The Anonymous Widower

The Inland Freeport On The Banks Of The Manchester Ship Canal

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

These are the opening paragraphs.

Businesses on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal could benefit from tax reliefs, a reduction in red tape and increased investment with Freeport status.

Port Salford, an inland port in Eccles which opened in 2016, will be part of the Liverpool City Region’s new Freeport announced in the budget on Wednesday.

Up to 10,000 jobs could be created at the site in Salford where a further 320,000 sq m of employment space is planned alongside a new rail link – but the developer behind the scheme says its success does not depend on its Freeport status.

It looks from this that freeport status is not needed for the development at Port Salford to go ahead.

March 8, 2021 Posted by | Transport, World | , , | Leave a comment

Manchester Metrolink’s New £350 Million Trafford Park Line To Open In April

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

The Wikipedia entry for the Trafford Park Line, says this about the planned opening.

The final stretch of track was laid November 2019, with the first test trams running soon after. In December 2019 it was announced that the line was expected to be opened in April 2020, seven months earlier than originally planned.

I wonder why, the line is opening early.

It would be interesting to know!

It could be the old chestnut of bad planning, with planners putting in a lot of float, so they are not late.

The Junction At Pomona Station

This Google Map shows the junction at Pomona, where the Trafford Park Line leaves the Eccles Line.

I don’t know when the picture was taken, but you can clearly see tracks going West.

Wharfside Tram Stop

This Google Mapshows the Wharfside tram stop.

It does look like there are only a few more tracks to lay.

The Trafford Park Line And The Imperial War Museum North

This Google Map shows the Trafford Park Line threading its way past the IWM North.

The works seem mainly complete.

The Terminus At The Trafford Centre

This Google Map shows the Trafford Centre.

The tram stop will be in the North East of the Centre.

This enlargement shows ithe tram stop more clearly.

Note that the tracks will be extended to the North-West to Port Salford on the other side of the Mancvhester Ship Canal.

Tram Services On The Trafford Park Line

Trams will run between the Trafford Centre and Crumpsall on the Bury Line.

  • Crumpsall has been updated with a third platform.
  • Trams will call at Deansgate-Castlefield, St. Peter’s Square, Piccadilly Gardens, Market Street, Stutenhill and Manchester Victoria station in the City Centre.
  • At present there appear to be no plans to connect the Trafford Centre with Manchester Piccsadilly station.

It looks to be that some passengers will change in the City Centre to get to and from the Trafford Centre.

December 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Tram-Trains To Hale Station

In Manchester Metrolink Extensions In A Sentence, I quoted this sentence from the Manchester Evening News.

It includes tram extensions to Port Salford, Middleton and Stalybridge, plus ‘tram trains’ to Hale, Warrington, Gorton and Glossop.

How would tram-trains from Hale join the current Metrolink network?

Hale Station

Hale station, is located in a busy and important village, in the middle of Cheshire’s footballer suburb, if you believe the tabloids.

The station has some problems.

  • The station needs a refurbishment.
  • The station needs step-free access.
  • The level crossing needs removing.

But the biggest problem is that there is only an hourly service serving the station, that runs between Manchester Piccadilly and Chester stations. To make matters worse the train is only two cars. My train was a Pacer, as the pictures show.

Onward To Knutsford, Northwich, Middlewich and Sandbach

In Business Case Requested For Middlewich Reopening, I looked at the opening of Middlewich station on the Northwich to Sandbach Line, which is just a dozen miles to the West of Hale station.

I’m certain in other parts of the UK, like East London, Nottingham and East Lancashire, that the provision of a train service between Middlewich and Manchester would be heavily patronised.

Or is it that the people in Cheshire too posh to use trains?

The Wikipedia entry for Middlewich station, says this about the initial service, when the station opened. in 1868.

The basic train service for passengers was from Crewe via Sandbach to Middlewich and Northwich. Some trains reversed at Northwich and then continued to Hartford and Greenbank and then along a short stretch of the West Coast Main Line (WCML) to Acton Bridge.

If the Northwich and Sandbach Line is ever reopened, surely one possibility for a train service is between Crewe and Manchester via Sandbach, Middlewich, Northwich, Hale and Altrincham.

  • Such a service would allow passengers between Althincham and Sandbach to have a handy connection to Crewe with its famed connectivity.
  • It would be a very useful commuter service to and from Manchester.
  • If it had a frequency of two trains per hour (tph) it would give a substantial increase to train services between Northwich and Altrincham.
  • It could possibly ease the overcrowding on the Styal Line.

By 2030, it would even provide a link to High Speed Two at Crewe, in addition to the connection in Manchester.

The Class 399 Train-Train

The Class 399 tram-train is a cross between a tram and a train.

  • They are members of the Stadler Citylink family of tram-trains.
  • In the UK, they are already running successfully between the centre of Sheffield and Rotherham Parkgate Shopping Centre.
  • In Sheffield, they work as trams and drivers have told me, they are powerful trams, that cope with Sheffield’s hills extremely well.
  • The tram-trains have step-free access between tram-train and platform.
  • On the National Rail lines to Rotherham, they cruise happily at 100 kph, which is almost as fast as a Class 156 train.
  • They can run on both 25 KVAC and 750 VDC overhead electrification.
  • Trains for Wales have ordered thirty six similar Class 398 tram-trains, that can run on battery power, where electrification has not been erected.

This is one of Sheffield’s Class 399 tram-trains at Rotherham Parkgate.

Note the step-free access.

They are a very versatile tram or train, depending on where they are running.

I would suspect the following will happen in the next few years.

  • Sheffield are planning to replace their ageing tram fleet and they will look seriously at more Class 399 tram-trains, as they perform well as trams and the region needs more tram-trains.
  • Manchester have stated that they are looking seriously at tram-trains and Class 399 tram-trains will surely be considered.
  • Other tram networks are looking at tram-trains and they won’t ignore the Class 399 tram-train.

I feel we can expect to see more of these tram-trains in the UK.

Manchester Metrolink Needs More Trams

Manchester Metrolink will need more trams in the next few years and I wouldn’t be surprised that the new ones have a tram-train capability.

Testing Tram-Trains On The Manchester Metrolink

On the Sheffield Supertram, the new tram-trains were first tested as trams on the existing network.

This approach could be taken on the Manchester Metrolink, to both full test the tram-trains and train the staff.

Improving Navigation Road

Navigation Road station has two platforms, one of which is used for the Metrolink and the other for National Rail.

The station could be configured, so that the Western platform would be for Northbound services and the Eastern platform would be for all Southbound services.

There would be two pairs of tracks leading away from the Northern end of the station; one pair for Metrolink services and the other for National Rail services.

The current two pairs of tracks South of Navigation Road station would be used as follows.

  • The Western pair would be for any Metrolink tram services terminating in Altrincham station.
  • The Eastern pair would be for National Rail services and Metrolink tram-train services going beyond Altrincham station.

Tram-trains running past Altrincham station, would either need the tracks to be electrified or the tram-trains to be fitted with batteries.

Possible Tram-Train Routes To Hale

These are possible routes.

A Metrolink Extension From Altrincham

This is the simplest option, where tram-trains would replace some or all of the service on the Atrincham and Bury and Altrincham and Piccadilly Metrolink services.

The tram-trains would use new electrification or onboard batteries South of Navigation Road.

A Northward Extension From Manchester Victoria Station

In Could A Class 399 Tram-Train With Batteries Go Between Manchester Victoria And Rochdale/Bury Bolton Street/Rawtenstall Stations?, I looked at the possibilities of a Northward extension of the Metrolink,  using tram-trains, that had been suggested by an article in the February 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

I have included it here, as it would be a good destination for a cross-city tram-train service, that started at Hale.

A Southward Extension From Altrincham To Middlewich

If the Sandbach and Northwich Line were to be reopened to traffic with a station at Middlewich, this would be a possible Southern terminus for the route.

The distance would probably be too far for battery operation, so there would be a need to electrify the extension using either 25 KVAC main line or 750 VDC tramway electrification.

As the route has been used by Virgin’s Euston and Chester services as a diversion route, and the Crewe and Chester Line has a high priority for electrification, there is a chance that lines in the area will be electrified.

This could mean the tram-trains could easily run from Altrincham as far as Crewe, as the route could be fully electrified.

Tram-Train Between Manchester Piccadilly and Hale Via Stockport

On the route between Manchester Piccadilly and Hale station via Stockport, there are only two stations between Stockport and Hale station; Navigation Road and Altrincham.

Would it be feasible or worthwhile to convert this route into tram-train operation by perhaps adding 750 VDC overhead electrification?

  • There is typically one or two freight trains and one Chester and Manchester Piccadilly service in each direction in every hour, so two tram-trains per hour in each direction should be possible.
  • Stops could be added at convenient places.
  • Between Stockport and Manchester Piccadilly stations, the existing 25 KVAC electrification would be used.

It would not be the largest project.

The Refurbishment Of Hale Station

Hale station needs a refurbishment and a step-free 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 Hale station?

This Google Map shows Hale station.

I think a new bridge could be installed at the Northern end of the station, if it were to be decided that the current one couldn’t be fitted with lifts.

The Electrification And Bi-Mode Alternative

As I said earlier the Crewe and Chester Line could be electrified, which would enable electric trains to run between London and Chester.

However, since the award of the West Coast Partnership to First Trenitalia, I now think it is unlikely the Crewe and Chester Line will be electrified in the near future, as new bi-mode trains will be ordered for North Wales services.

But I don’t reject the notion, that Northern will run bi-mode Class 769 trains between Manchester Piccadilly and Chester.

These trains could use the electrification between Stockport and Manchester Piccadilly stations.

Conclusion

These are my conclusions.

  • Tram-trains can deliver a capacity improvement through Navigation Road station.
  • Tram-trains could be extensively tested on the existing Manchester Metrolink network.
  • Tram-trains could be used to build a simple extension to Hale station from Altrincham.
  • The Manchester and Chester service via Stockport, Navigation Road and Altrincham stations could be run by tram-trains.

A comprehensive network of tram-trains could be developed between, through and beyond Altrincham, Crewe and Chester.

 

 

 

August 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Could Platforms 1 And 2 At Manchester Piccadilly Station Become A Tram-Train Terminal?

Tram-trains often pass through a city in the following manner.

  • They arrive in the city as trains and take to the tram system.
  • They use the tram system to go through the city centre,
  • At the other side of the city, they take to the rail lines and go to the final destination.

I took this picture in the main square in Kassel in Germany.

A continuous stream of trams and tram-trains pass through going across the city.

Isn’t it just like Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester? except that at present, they’re all trams on the Manchester Metrolink!

In Manchester Metrolink Extensions In A Sentence, I gave this quote from the Manchester Evening News.

It includes tram extensions to Port Salford, Middleton and Stalybridge, plus ‘tram trains’ to Hale, Warrington, Gorton and Glossop.

Currently, services to Hale, Gorton, Glossop and other places like Guide Bridge, Marple and New Mills Central come into low-numbered platforms in Manchester Piccadilly station.

The original plans for High Speed Two were rather unimaginative and probably very expensive, envisaged four High Speed platforms on the Northern side of the station.

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, I analyse the latest thinking on High Speed Two and I believe there is a chance, that Manchester Piccadilly will have underground through platforms deep underneath the current station.

These pictures show platforms 1 and 2 at Piccadilly station.

Currently, several of the lines that terminate in these two platforms are run by life-expired Pacers and they will be replaced by Class 195 trains.

But, as the quoted sentence shows, some of the routes into these platforms could be turned over to tram-train operation.

In Manchester Metrolink To Gorton And Glossop, I showed how it might be possible to connect the tram stop under Piccadilly station to the Glossop Line.

On the other hand the tram-trains might be able to run into these two platforms.

Conclusion

If Manchester acquires a few tram-trains, their rail and tram networks would appear to have lots of opportunities to use them efficiently.

It does also look, that it would be very advantageous, if the High Speed platforms could be through platforms underneath the main station.

  • Two well-designed through platforms would be able to handle a lot of trains and passengers.
  • The station could be refurbished, rather than demolished and rebuilt.
  • Fewer new platforms would be needed.

But above all updating the station would have a lower cost and would cause less disruption to all users.

 

 

 

August 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Manchester Metrolink To Gorton And Glossop

The Wikipedia entry for the Manchester Metrolink doesn’t say much about  Glossop, except that one of the original lines would have taken over the Glossop Line to Gorton, Glossop and Hadfield stations.

In Manchester Metrolink Extensions In A Sentence, I quoted this sentence from the Manchester Evening News.

It includes tram extensions to Port Salford, Middleton and Stalybridge, plus ‘tram trains’ to Hale, Warrington, Gorton and Glossop.

How would tram-trains from Gorton and Glossop join the current Metrolink network at Piccadilly station?

Consider.

  • Glossop Line trains use the low-numbered platforms on the Northern side of Manchester Piccadilly station.
  • Some plans have shown High Speed Two platforms on the save side of Piccadilly station.

Look at this Google Map of the Northern side of the station.

Note.

  1. Two trams crossing the green space to the North of the station.
  2. The area between the tram lines and the tracks going into Piccadilly station, appears to be mainly car parking and low-grade buildings.
  3. The tracks leading to Gorton and Glossop are on the Northern side of Piccadilly station.

These are a few pictures of the area.to the North of the station.

I feel it would be very feasible for tram-trains to connect the Glossop Line and the tram station underneath the main station.

In fact there would be no reason, why tram-trains shouldn’t continue to serve Manchester Piccadilly train station.

High Speed Two

High Speed Two’s terminals in Manchester is in a state of foux at the moment, so it might be preferable to just replace all Glossop Line services with tram-trains and use Manchester Piccadilly tram station.

Updating The Glossop Line

The Glossop Line is electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires, which looks to be one of the systems in worst condition in the UK along with the Crouch Valley Line in Essex.

It would probably need replacing, as the rust weevils holding it up, must be getting very tired.

To say that some stations look like they’ve seen better times, is an understatement.

Class 399 Tram-Trains For Manchester

Transport for Greater Manchester are serious about tram-trains and I believe that their usefullness to the City could be explored by running the existing service between Manchester Piccadilly and Glossop using a small fleet.

Conclusion

Extending the Manchester Metrolink to Gorton and Glossop using tram-trains appears to be very feasible.

In my view, it would have made a good trial route to prove the concept of tram-trains in the UK.

 

July 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 11 Comments

Manchester Metrolink Extensions In A Sentence

This article on the Manchester Evening News, sums up the extensions to the Manchester Metrolink like this.

It includes tram extensions to Port Salford, Middleton and Stalybridge, plus ‘tram trains’ to Hale, Warrington, Gorton and Glossop.

We all need more pithy sentences like this. Me included!

July 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Work Starts On Extending Manchester Metrolink To The Trafford Centre

This article on the BBC gives some more details.

The Manchester Metrolink seems to be expanding fast and the Trafford Park Line would appear to be planned to be open by 2020. The BBC says this.

The line is expected to open in 2020, increasing the size of the Metrolink network to more than 106.5km (66 miles).

The Trafford Park line will call at six new tram stops – Wharfside, Imperial War Museum, Village, Parkway, EventCity and the Trafford Centre.

There is no word about continuing the expansion to Port Salford. But then there’s no news about sorting out the bridge over the Irwell, that the contractors dropped.

January 14, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 4 Comments

Manchester Metrolink Will Be Going To The Trafford Centre

According to this article on Global Rail News, the Manchester Metrolink has been given permission and funding to build the Trafford Park Line.

This is a map of the line.

Trafford Park Line

Trafford Park Line

It calls at these stops.

Pomona

This Google Map shows Pomona tram stop.

Pmona Tram Stop

Pmona Tram Stop

The stop is at the far right and the rightmost bridge carries the tram over the water.

This second Google Map shows Note how the stop has been built to allow a junction with the Trafford Park Line.

Pomona Tram Stop In Detail

Pomona Tram Stop In Detail

The Trafford Park Line appears to continue along the edge of the water.

Wharfside

This Google Map shopws the location of the Wharfside tram stop close to Old Trafford.

Wharfside Tram Stop

Wharfside Tram Stop

It is on Trafford Park Road, probably between the water and the Premier Inn.

Note Old Trafford in the bottom-left corner.

Imperial War Museum

ThisGoogle Map shows the route between Wharfside and the Imperial War Museum tram stop.

Imperial War Museum Tram Stop

Imperial War Museum Tram Stop

The stop appears to be on Trafford Park Road, by the footbridge at the top of the map..

Village

This Google Map shows the route between the Imperial War Museum and the Village tram stop.

Village Tram Stop

Village Tram Stop

The Imperial War Museum is at the top of the map and the Village tram stop will be on the road leading .West from the rpundabout at the bottom.

Parkway

This Google Map shows the route between Village and the Parkway tram stop.

Parkway Tram Stop

Parkway Tram Stop

The Parkway stop is in towards the Southern side of Parkway Circle, which is the circle at the top towards the left.

Village tram stop is to the West of the other circle and the tram line goes along Village Way to Parkway Circle before going South West.

A Park-and-Ride could be built at this stop.

EventCity

This Google Map shows the route from Parkway to the Trafford Centre.

From Parkway To The Trafford Centre

From Parkway To The Trafford Centre

The EventCity tram stop is I suspect by EventCity, which is the big building in the centre of the map.

Trafford Centre

Finally, according to current plans the tram goes on to the Trafford Centre stop.

On To Trafford Waters

This article in the Manchester Evening News is entitled Huge £1bn Trafford Waters development on banks of Manchester Ship Canal given go-ahead.

This Google Map includes Trafford Waters, which is between the Trafford Centre and Manchester Ship Canal.

Trafford Waters

Trafford Waters

According to Wikipedia there will be a Trafford quays tram stop, to serve the new development.

Finally To Salford Reds And Port Salford

These two final tram stops; Salford Reds and Port Salford are named on Wikipedia..

This Google Map shows the location of these two stops.

Salford Reds And Port Salford Tram Stops

Salford Reds And Port Salford Tram Stops

Salford Reds is on the North Bank of the Manchester Ship Canal, to the West of the M6 Motorway.

Fort Salford is a freight terminal on the banks of the canal.

This is said on the FAQ page of Port Salford web site in answer to the question What are the plans to bring Metrolink to Port Salford?

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) who manage the Metrolink infrastructure, aspire to build a new Metrolink line to the AJ Bell stadium and potentially beyond to Port Salford, via Trafford Park and Trafford Centre. Therefore, the new dual carriageway and lift-bridge have been future proofed to eventually accommodate a Metrolink tram line.

That certainly gives one way for the Trafford Park Line to cross the Manchester Ship Canal.

Western Gateway Infrastructure Scheme

The Western Gateway Infrastructure Scheme is designed to bring better connectivity between Port Salford on the North side of the Manchester Ship Canal and Trafford and Trafford Park on the other side. Wikpedia says this.

As part of the Western Gateway Infrastructure Scheme (WGIS), a new link road was constructed in connection with the Port. The existing A57 road was redirected closer to the Salford City Stadium, and a mile-long new dual carriageway link to Trafford Way and a new lift bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal was constructed to the east of the M60 bridge.

This video shows more.

But all is not going well as this report from the Manchester Evening News shows.

 

Conclusions

These are my thoughts on what has been published.

  • There is a lot of development going on along the Manchester Ship Canal.
  • There will probably have to be at least one tram crossing of the Manchester Ship Canal between Trafford Centre and Port Salford.
  • The design of the tram route hasn’t be finalised yet and changes can be expected.

I am also surprised that the rail link from the North into Port Salford doesn’t include a rail station.

This would allow travellers from the West to have access to the Trafford Park Line, without going all the way to Manchester Piccadilly.

If you look around the UK and Europe, it is probably important that there is a good interface between the tram network and trains, cars and bicycles.

Manchester Metrolink has some good interchanges to rail, but it needs more.

For completeness this Google Map shows Trafford Park from Port Salford in the West to Pomona in the East.

pomonaportsalford

The waterway curving across the map is the Manchester Ship Canal.

Both Port Salford and Pomona are at the edges of the map.

 

It’ll be interesting to see how this project develops.

Developments on the Trafford Park Line can now be followed on the line’s own Wikipedia entry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 19, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 7 Comments