The Anonymous Widower

Grayling: No Solution To Oxford Road Woes

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Place North West.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said there is no “simple, quick, non-disruptive solution” to improving journeys on one of the most congested rail routes in and out of Manchester, arguing the cost of the original scheme was “way out of kilter”.

Plans to extend platforms at Oxford Road station have been mooted for a number of years, and were designed to take advantage of the completion of the Ordsall Chord to allow more frequent trains between Piccadilly, Victoria, and beyond.

The more I read about the problems of the Castlefield corridor through Manchester, the more I’m coming to the conclusion, that British Rail’s three tunnel scheme for the North was the right solution.

Liverpool

Liverpool got the Loop And Link Project, which is described like this in Wikipedia.

The major engineering works required to integrate the Northern and Wirral lines became known as the ‘Loop’ and ‘Link’ Project. The ‘Loop’ was the Wirral Line tunnel and the ‘Link’ the Northern Line tunnel, both under Liverpool’s city centre. The main works were undertaken between 1972 and 1977. A further project, known as the Edge Hill Spur, would have integrated the City Lines into the city centre underground network. This would have meshed the eastern section of the city into the core underground electric city centre section of the network, releasing platforms at mainline Lime Street station for mid to long haul routes.

The Edge Hill Spur was never built and if it had, it may have created the extra capacity, that Liverpool Lime Street station has now finally got, but several years ago.

Liverpool’s Underground railways are getting a new fleet of Class 777 trains and will be expanded in the next few years.

British Rail’s scheme for Liverpool has been successful.

Although, I am surprised that the layout of a single-track loop tunnel, that is used to terminate the Wirral Line, has not been copied more.

Newcastle

Newcastle got tunnels under the city, to join up the Tyne and Wear Metro in the late 1970s.

The Metro is now getting a new fleet of trains and will be further expanded.

British Rail’s scheme for Newcastle has been successful.

Manchester

Manchester had a scheme in the pipeline called the Picc-Vic Tunnel.

This Proposal section in Wikipedia gives a full description of the project. This is the first paragraph.

The South-East Lancashire and North-East Cheshire Public Transport Executive (SELNEC PTE) – the local transport authority which became the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) in 1974 (now Transport for Greater Manchester – TfGM) – made a proposal in 1971 to connect the unjoined railways running through Manchester city centre under the Picc-Vic scheme. The Picc-Vic proposal envisaged joining the two halves of the rail network by constructing new tunnels under the city centre, connecting Manchester’s two main railway stations, Piccadilly and Victoria. This new underground railway would be served by three new underground stations, joining together the regional, national and local rail networks with an underground rapid transit system for Manchester.

It also gives these three objectives for the scheme.

  • To improve the distribution arrangements from the existing railway stations which are on the periphery of the central core
  • To link the separated northern and southern railway systems
  • To improve passenger movement within the central area.

This is also said.

It formed part of a four-phase, Long Term Strategy for GMPTE over 25 years, which included bus priority and an East-West railway network, as well as a light rapid transport system.

The scheme was cancelled by Harold Wilson’s government, partly because he believed that railways were of the past and that everybody would be able to afford their own car and wouldn’t need to use trains.

It should also be remembered that his government also cancelled the Channel Tunnel and London’s Third Airport at Maplin.

It’s funny, but I thought, I’d used the Channel Tunnel several times. Perhaps, Harold Wilson didn’t get his out-of-kilter thinking sufficiently into the minds of Civil Servants. Although, there is still the Treasury’s periodic attempts to kill High Speed Two. But that is driven by the belief of the average Oxford graduate, that there is nothing worth visiting North of Watford.

The Picc-Vic Tunnel may not have completely solved Manchester’s rail connectivity, but it is my belief that it would have been a good start.

A Few Random Thoughts

These are a few random thoughts on the various schemes in Manchester.

Development of Piccadilly And Victoria After A Picc-Vic Tunnel

One of the reasons for cancellation, was that after the building of the tunnel, two large stations would still be maintained in the City.

Looking at various schemes across Europe including Kassel and Leipzig in Germany, where central tunnels have been built, this releases the terminals for development with smaller numbers of platforms.

I think if the Picc-Vic Tunnel had been built, then Piccadilly and Victoria might have morphed into combined through and terminal station like the excellent London Bridge. The released space at Piccadilly would have allowed High Speed Two to be integrated.

But of course, the elite in the Civil Service isn’t interested in High Speed Trains, except on their holidays in France.

TransPennines New Trains

Greater Anglia needed to have new rolling stock for services between London and Norwich.

They needed trains with following.

  1. 100 mph running
  2. Eight coaches
  3. Powerful traction
  4. Short station dwell times.
  5. High quality.

So they ordered a fleet of new Class 745 trains.

  • 100 mph running
  • Twelve coaches
  • Walk-through trains
  • 757 seats
  • Double doors for easy entry and exit.

It’s also rumoured that platform height will be adjusted so that that buggy-pushers and wheelchair-users will have level access between train and platform at all stations.

  • If you want to do Norwich-in-90 for all trains, then a short station dwell time is essential.
  • It also means if passenger numbers need another station to be added to a route, the extra stop only blows a small hole in the schedule, as opposed to a large one for a train of Mark 3 coaches.
  • I have a feeling Greater Anglia are aiming to send all their disabled ramps to the scrapyard.

So what trains have TransPennine ordered?

AQll these trains will have single-doors at both end of each car. That’s classic crap design!

It will be interesting to see the average dwell time of a train on the Castlefield Corridor and compare it with that of Class 745 trains calling at Ipswich, Colchester and Chelmsford.

My money’s on Swiss clockwork!

Northern’s New Trains

Northern’s new Class 195 and Class 331 trains appear to have two sets of double-doors on each side of each car.

Now that’s more like it!

Improving Throughput On The Castlefield Corridor

If you look at successful high-capacity lines with a lot of stopping trains like most lines on the London Underground, Thameslink the Tyne and Wear Metro and the Merseyrail Northern Line, all trains are the same.

One of the problems with the trains through Castlefield, is that there are a lot of diffeent trains. So doors on your train may be in a different position to those on the previous train.

This means that passengers will be more likely to be in the wrong place, which means loading takes longer.

It is probably too much to get identical trains running on the route, but TransPennine’s trains with end doors will make matters worse for capacity.

I don’t think, any train should be allowed on the route, unless it has two sets of double-doors on each side of all cars.

The route should also have digital signalling.

If the North London Line can handle eight passenger and two freight trains per hour, then surely the Castlefield Corridor can do the same.

Passenger Behaviour

I was chatting to a station guy on Platform 14 at Piccadilly, who had also worked on the London Underground.

He told me, that Londoners obey his instructions to stand-back, whereas Mancunians don’t!

I watched for about twenty minutes and I think because the trains are rather bad time keepers, when one arrives everybody wants to get on immediately.

Single doors on TransPennine’s trains will make this behaviour worse!

Conclusion

I think Chris Grayling mades a good summary of the problems of doing major work on a busy passenger and freight corridor through a major city.

The only way to deal with the problems of the Castlefield Corridor, is a series of small improvements to the existing system.

  • All trains through the corridor must have two double-doors on each side of each car.
  • Digital signalling must be installed.
  • Platform access must be improved with lots of lifts and escalators.

I also feel that if the trains were running to the timetable, then passengers wouldn’t crowd the platforms.

 

 

 

May 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Trying To Get Near The Footbridge Underneath The Ordsall Chord

The Ordsall Chord scheme incorporates a foiotbridge across the Irwell, which should give good a good view of the massive bridge.

I tried to get near it yesterday.

But as you can see, I failed.

There’s just too much construction in the way!

February 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

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 | Transport | , , , , , | 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 | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Karen’s Travel Problem

My friend, Karen, has a train problem.

She lives in Leeds and needs to go to Milton Keynes regularly.

The journey is difficult with often two changes and the need to go across Manchester.

But not from Monday!

It appears that under the new timetable, all the XX:50 trains from Leeds, go direct to Piccadilly over the Ordsall Chord and now give you twenty-five minutes to catch a direct train to Milton Keynes.

The total journey time is just under three hours.

The return journey seems quicker too!

It will be interesting to see, how much the Ordsall Chord changes journeys across Manchester!

May 19, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

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 | Transport | , | 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 | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Trains Are Timetabled Between Leeds And Manchester Oxford Road Station This Week

I have been looking at the National Rail timetables and it appears that certainly on Monday and possibly tomorrow, trains are timetabled to run between Leeds and Manchester Oxford Road stations, stopping at Manchester Victoria station.

This means that weather permitting, the Ordsall Chord is expected to be open. Weather permitting of course!

It’s now Sunday morning and according to the National Rail train departures system, the 08:57 train from Manchester Oxford Road to Leeds is ready to rumble.

The article in The Independent is entitled Six Minute Rail Link Promises To Transform North West Train Services.

It gives this precise explanation of what the Ordsall Chord is all about.

Network Rail, which has created the £85m link, says: “Congestion currently seen at Manchester Piccadilly will reduce by a quarter with some services being rerouted through Manchester Victoria.

“There will be more capacity on the railway, meaning more frequent trains to run.”

By connecting Victoria and Oxford Road stations for the first time, the Ordsall Chord will provide a link from Leeds to Manchester airport which does not require trains to reverse, and free up space by reducing the number of services terminating at Victoria.

I would assume that this short length of railway, has been built so that it can handle a high frequency of trains across the City. So if it has been traditionally signalled like the East London Line of the Overground train frequencies of upwards of twelve trains per hour (tph) will certainly be possible.

But modern signalling using ERTMS, will give this route a frequency up there with Crossrail and Thameslink of twenty-four tph.

Manchester’s Crossrail

Manchester has got its Crossrail, a year before London.

I don’t think Manchester knows what is going to hit the City!

A lot of local services at Manchester Victoria are arranged so that they run back-to-back connecting pl;aces like Blackburn, Kirkby, Southport, Stalybridge, Todmorden and Wigan.

Now services will run back-to-back through the core of Victoria, Salford Central, Deansgate, Oxford Road, Piccadilly and the Airport.

  • Manchester has gained a Third City Crossing!
  • It needs a frequency of at least twelve tph or one train every five minutes.

On the section between Deansgate and Piccadilly, there will be even more trains.

  • Piccadilly to Liverpool Lime Street and Warrington services
  • Piccadilly to Blackpool, Bolton, Preston and Southport services via Salford Central and the Windsor Link Line.

Summing this spaghetti up, you get destinations to the North of the Irwell.

  • Barrow/Lancaster/Windermere
  • Blackburn
  • Blackpool *
  • Bolton *
  • Clitheroe
  • Glasgow/Edinburgh *
  • Halifax
  • Kirkby
  • Leeds
  • Liverpool *
  • Preston *
  • Rochdale
  • Southport
  • Stalybridge *
  • Warrington

And these to the South

  • Buxton
  • Crewe *
  • Glossop/Hadfield *
  • Hazel Grove *
  • Manchester Airport *
  • Stockport *

Note.

  1. The stations marked with asterisks (*) will be fully electrified by the end of 2018.
  2. Piccadilly is not included in the list of stations South of the Irwell, as it is not a station, where trains can be reversed to go North.
  3. Oxford Road can be used to reverse trains and it is significant the the first Ordsall Chord services are between Oxford Road and Leeds.

There is a lot of scope for back-to-back services across the Irwell using the current Class 319 trains, that work Liverpool to Manchester, Preston and Wigan services.

Thinking about what Manchester has now got, it’s more like Thameslink than Crossrail, as it has a lot of branches on both sides of the Irwell.

So perhaps it should be called IrwellLink?

The Arrival Of the Class 769 Trains

Northern have another train up their sleeve! Or should I say, under construction in Loughborough?

At least eleven of the Class 769 bi-mode train are coming!

On paper these trains seem a bizarre but simple idea! You take a nearly thirty-year-old British Rail Class 319 train and fit two diesel alternator sets underneath, so that it can generate its own electric power on lines without electrification.

But in practice, it appears Northern will be getting a train that can do the following.

  • Bridge all the electrification gaps in the North-West of England.
  • Work the very stiff Manchester to Buxton route.
  • Do 100 mph under the wires and 90 mph on diesel.
  • Meet all the regulations with respect to Persons of Reduced Mobility.
  • Deputise for and augment Class 319 trains when required.
  • Give a performance improvement over Pacers and Class 150 and Class 156 trains.
  • Work into most stations, where Pacers and Class 150/156 trains currently work, without station upgrades.

All this comes in a strong Mark 3-based design, that drivers seem to like.

I think that Northern said a lot about their confidence in these trains, when they increased the order from eight to eleven, around the time serious testing started.

If more than eleven Class 769 trains are needed, there are a total of 86 Class 319 trains of which 32 are the Class 319/4 variant, which would be the preferred conversion, as they have a better interior.

Class 769 Train Routes

The Class 769 trains could work between Leeds and Oxford Road stations, as soon as they receive certification.

But surely, one of their main uses will be to link destinations on lines without electrification on either side of the electrified core lines in Manchester.

This map from Wikipedia shows the layout of the main lines and stations in Central Manchester.

Starting at the top and going anti-clockwise the stations are as follows on the lin, which is fully electrified.

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

The Ordsall Chord is shown in red.

Note that most of the lines radiating from the cross-city line can be joined to the others.

This leads to services such as.

  • Buxton to Clitheroe via Piccadilly, Salford Cresent, Bolton and Blackburn
  • Crewe to Blackburn via The Styal Line, Piccadilly, Victoria, Todmorden and Burnley.
  • Southport to Manchester Airport.
  • Sheffield to Liverpool via the Hope Valley Line, Stockport, Piccadilly and Warrington.
  • Kirkby to Stalybridge

Feel free to add any route you feel convenient.

Add in a few extra platforms at perhaps the two Salford and Oxford Road stations and Manchester could have a rail network, that would be second-to-very-few.

There are also a lot of opportunities around Leeds and along the East Coast Main Line.

 

 

December 9, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 4 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 | Transport | , | 3 Comments

Ordsall Chord Progress – 22nd September 2017

The Ordsall Chord is coming on.

The wires would appear to be on the way up and it looks like trains will be running over it on schedule around the end of December 2017.

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment