very challenging line to electrify.
  • The total distance bettween Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria station is only about forty miles, which is a short distance for a tram-train compared to some in Karlsruhe.
  • Merseyrail’s Northern Line terminates at Hunts Cross station, which is going to be made step-free.
  • There is an existing step-free interchange between the Liverpool and Manchester route via Irlam and Merseyrail’s Northern Line at Liverpool South Parkway station.
  • Class 399 tram-trains will have a battery capability in South Wales.
  • Class 399 tram-trains have an operating speed of 62 mph, which might be possible to increase.
  • Stadler make Class 399 tram-trains and are building the new Class 777 trains for Merseyrail.

I think that Stadler’s engineers will find a totally feasible and affordable way to link Manchester’s Metrolink with Liverpool Lime Street station and Merseyrail’s Northern and Wirral Lines.

I can envisage the following train service running between Liverpool and Manchester via Irlam.

  • An hourly service between Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham, as has been proposed for the new East Midlands Franchise.
  • A four tph service between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport via Manchester Piccadilly.
  • A tram-train every ten minutes, linking Liverpool Central and Manchester’s St Peter’s Square.
  • Tram-trains would extend to the North and East of Manchester as required.
  • All services would stop much more comprehensively, than the current services.
  • Several new stations would be built.
  • In the future, the tram-trains could have an interchange with High Speed Two at Warrington.

Obviously, this is just my speculation, based on what I’ve seen of tram-train networks in Germany.

The possibilities for the use of tram trains are wide-ranging.

Installing Step-Free Access At Irlam Station

There would appear to be two ways of installing step-free access at Irlam station.

  • Add lifts to the existing subway.
  • Add a separate bridge with lifts.

These are my thoughts on each method.

Adding Lifts To The Existing Subway

Consider.

  • The engineering would not be difficult.
  • Installaton would probably take a number of weeks.
  • There is good contractor access on both sides of the railway.

There are similar successful step-free installations around the UK

The problem is all about, how you deal with passengers, whilst the subway is closed for the installation of the lifts.

Adding A Separate Bridge With Lifts

Consider.

  • There is a lot of space at both the Eastern and Western ends of the platform to install a new bridge.
  • Adding a separate bridge has the big advantage, that during the installation of the bridge, passengers can use the existing subway.
  • Once the bridge is installed, the subway can be refurbished to an appropriate standard.

Passengers will probably prefer the construction of a new bridge.

In Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition, I wrote how the competition was won by this bridge.

So could a factory-built bridge like this be installed at Irlam station?

There is certainly space at both ends of the platform to install such a bridge and the daily business of the station and its passengers would be able to continue unhindered, during the installation.

I’m also sure, that the cafe would be happy to provide the daily needs of the workforce.

Conclusion

From a station and project management point-of-view, adding a new factory-built bridge to Irlam station is the easiest and quickest way to make the station step-free.

It also appears, that Network Rail have made a wise choice in deciding to put Irlam station on their list of stations to be made step-free, as the station could be a major part in creating a new high-capacity route between Liverpool and Manchester.

This could also be one of the first stations to use an example of the new bridge.

  • Installation would be quick and easy.
  • There is no site access problems.
  • There station can remain fully open during the installation.
  • All stakeholders would probably be in favour.

But above all, it would be a superb demonstration site to bring those from stations, where Network Rail are proposing to erect similar bridges.

July 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hunts Cross Station To Go Step-Free

This document on the Government web site is entitled Access for All: 73 Stations Set To Benefit From Additional Funding.

Hunts Cross station is on the list.

These pictures show the station and the current bridge.

Hunts Cross station, like St. Michaels station, has rather unusual long shallow angle ramps, with steps.

This 3D Google Map shows the station.

It may be unusual, but I suspect a conventional lift tower on each platform would make the station fully step-free.

Note.

  1. The station is Grade II Listed and is described as”A good example of the stations built for the Cheshire Lines Committee.”
  2. The ramps and bridge look to be in excellent condition and could be reasonably recent. Some repainting was actually in progress.
  3. For those that are in need of a drink, after climbing the ramps, there is a handy pub called the Waiting Room. It was busy, when I went to the station.
  4. As well as providing step-free entrance and exit to the station, the lifts would provide step-free interchange for passengers from Manchester needing to transfer to Merseyrail.
  5. Passengers arriving at the station, who need to go to Manchester, would do as they do now and walk across the platform.
  6. Do the last two pictures in the gallery show that the bridge was built or has been modified for lifts to be added? The bridge seems to have a lower wall, which could be removed.
  7. There may be some adjustments needed to the path that Links the station entrance to the bridge.

I’m also pretty certain, that the layout of the station, would allow works to be done, whilst the station is in full operation.

Preparation For Class 777 Trains

Unlike most other stations, that I saw on on the Merseyrail network, work appears to be outstanding to create level access between the new Class 777 trains and platform.

Future Electrification

The bridge would appear to be high enough to clear any future 25 KVAC electrification.

Conclusion

This shouldn’t be the most difficult of projects, unless the Heritage Lobby get upset.

The only problem, I can see would be, it might attract more passengers and create a need for a larger car park.

June 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

NR States Ambition To Keep Liverpool Moving During Major Lime Street Work

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Liverpool Lime Street will remain “open for business” whilst it undergoes major work this autumn, Network Rail has today reassured passengers in the region.

The latest stage of work will take place between 30 September and 22 October in what is one of the biggest upgrades the station has seen since the 19th century.

The station upgrade is part of a £340 million railway investment in the Liverpool City Region.

This document from Network Rail describes the scope of the project in detail.

These are some extracts from the document.

What Are The Benefits For Passengers?

The Liverpool City Region Railway Upgrade Plan will deliver for passengers:

  •  A bigger and better railway network with longer and faster trains
  •  More reliable railway infrastructure
  • Better facilities for passengers, especially at stations
  • Increased capacity/additional services

What Will This Mean In Practice?

  • Three extra services per hour, in and out of Lime Street station, such as the planned new First Transpennine Express
    services from Liverpool to Glasgow in 2019.
  • Better east-west connectivity to and from Liverpool.
  • New services to Chester via Liverpool South Parkway and the opportunity to develop more routes into North Wales in the future.
  • New station facilities and interchange at Newton-Le-Willows.
  • A new station at ‘Maghull North’ to support growth in passenger demand.
  • New signalling which will improve the reliability of the network and speed up decision making to minimise disruption.
  • Works to facilitate the running of new trains on the Wirral and Northern lines.

Liverpool Lime Street Station

Liverpool Lime Street station will be getting a major upgrade consisting of the following.

  • Two new platforms between the current platforms 7 and 8.
  • Platform lengthening.
  • Improved signalling and electrification.
  • More shops.

This should enable another three trains per hour to be handled.

It’s over fifty years since I first arrived in Lime Street to go to Liverpool University and the station has changed a lot in those years. Network Rail are saying, that this upgrade will cope with the doubling of passenger number expected before 2043.

Using Liverpool South Parkway Station As A Relief Terminus

The upgrade will mean that at times during the works, trains into Liverpool will not be able to access Lime Street. So some trains will terminate at Liverpool South Parkway station from where passengers can take Merseyrail’s Northern Line to the City Centre.

How many of our large cities can cope, when the main station is closed?

  • Glasgow proved they can, when Queen Street station was closed.
  • London is managing biow, with mahor works going on at Waterloo.
  • Manchester’s ability to cope will surely be greatly improved when the Ordsall Chord opens.
  • Birmingham seemed to manage during the rebuilding of New Street station.
  • Newcastle has the Metro to help.
  • Sheffield has a second station at Meadowhall.

Would Leeds be the city to struggle?

Liverpool will probably cope well, as there are various rail routes into the City, that avoid Lime Street, most of which have four trains per hour.

I always remember the Liverpool Bus Strike of around 1967. Liverpudlians just walked, as did most of the students like me, who needed to get into the University.

I don’t think, it will come to walking this time, as Network Rail have promised quality buses.

Conclusion

There is a lot of work to do, but after the example of Waterloo, it is likely to go fairly well to plan.

But there will be a few hiccups.

August 17, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

An Overview Of Headbolt Lane Station

Headbolt Lane station is Merseyrail’s solution to connecting the single-track Kirkby Branch of the Northern Line to the double-track Kirkby Branch Line from Wigan  Wallgate station in an efficient manner.

At present at Kirkby station, the following happens.

  • The two lines meet head-on at Kirkby station, which is less than satisfactory, with a walk along a shared platform to change trains.
  • The service between Liverpool and Kirkby is a Turn-Up-And-Go four tph.
  • The service between Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate and Manchester is just one tph.
  • Also, I’m also not sure of the quality of the facilities at Kirkby station.

, So hopefully a new station at Headbolt Lane would offer advantages.

  • It would be a better-equipped station.
  • Interchange would be cross-platform.
  • The trains would be timed to be in the station at the same time.
  • The trains can double as waiting rooms, whilst waiting for passengers.
  • Ideally the frequencies on both branches would be the same at four tph.

I reckon that the current trains would take about the same four minutes to go from Kirkby to Headbolt Lane as they do between Fazakerley and Kirkby, as the distances are similar. So as the current trains seem to stop quickly at stations according to the timetable, perhaps a time of ten minutes between Fazakerley and Headbolt Lane is on the cards..

So given the need for the driver to change ends at Headbolt Lane station, it looks like the timings available with the current trains are not fast enough to allow the line to be extended to Headbolt Lane station and maintain the current four tph.

Four tph could probably be achieved if the line was made double-track or if a second turn-back platform were to be provided at Headbolt Lane station.

But all that would cost money.

But help would be at hand, in that the faster new Stadler trains,with  their ability to stop and get going again very quickly, would probably be designed to execute the turnback fast enough to keep the four tph service.

So it might appear that the consequence of this, is that Headbolt Lane station can’t be served by Merseyrail at four tph, until the new Stadler trains are delivered, unless the Class 507 trains are faster than they appear and the drivers know how to squeeze out their maximum performance.

One complication could be that services to Skelmersdale will pass through the station.

But this would probably ease the provision of four tph to and from Liverpool, as Skelmersdale would offer another station, where trains could be turned back, if say two tph turned at Headbolt Lane and two tph at Skelmersdale.

It might be that extension to Skelmersdale and making Headbolt Lane the turnback station for Kirkby need to be done together to get four tph from Kirkby to Liverpool with the current trains.

Before I leave the subject of Headbolt station, the question has to be asked, if trains can run directly between Liverpool and Wigan Wallgate.

Some would argue, that if you were doing that route, you’d go from Liverpool Lime Street to Wigan North Western, but what if you live at Kirkdale and your mother lives in Wigan?

As I believe that lines like these need a Turn-up-And-Go four tph, and I believe Merseyrail think the same way, then the best solution is to provide four tph both ways from Headbolt Lane station and make sure that passengers can just walk across to continue their journey.

Conclusion

I have come to the conclusion, that four tph from Kirkdale to Manchester is possible with a cross-platform change at Headbolt Lane station.

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

Extra Services To Southport On Merseyrail’s Northern Line

Local interests have ambitions to connect Ormskirk and Southport stations, as is detailed in Wikipedia under Future Developments in the Wikipedia entry for Ormskirk station.

There have been calls from local authorities and the local rail user group to reopen both curves at Burscough to allow the reinstatement of through trains from here to Southport, as well as to reinstate through services between Preston & Liverpool via Ormskirk and to rebuild & reopen the Skelmersdale branch.[7] Merseytravel’s 2014 ‘Liverpool City Region Long Term Rail Strategy’ does not back plans for an Ormskirk to Skelmersdale route (instead proposing that the link be provided from the Kirkby to Wigan Wallgate line), though it does suggest that a new bi-level interchange at Burscough Bridge could be built to provide improved interchange facilities between the Ormskirk branch and the Wigan to Southport line in addition to reopening the curves and extending electrification through to Preston & Southport.

, To connect the two stations would mean doing at least the following.

  • Reinstate the South Burscough Curve as a single track
  • The South Burscough Curve would have bi-directional signalling and third rail electrification.
  • Remodel Ormskirk station.

This picture shows what remains of the second platform at Ormskirk station.

The second platform could probably be reinstated reasonably easily, but I wonder if a clever station designer and train scheduler could organise Liverpool, Preston and Southport services around a single long platform?

The current layout could be actually considered to be two platforms, as one end serves Liverpool trains and other Preston trains.

So in this explanation, I’ll refer to them as the Liverpool Platform and the Preston Platform.

  • The Liverpool platform would be long enough to take two new Stadler trains.
  • The Preston platform would be long enough for the longest train likely to work an Ormskirk to Preston service.
  • An electrified passing loop starting from between the two platforms and extending towards Burcough Junction station would be installed.

Consider.

  • Trains arriving and returning to Liverpool would operate as they do now using the Liverpool platform.
  • Trains arriving and returning to Preston would operate as they do now using the Preston platform, but stop within the passing loop.
  • Passengers changing between Liverpool and Preston services would change trains as they do now, by walking along the platform.
  • Liverpool to Southport and Liverpool to Preston services would use the Liverpool platform and would either go through the Preston platform or use the passing loop as appropriate.

Two parallel platform stations are so nineteenth century!

These modifications between Ormskirk and Southport  would improve train services in the following ways.

  • Create more capacity between Liverpool and Southport.
  • Allow travellers to go between Southport and the Ormskirk Branch of the Northern Line , without going via Sandhills station.
  • Allow access to Manchester services at Burscough Bridge station
  • Add direct Liverpool services to those to Manchester and Southport to all the new housing that seems to be under construction around the Southport to Manchester Line.
  • Enable the construction of one or more new stations, like Kew Gardens in Southport, which is close to the hospital.

You can certainly understand why Merseyrail appears to be keen.

There are lots of ways to organise services.

I suspect one of the most efficient ways will be to run the trains in a loop going to and starting from Hunts Croos and going to Liverpool Central via Liverpool Central, Southport, Burscough Bridge, Burscough Junction and Ormskirk. Four trains per hour (tph) would go in one direction and four tph in the other.

Timing with the current trains are as follows.

  • Hunts Cross to Southport – 64 minutes
  • Southport to Burscough Bridge – 22 minutes
  • Burscough Bridge to Ormskirk – 9 minutes – estimated
  • Ormskirk to Liverpool Central – 34 minutes
  • Kirkby to Liverpool Central – 18 minutes.

These timings are not the easiest to put together to make a four tph schedule.

As an example, if you want a current Class 508 train to go from Hunts Cross to Southport and back again, it will take 128 minutes plus whatever it takes to turn the train at each end. Allowing eleven minutes at each end gives a time of two and a half hours, which means ten trains are needed for a full four tph.

Ormskirk to Liverpool central will also need trains. If they could do Liverpool Central to Ormskirk and back in under an hour, that would need four tph..

The new Stadler trains have been designed to do the journey nine minutes quicker, which means that if the turnrounds are a bit quicker, it could be possible to do the round trip in two hours, which would mean only eight trains would be needed for a full four tph.

Ormskirk to Liverpool central will also need trains. If they could do Liverpool Central to Ormskirk and back in under an hour, that would need four tph..

If you look at the full loop with the current trains, this takes 258 minutes plus perhaps 30 minutes for the two reverses at Southport and the one at Liverpool Central. So we get a time of probably three hours and a requirement of 12 trains to run 4 tph to both Ormskirk and Southport and provide a four tph service between the two current termini.

As the current services need ten trains for Hunts Cross-Southport and four for Liverpool Central-Ormskirk, the loop saves two trains.

With the new Stadler trains, I suspect they could do the loop diagram in under two hours, which would mean just eight trains for a full four tph.

Thus, extra services can be provided between Ormskirk and Southport with a requirement of four less trains than running the lines individually.

Services to Southport and Ormskirk from Liverpool would be as follows.

  • Southport to Hunts Cross via Formby – 4 tph
  • Southport to Liverpool Central via Ormskirk – 4 tph

But the big difference is most stations on the Northern Line are served by four tph from Hunts Cross and Southport and all the other stations need a single change and a wait of a few minutes.

To operate the loop service, it would need Ormskirk to Southport to be fully electrified.

Southport To Manchester

You then have the situation if a Class 319 Flex train were to work Southport to Manchester, that it would work as follows.

  • Southport to Burscough Bridge – using third-rail electrification when installed.
  • Burscough Bridge to Bolton – using diesel power.
  • Bolton to Manchester – using overhead electrification.

Southport would become an all electric station.

To get a full electric service to Manchester, it would only be necessary to electrify between Manchester and Burscough Bridge, where the chsngeover would take place.

I have followed this line in my helicopter and there are only three small bridges and a level crossing between Burscough Bridge and Wigan Wallgate stations.

So I suspect electrifying from Wigan to Burscough Bridge could be an easier electrification than most.

Conclusions

I have come to the following main conclusion.

Combining Southport and Ormskirk services in a loop via a reinstated South Burscough Curve, means the following.

  • Southport gets eight trains per hour (tph) to and from Liverpool.
  • Ormskirk gets four tph to and from Liverpool.
  • All stations on the Northern Line get four direct or single-change tph from Hunts Cross, Southport and Liverpool Central.
  • Ormskirk to Southport and all intermediate stations get 4 tph in both directions.
  • The service can be run by less trains than needed for independent operation to Southport and Otmskirk.

Southport to Ormskirk needs third-rail electrification.

There were a some subsidiary conclusions.

  • Ormskirk station can be based on a single platform with a passing loop, which could allow Liverpool-Preston services.
  • Ormskirk station could still run the current Ormskirk to Preston service.
  • The third-rail electrification between Southport and Burscough Bridge stations could be used by Class 319 Flex trains working services between Southport and Manchester.
  • Southport could become an all electric station.

I suspect that others could do much better.

 

 

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments