The Anonymous Widower

A Double Crossing Of The Ordsall Chord

I caught the first morning train from Manchester Victoria station across the Ordsall Chord to Manchester Oxford station, where after buying hot chocolate, I took the same diesel multiple unit back to Hebden Bridge station.

A few points about the Ordsall Cord and its effects.

Mancunians Have Been Quick To Use The Chord To Their Advantage

It was only the second weekday of this Ordsall Chord service, but what surprised me was that quite a few of the early travellers went to the extra two added stations on the service.

This bodes well for the future in that when Piccadilly and the Airport are added, the passengers will surely travel.

Manchester Victoria Is An Inadequate Station For The Number Of Passengers

The station may have improved in recent years, since the new roof, better tram access and more retail facilities have been added, but it is still a rather poor station for passengers to walk around, compared to others with similar amounts of trains.

 

I took this picture as the train before mine unloaded passengers at Victoria station.

It is the typical scrum that you get at busy stations in the North.

The Ordsall Chord will affect Victoria in the following ways.

  • There will be more trains passing through. This will increase the number of passengers entering and leaving the station.
  • Passengers will change trains but not platforms at Victoria. This will mean that passengers will regularly wait for 15-30 minutes on the platform.
  • Ideally services like Liverpool to Leeds and Newcastle, should have same or cross platform interchange with local services using the Ordsall Chord.

So what needs to be addressed?

Platforms

The Ordsall Chord is currently served by Plstforms 5 and 6.

These platforms are totally inadequate for the extra numbers of passengers and especially the extra passengers, who will wait on the platform, whilst changing trains.

  • A coffee kiosk is needed on both Ordsall platforms.
  • The platforms are not wide enough.
  • There are not enough seats.

Both platforms are used to terminate services, which is totally against the philosophy of the Ordsall Chord. This must and hopefully will stop.

Ideally, Ordsall Chord services and important cross-Manchester services should have a platform layout, that means as many changes as possible are level.

Take the case of the elderly passenger with their presents in a bulky case going from say Liverpool to perhaps Rochdale for Christmas. They will not want to negotiate the bridge at Victoria, even by lift to change trains. And neither will staff.

But a cross or same platform interchange would be ideal for everyone.

The layout would all depend on how many services are going through the station..

Currently, the station has the following services.

  • Five tph terminating at the station going West
  • Six tph terminating at the station going East
  • Three tph cross-Manchester services stopping at the station.

If these services could be simplified by joining East and West services back-to-back, we are looking at perhaps ten tph.

As there are many stations in London that handle fourteen to sixteen tph on two platforms, the following would surely be possible.

  • Use one platform for all Westbound cross-Manchester and Ordsall Chord services.
  • Use one platform for all Eastbound cross-Manchester and Ordsall Chord services.

Platform 5 and 6 would not be ideal for this, as the services should be on either side of a wide island platform, to allow passengers to reverse direction without changing level.

Lighting

I know it was early in the morning, but the picture shows how dark and dingy the station still is. Surely, just on the grounds of Health and Safety, the lighting levels must be improved.

The Overbridge

Surely, if the rebuilt Reading and Leeds stations can have escalators for their overbridges, then the equally important. but smaller Manchester Victoria, should have some on the busy overbridge.

The Interchange Between Tram And Train At Deansgate

Did people get off the train at Deansgate station to use the Metrolink?

Changing from train to tram at Victoria, involves a fight through crowds to get up the stairs to the bridge and then another another set of stairs to get to the Metrolink.

But at Deansgate station coming from Victoria, it is just a level walk across to the major Deansgate-Castlefield Metrolink interchange.

It would appear that 2015 redevelopment of the tram stop and its link to the station were designed for the extra passengers, that the Ordsall Chord will surely bring.

Deansgate-Castlefield with its three platforms, also has a comprehensive list of services.

  • 5 trams per hour to Altrincham
  • 5 trams per hour to Ashton-under-Lyne
  • 5 trams per hour to East Didsbury
  • 5 trams per hour to Eccles via MediaCityUK
  • 5 trams per hour to Etihad Campus
  • 5 trams per hour to Manchester Airport
  • 5 trams per hour to Rochdale Town Centre
 And these are just the Off Peak, before the important Trafford Park Line opens in 2021.

Avoiding Piccadilly

Manchester Piccadilly station is one of my least favourite stations in the UK for using the trains.

  • I always travel to and from Manchester in Standard Class, to avoid the crowded walk up and down the platform at Piccadilly.
  • I know there’s a bridge at the London end of the train, but it is not directly connected to the Metrolink underneath.
  • Buying a ticket for the Metrolink is a tiresome business, when I should just be able to touch in and out with my bank card.
  • The forecourt of the station is always crowded.
  • Only the above average food offerings for a coeliac give me any cheer.

Hopefully, when the services across the Ordsall Chord are fully developed, a lot of places I want to go will be available by changing trains at Crewe or Stockport.

Manchester’s Third City Crossing

In some ways the nearest London has to the Ordsall Chord is the railway across the South Bank connecting London Bridge, Blackfriars, Waterloo East and Charing Cross stations, which carries in excess of twelve tph. It appears to me and staff I have talked to, that passengers are using this route  between Westminster and London Bridge, instead of the Jubilee Line. Especially, if they have bicycles!

Will Mancunians use the frequent service on the Ordsall Chord across the city, as a Third City Crossing?

Platforms At Salford Central Station

I hope the planned extra platforms at Salford Central station are built in the near future, as this would surely increase the use of the Ordsall Chord

Tickets To Manchester Stations

My ticket to Manchester from Euston was to Manchester Stns, which means i can get out at Deansgate, Oxford Road, Piccadilly or Victoria.

Surely, it should include Salford Central station.

Platforms At

There’s Still A Few Snags

In my trip, I went across the Orsall Chord four times.

Each time, the train waited a minute or so before proceeding over the bridge. Were there signalling issues, the trains were not quite to time or were the drivers just being cautious.

Conclusion

Now that the difficult phase is complete, it will be interesting to see how the swervices build up.

December 12, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

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 | Travel | , , | 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 | Travel | , | 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 | Travel | , | Leave a comment

How A Sketch On A Piece Of Paper Became An £85m Rail Bridge

The title of this post is the same as an article on inews, which describes the design process for the bridge over the Irwell in Manchester, which is the centrepiece of the Ordsall Chord.

It is a fascinating insight into the design of what could become Manchester’s new icon.

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

Crossrail 2: City Mayors Criticise Government Backing

This is the headline on an article on the BBC.

This is the first three paragraphs.

Two city mayors have criticised the government’s decision to back Crossrail 2, days after it scrapped rail electrification plans in Wales, the Midlands and the north of England.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said there would be “widespread anger” at the decision to back the railway line, which will run through London.
Liverpool City Region’s mayor said there needed to be “balanced spending”.

I can understand the anger, especially in Manchester, where the electrification is running a couple of years late.

The Picc-Vic Tunnel

Manchester was unlucky, in that of the three Northern tunnel projects of the seventies; Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle, the Picc-Vic tunnel was the one that was cancelled by Harold Wilson. Birmingham and London both got cross-city rail tunnels with the same name; Snow Hill.

Perhaps, Manchester should have renamed Piccadilly Gardens!

Liverpool’s tunnel of the same period has recently been rebuilt and Merseyrail have just ordered a new fleet of Stadler trains to improve and expand their commuter network.

Newcastle’s tunnel helped to create the Tyne and Wear Metro, which is in the process of ordering new trains and expanding.

What would have happened to Manchester, if British Rail’s plans had been allowed to proceed?

All Manchester got was the Metrolink, which compared to tram systems in Birmingham, Blackpool, Croydon, Edinburgh and Nottingham is rather second-rate, despite being the largest.

The Ordsall Chord

Let’s hope that the Ordsall Chord works as it says on the tin. Wikipedia says this about the chord’s operation.

The Ordsall Chord will provide a direct link between Piccadilly and Victoria stations, allowing trains from Manchester Victoria and the east to continue to Piccadilly. Following completion of the chord, four trains per hour will travel between Manchester Airport/Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria in each direction, and associated reorganisation of train paths and retimetabling will provide eight trains per hour from Manchester Victoria towards the west via Chat Moss, and six trains per hour from Manchester Piccadilly towards either Chat Moss or Bolton and Preston (trains from both Victoria and Piccadilly stations to the west and north west (Chat Moss, Liverpool, Bolton, Preston, etc.) do not actually pass over the Ordsall Chord, both ends of which lead eastwards, but travel over pre-existing track).

But as British Rail said in the 1970s, surely a properly designed tunnel under Manchester with up to three stations in the City Centre  would have been better, than the Ordsall Chord.

But what’s done is done and anyway, if the Picc-Vic tunnel had been started in 2016, as was the Ordsall Chord, it probably wouldn’t have been finished until 2026.

Where Are The Trains?

Northern and TransPennine Express are renewing their train fleets, but Manchester’s new electrified lines will need new trains from the end of this year.

The elderly Class 319 trains have stepped up to the plate, like the troopers they have always been. They would have arrived earlier, had the new Class 700 trains arrived on time.

Where Is The Electrification?

The UK and not just the North, has a particular problem and that is, that a lot of our railway lines run through quality countryside, some of which is spectacular.

So imagine trying to electrify the following lines with overhead wires.

  • Manchester to Buxton
  • Ipswich to Lowestoft
  • Ashford to Hastings
  • Settle to Carlisle
  • Preston to Leeds via Hebden Bridge

The Heritage lobby and their lawyers would tie nNetwork Rail in knots for decades.

On a practical level, from the stories I’ve heard about the electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line near where I live, there are myriad problems with installing electrification in this country.

A lot seems to be down to the fact that British Rail and their predecessors weren’t good at keeping records.

The Class 319 Flex Train

I was once told by an engineer who worked on the InterCity 125, of a mythical pub in Derby, where Rolls-Royce and British Rail engineers met to talk about their problems. Could it be that Derby-based Porterbrook and Northern have tapped this network and came up with the bi-mode Class 769 train, which is a modification to a Class 319 train and must surely be the ultimate manifestation of British Rail’s legendary Mark 3 coach.

But the Class 769 train has been well received, as other orders have been forthcoming.

Surely, the planners could see the demand for this one coming, so where is the four-car suburban bi-mode?

Northern have ordered eight of these bi-mode and it will be interesting to see how they are used.

If nothing else, the Class 769 train has already proved that there is a need for a quality four-car bi-mode train.

Bi-Mode Trains And Bottlenecks

I would assume that the Ordsall Chord has a modern signalling system and that the number of trains that could use the chord could be as high as sixteen trains per hour, which is the current capacity of the Thames Tunnel on the East London Line.

The chord may be able to handle all the trains, which would allow services on both sides of Manchester to be run Crossrail-style as back-to-back services.

As a simple example perhaps Manchester to Buxton and Manchester to Clitheroe could be combined into a Buxton to Clitheroe service run by Class 319 Flex trains, which uses electricity from Hazel Grove to Bolton and diesel engines to climb to the two end stations.

Routes like this will surely release much-needed platform space in Manchester Piccadilly station.

But the two island platforms at Manchester Piccadilly will be a bottleneck.

I can see this happening across the Pennines at other stations.

Bi-mode trains will provide the train capacity, but are the stations up to it?

The Long Term Solution

Class 769 trains are not a long term solution. In my view they are a superb development solution.

If we assume that electrification is ruled out for the near future, this will inevitably lead to more bi-mode trains.

Purists will say no, as they will want electrification and nothing less.

But then we have no experience of a modern bi-mode train.

The first bi-mode to come into service will probably be a Class 800 train built by Hitachi.

In Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?, I answered the question I posed and I now believe that these trains can store energy.

So will the bi-mode of the future not be an electric train with an onboard diesel engine, but a sophisticated design, that can obtain its motive power from multiple sources, thus reducing noise, vibration and carbon footprint?

There are at least two other companies who will join this fight.

  • CAF have lots of orders with both Northern and TransPennine Express and they will not want to lose them. So I think it is reasonable to expect something radical from the Spanish company with a proven record in innovation.
  • Bombardier have designed the Aventra to have onboard energy storage and I would be very surprised if they haven’t thought about how to squeeze in a small diesel generator.

Will Alstom, Stadler and Siemens sit idly by, whilst other companies carve up the UK market? I doubt it.

The new bi-mode trains will provide the capacity, but other things must be done.

  • Stations must be improved to cater for the extra passengers.
  • Track and signalling must be improved to allow higher speeds.
  • As electrification was done on the cheap in the past, there are some lengths of electrification, that must be done.
  • HS2 must go on at full speed.
  • Ticketing must be made as easy as London and the South East.
  • Planning of a High Speed line across the North should be seriously started.

It will be interesting to see what develops.

Conclusion

I would spend the money on new trains, better stations and improving the passenger experience.

Electrification would come later, when there is a proven need.

But I wouldn’t rule out the train-makers creating a wholly different game.

 

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 4 Comments

A New Name For The Ordsall Chord

I must admit that as a Londoner and someone, who doesn’t know Manchester well, Ordsall Chord doesn’t have a name that suggests Manchester, its history and the many good things about the City.

After the tragic event of last week, surely, the locally-built massive steel bridge across the Irwell, should be dedicated to those who died and were hurt and given a name to reflect on Manchester’s past and present.

I would suggest something simple like the Mancunian Chord.

 

May 29, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 5 Comments

Metro Development With Flex Trains

The June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways gave a few more details of the Class 319 Flex trains, that are being created for Northern.

  • The trains now have their own TOPS-number of 769, which must be a seal of approval.
  • Northern have ordered eight Class 319 Flex trains as part of or in addition to a fleet of thirty-two Class 319 trains.
  • These eight trains will be delivered by the end of May 2018.
  • A Class 319 Flex train can be produced every two weeks.

It is also likely, that by the end of this year, Network Rail will have completed the following.

  • The Ordsall Chord connecting Manchester Victoria and Piccadilly stations.
  • Electrification between Manchester and Preston.
  • Electrification from Preston to Blackpool North station.
  • Electrification from Manchester Victoria to Stalybridge.

This will mean electric trains like the Class 319 train and bi-mode trains like the Class 319 Flex train, can go between Hazel Grove, Manchester Airport and Stockport to Blackpool North, Liverpool Lime Street, Manchester Victoria, Preston and Wigan North Western.

The Class 319 Flex trains using their diesel power will also be able to extend the electric network to Blackburn, Blackpool South, Burnley Manchester Road, Clitheroe, Southport, Stalybridge, Wigan Wallgate and Windermere, without any additional electrification.

There will be benefits for passengers.

  • The Class 319 trains and Class 319 Flex trains will be faster and journey times will be shorter.
  • Services run by elderly two-car trains will now be run by refurbished four-car trains.
  • Most journeys across Manchester will be continuous or with a single same-platform change at a convenient station.

How will various routes be affected?

Cross-Manchester Travel

Cross-City lines revolutionise city travel and the Ordsall Chord will do the same for Manchester.

This map from Wikipedia shows the location of the Ordsall Chord and how it is connected to exotic places like  Bolton, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester Airport, Stockport and Warrington.

Mancunians will have to learn how to use the link, but they won’t take long to do that!

You may be lucky and your journey will be available from your local station.

But if it requires a change, you will probably take a train to the central core stations of Victoria, Deansgate, Oxford Road or Piccadilly and change for your ultimate destination.

  • For many changes, you will just get off one train, wait on the platform for a few minutes and then board another train.
  • Some stations will be better interchanges than others.
  • Platforms 13 and 14 at Piccadilly may be crowded, but they are at least an island platform allowing a change of direction.
  • Platforms at Deansgate and Oxford Road may need widening.
  • Other stations like Salford Crescent and Salford Central will also get used as interchanges.

If there is one problem with the Ordsall Chord, it is the name.

Perhaps it should be called the Mancunian Chord?

Collateral Benefits Of The Ordsall Chord

The nearest railway line in concept to the Ordsall Chord is probably Thameslink in London.

  • As Thameslink has developed, it has not only provided a high-capacity North-South route across London, but it has also taken the pressure from main line stations like London Bridge, St. Pancras and Victoria, by allowing travellers to change to their long distance trains further out.
  • Thmeslink has also been a major factor in improving services to Gatwick Airport.
  • Gatwick Airport is building on its position to be a major rail hub South of London.

Over the years Thameslink has developed and some think in a few years time, Thameslink will be at least, if not more important than Crossrail.

Two things will definitely happen, when the Ordsall Chord opens.

As with Thameslink in London, Northern and Southern routes into the Manchester, will be linked back-to-back, to free up platforms in terminal stations.

Frequencies and capacity on many routes will increase. Stations, that have had a two-car diesel train twice an hour since the days of steam ended, will find they get a four-car electric or bi-mode train at a doubled frequency.

But long-term the Ordsall Chord will have major effects.

  • Towns and areas like Blackburn, Blackpool, Burnley, Chester, Hudderfield, Kirkby, Southport, Warrington and Wigan will have frequent train services to and from the whole of Manchester City Centre and will benefit accordingly.
  • Increased frequencies to Leeds and Liverpool will be easier to arrange.
  • Many travellers going to and from Birmingham, London and the South will change at Stockport rather than Piccadilly.
  • Few trains will reverse direction in Piccadilly.
  • Just as Gatwick Airport has been envigorated by Thameslink, Manchester Airport will become a major rail hub.
  • Will Preston develop into Manchester’s hub station for travellers going North or to Scotland.
  • Access to the tourist areas of North Lancashire, the Peak District and Yorkshire will be improved.

The Ordsall Chord will have such major effects on Manchester, that I could see HS2 plans being changed.

Buxton To Manchester And Clitheroe To Manchester

I will treat these routes together, as I believe they are a natural fit, where back-to-back operation will be beeficial.

  • Both routes are uphill away from Manchester.
  • Both routes need better and faster trains.
  • Both routes need more capacity.
  • Class 319 Flex trains could work both routes without any infrastructure work.

Could Buxton to Clitheroe, with perhaps a two-hourly extension to Hellifield for the Settle and Carlisle Railway create a very valuable tourism asset for the North-West?

In Why Not Buxton To Hellifield?, I looked at the possibilities about running  a direct back-to-back service across Manchester.

I said this.

In some ways the interesting one is the round trip from Buxton to Clitheroe, which allowing ten minutes for each turnround at Clitheroe and Buxton means that the round trip is under four hours.

This means that an hourly Buxton to Clitheroe service would need four trains and two trains per hour would need eight trains.

As the routes to Blackburn and Clitheroe in the North and Hazel Grove and Buxton in the South are very busy, four-car Class 319 Flex trains will be very welcome.

Windermere

Improving the service to Windermere station on the Windermere Branch is a complex problem.

I have been doing some analysis in Is Electrification Of The Windermere Branch Line Really Necessary?

I came to this conclusion.

I think that updating Oxenholme station with a fourth platform and using more powerful trains, would allow the frequency of trains on the Windermere Branch to be increased to one train every thirty minutes.

No electrification of the branchwould be needed.

We will know the answer, when Northern run a Class 319 Flex train in trials to Windermere.

I will not speculate on the timetable, but I’m sure Northern know about how the ideal timetable should look.

Manchester Airport to Huddersfield Via Stalybridge

Electrification to Stalybridge station is running late.

But no matter, as Class 319 Flex trains could fill in for their electric sisters.

Further Routes To The Core

Because they are bi-mode trains, the limitations of which routes can be served using Class 319 Flex trains, will be limited more by the availability of trains than anything else.

Signalling and operational procedures through the core will need to be improved, but a twin-track railway like that can take a frequency of sixteen to twenty tph over the Irwell.

After all, the East London Line has handled those frequencies in a tunnel built by Brunel’s father in the mid-1800s since 2010.

Adding New Routes

I don’t know the rail lines in Manchester at all, but so long as the track and need is there, Class 319 Fle trains can serve any route.

In the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, they are reporting on a plan to reopen six miles of disused railway between Irlam in Salford and Timperley in Trafford.

From the visualisation in the magazine, it looks a spectacular railway, that could provide a direct route between the West of the City and Althincham, Stockport and Manchester Airport.

Adding More Trains

I feel that Manchester will need more trains in a couple of years.

But just as Liverpool found no trouble with funding new custom-built trains for their network, when the time comes for Manchester to increase the fleet size, the city shouldn’t have a problem! Brexit permitting!

At least, if the Ordsall Chord routes are successful, they will define the specification of the new trains.

The simplest plan would see some new four-car electric units added to the fleet to release Class 319 trains for conversion to more Class 319 Flex trains.

Some of these trains could be specially designed airport trains for connecting Manchester Airport to Blackpool, Huddersfield, Liverpool and other places.

At some time in the future, all of the Class 319 trains and Class 319 Flex trains will be replaced, but will they finally see the scrapyard or will they be sent to do missionary work in places like Aberdeen, Bristol, Derby, Exeter, Lincoln, Sheffield, Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle and other places.

Conclusion

The Class 319 Flex train may have been designed by Porterbrook and Northern to fill an enormous hole left by Network Rail’s non-performance on electrification, but like its famous predecessor, the InterCity 125 which filled the gap left by the non-performance of the Advanced Passenger Train, I feel it will set new standards in train travel. But this time on predominately urban rather than InterCity routes.

I also feel strongly, that te flexible methods being used in Manchester to develop the rail services could be used elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 29, 2017 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment

From Stockport Station To Liverpool Lime Street Station By Train

In a comment a friend said this about going by train from Stockport to Liverpool.

When we first moved here, there was no direct train to Liverpool, we had to go into Piccadilly, cross to Victoria and get a train to Liverpool. And before the trams that was a complete pain!

So how is it now?

Using National Rail Enquiries, I find that every hour there is a direct train from Stockport station to Liverpool South Parkway and Liverpool Lime Street stations at around twenty-five minutes past the hour, that takes a few minutes over the hour to get to Liverpool Lime Street.

They seem to be run by East Midlands Trains, so they will be a Class 158 train, which is fine.

If say you were to drive to Manchester Airport first, you can get a refurbished electric train, that takes virtually the same time to Liverpool.

Stockport To Manchester Airport

Until I wrote this, I hadn’t realised that Airport trains don’t go via Stockport, but they use the Styal Line that by-passes Stockport.

Looking at maps of the area, it would appear that there might be a way of trains going from Manchester to the Airport via Stockport.

Trains might take the Mid-Cheshire Line and then access the Styal Line at a new junction North of Gatley station.

This Google Map shows the area where the railway lines cross.

Gatley station is at the South-West corner of the map and the Styal Line runs Northwards past the motorway junction between the M60 and the A34.

The Mid-Cheshire Line runs across the map South of the motorway junction and the Alexandra Hospital.

I suppose the cost was too high, but then how do you put all the travellers’ cars on the train?

The fact that the rail link between Stockport and Manchester Airport wasn’t created at the same time as the motorway junction is a design crime of the highest order.

It looks to me that there is even space for a Park-and-Ride for Stockport and Manchester in the area.

The Ordsall Chord

The Ordsall Chord, will link Manchester Victoria and Piccadilly stations with a huge bridge across the Irwell, before the end of 2017

It will have four trains per hour (tph) in both directions, between Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Oxford Road, Deansgate, Salford Central and Manchester Victoria stations. There is probably capacity for this service to go to eight tph,

Initially, trains will be refurbished four-car Class 319 electric trains, that currently work Liverpool to Manchester services.

These trains are no suburban trundlers, but will be able to cruise near to 100 mph on parts of the journey, thus knocking a few minutes off the time between Manchester Piccadlly and the Airport.

What Will The Ordsall Chord Do For Stockport?

I have to ask this question and until the timetables are published late this year, everything I say here will be speculation.

  • I would be very surprised if there wasn’t at least 1 electric tph that went to Manchester Victoria station.
  • Eventually, this service could be made more frequent and perhaps extended to Blackburn, Burnley, Huddsersfield or Stalybridge.
  • If Manchester Victoria has been designed right, there should be same-platform interchange at the station to TransPennine services to places like Hull, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  • I also suspect train companies will use the chord to provide new services like perhaps Chester to Leeds, that could go through Stockport.

Forget HS3 for the moment, this is the reality of 2017.

Liverpool to Manchester Airport

Several stations in Liverpool have an hourly service to Manchester Airport and this will probably get better as more Class 319 and Class 319 Flex Trains are brought into service.

It’s rather ironic, but from what I have found, that it would appear that Liverpool gets at least as good a service to Manchester Airport as does the much Stockport!

And Liverpool’s service is likely to double in frequency in the near future!

The Liverpool and Stockport services to Manchester Airport, do have one thing in common though! Both have  intermediate stops at Manchester Piccadilly!

But why would you want to go to Manchester Piccadilly, when you’re just going a few miles down the road? Especially, as if you’re going to Manchester Piccadilly, you already have in excess of four tph.

Leeds To Manchester Airport

Currently, Leeds to Manchester Airport has a two tph service via Huddersfield.

When the Ordsall Chord opens that Leeds to Manchester services will go to a higher frequency via Manchester Victoria, thus improving the service to the Airport from Leeds, by giving Leeds passengers access to Manchester local tram and train services to the Airport.

Conclusions

Services from Stockport through Manchester will improve, due to the opening of the Ordsall hord and other electrification works.

But, Stockport needs a quick non-stop service to the Airport with a frequency of at least two tph for economic prosperity.

Perhaps to get a good service to Manchester Airport, your city must begin with L or M.

 

March 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 2 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