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.
Elephant and Castle station couldn’t be called a well-preserved architectural gem.
But it certainly could be improved.
It looks like it’s another of those stations, where the arches could be opened up underneath the railway.
Today, it certainly was finished, as the pictures show.
It certainly is a good mix of Ancient (Actually 1836!) and Modern!
I suspect a few decades ago, British Rail used to despair at the number of brick arches and bridges they were responsible for.
Now, they have realised that they are an asset to exploit!
I took these pictures as I walked through London Bridge station to the Underground.
I do like well-executed brickwork! I hope they don’t cover it with plaster or concrete.
I certainly don’t think they’re finished yet! The lights are for light rather than to a design that fits.
This set of brick arches will form a level passageway between the inner concourse of the station and the exits towards the City and the Underground.
London Bridge looks like it could take the mantle of London’s best railway station from Kings Cross.
The viaduct is certainly substantial.
I find walking difficult in Manchester, as there are virtually no maps. In London there are walking maps everywhere; on bus stops, at tube and rail stations and free standing.
One of the strange things, is that in all the pictures I took on this walk, there is no evidence of Oxford Road station, which is between Piccadilly and Deansgate. There were so signs either.
Perhaps, it’s been knocked down, since I visited a few weeks ago?
Others would say that I should use the map on my phone, but that is not easy, as my left hand is dodgy and to use a phone, I prefer to lay it flat somewhere and use it with my right hand.
I still think that the reason London is so well-mapped, is that because it is so large, the average Londoner find themselves in a strange area quite often and need immediate help. But in smaller cities, the city is small enough for all the locals to memorise the city, so they object if sums of money are spent on maps.
The only other city in the UK with good maps is Glasgow, which in terms of area is the second largest.
With this walk from Piccadilly to Deansgate, I just followed the viaduct. But it wasn’t easy at times, as there were various dead-ends, too much unnecessary traffic and parked vehicles and difficult road crossings.
Perhaps Manchester needs some combined Cycling and Walking Superhighways! And perhaps a Congestion Charge, to discourage people from bringing cars into the centre, as it did in London.
I wonder if anybody, has done an analysis of the number of visitors and tourists a city gets against the usability of its public transport and walking routes. My personal scores out of five for various UK cities would be.
- Birmingham – 3
- Brighton – 4
- Bristol – 2
- Cardiff – 4
- Edinburgh – 3
- Glasgow – 4
- Leeds – 3
- Liverpool – 4
- Manchester – 2
- Newcastle – 3
- Nottingham – 4
- Sheffield – 3
This is all very personal, as obviously I know Liverpool well. But in fairness you can give brief instructions on how to spend a day or two in Liverpool, as the centre is extensively pedestrianised and this gives the visitor a linear focus on which to explore the City.
Brighton has the seafront and once you know how to get back to the station, on foot or by bus, it has this focus on which to base your visit.
Does Manchester City Centre have a linear focus?
Manchester doesn’t draw you in with a welcoming station, as do Liverpool, Sheffield or Newcastle, and I suspect, it doesn’t make the most of casual visitors passing through.
Clitheroe reminded me very much of a Lancashire version of several I know well in Suffolk.
From the new houses, that I saw in the area, I suspect it’s becoming more important as a dormitory town.
The later history of the Ribble Valley Line between Manchester Victoria and Hellifield via Bolton, Blackburn and Clitheroe, is one of closure and reopening.
- Blackburn to Hellifield was closed to passengers in 1962.
- The only train, other than freight and diversions, was a once a week train between Manchester and Glasgow, which stopped in 1964.
- Blackburn to Bolton was reduced to a single-track.
- Public pressure led to a service between Blackburn and Clitheroe in 1994.
- Later a Sunday service was started between Blackburn and Hellifield.
- The line became a community rail line in 2007.
In the last few years, Network Rail have spent millions of pounds on improvements.
- A five million scheme renewed the permanent way between Blackburn and Clitheroe in 2008.
- Sections of single track have been doubled.
- Signalling has been improved.
- Line speed has been increased.
- Platforms have been lengthened.
- The passing loop at Darwen has been lengthened.
Builders certainly seemed to have been at work on the stations between Clitheroe and Whalley.
It All Happens In 2017
All of this should mean that two trains per hour (tph), can run between Manchester Victoria and Clitheroe in December 2017.
A year later, in December 2018 there could be the extra two through platforms into use at Manchester Pioccadilly, which will help alleviate capacity problems.
I don’t think we’ll see direct services between Clitheroe and London, but an improved Ribble Valley Line connecting with Manchester’s new cross-city line can only be good for passengers.
Things that could or should happen include.
- Two tph between Manchester Victoria and Clitheroe has virtually been promised.
- The service will become faster because of track improvement and new trains in a few years. Applying a conservative estimate reduces the end-to-end journey time from seventy-five to somewhere around fifty minutes.
- The Manchester Victoria to Clitheroe service could probably run two tph each of four carriages by December 2018. It all depends on rolling stock deliveries.
- TransPennine services will go through Manchester Victoria and any sensible train planner would arrange a decent link between Clitheroe and TransPennine services.
It will certainly be a big improvement.
Manchester Airport And Clitheroe
One journey that illustrates how the Ordsall Chord will improve services, is getting between Clitheroe and Manchester Airport.
Currently, these are typical timings.
- Clitheroe to Manchester Victoria – 75 minutes
- |Cliteroe to Manchester Airport via Bolton – 126 minutes
- Salford Crescent to Manchester Victoria – 9 minutes
- Salford Crescent to Manchester Airport – 30 minutes
As Manchester Victoria to Manchester Airport, is effectively via Salford Crescent with the train taking a short cut, it’s probably reasonable to assume that Manchester Victoria to Manchester Airport won’t be more than 39 minutes.
Current services take about twenty minutes from Manchester Piccadilly, but it’s not a proper airport service, which the full route to Victoria could be.
- It doesn’t use the same platforms every time.
- The trains are not built for heavy luggage.
The service certainly doesn’t say Manchester is open for business.
Wikipedia says this about services to Manchester Airport after the Ordsall Chord opens.
On completion, it is anticipated that the chord would allow four trains per hour to travel between Manchester Airport/Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria in each direction, with a further eight trains per hour possible 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.
So this means that even if you just miss the connection at Manchester Victoria, you’d only wait a maximum of fifteen minutes for the next train to the Airport.
As I think we can reasonably assume that there will be a Clitheroe to Manchester Victoria time of around fifty minutes, this means that Clitheroe to the Airport could be about ninety minutes plus how long you wait at Victoria for the Airport train.
But I suspect there could be a better connection for Manchester Airport at Bolton.
If you opt for a route with only one change, then the journey takes a few minutes over two hours, often with a wait of thirty-five minutes, whilst trains are changed at Bolton.
- A route with only one change at Bolton, takes a few minutes over two hours, often with a wait of thirty-five minutes at the change.
- I wouldn’t be surprised to see Clitheroe to Manchester Airport in under ninety minutes via Bolton, with the current trains, after the Ordsall Chord is opened.
- But hopefully in |December 2017, Bolton to Manchester Airport will be served by 100 mph electric trains.
- December 2018 could bring the extra two through platforms into use at Manchester Pioccadilly.
Incidentally, various web sites, say it takes an hour to go by car.
I think it would be possible to have same- or cross-platform interchange between the following services.
- Clitheroe and Manchester Victoria.
- Preston and Manchester Piccadilly/Airport
- Preston and Manchester Victoria
- Wigan Wallgate and Manchester Piccadilly/Airport
This happens to a certain extent at Bolton already, as the Windsor Link Line allows trains to go direct from Bolton to Manchester Piccadilly and onto Manchester Airport.
If it could be arranged that the frequency between Bolton and Manchester Airport was 4 tph, then this would mean a maximum wait of fifteen minutes.
Currently, the frequency is a miserly 2 tph, which explains the long waits at Bolton.
I suspect that because even with the Ordsall Chord built, that Piccadilly with its completion date a year later could be the main bottleneck.
You could say run twelve-car semi-fast Class 319 trains from Preston to Manchester Airport,, but if Mancunians are anything like Londoners for ducking and diving, then this could just add to the congestion at Manchester Piccadilly.
It all shows the problems of how the adding of the two extra platforms 13 and 14 in the 1960s was not a project that had any degree of future proofing.
When I see those draded numbers 13 and 14 against my train to or from Manchester Piccadilly, I breathe a sigh and ask myself, why I came this way.
Trains always seem to be late through the platforms and sometimes, I feel the platforms aren’t the safest.
Onward From Clitheroe
At present the historic Settle route is closed after last winter’s storms, but Network Rail is spending £23million to bring it back into top condition.
With the new franchise saying it will run extra trains on this route, I feel that the Settle route will have a busy future.
Blackburn to Carlisle via Settle is certainly a trip I want to take.
You have to ask the following questions about the current services to Clitheroe
- When two tph are going from Manchester Victoria to Clitheroe, should one tph go on to Hellifield?
- Given rivalry across the Pennines, do loyal Lancastrains feel that Leeds has no right to services along the Settle route and some should start in the county of the red rose?
From what I saw of the Ribble Valley Line at Blackburn, Whalley and Clitheroe, the track and stations would certainly be up to the increased footfall.
All the line needs is modern trains.
Without doubt, the Ribble Valley Line is ready to take its place in that group of secondary and rural rail lines across the North, that will take be good for the locals and will attract tourists to the area.
I had time to waste, so I took a walk in a wide circle around Leeds station.
I went under the railways through the station and then walked along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal towards the West. I turned North and followed the Kirkstall Viaduct, that used to take the trains into Leeds Central station.
One of the problems of this walk in Leeds, is that you might like to go through the station. But it doesn’t seem to be encouraged.
This Google Map shows the area to the West of Battersea Power station, where the various lines go across the Thames into Victoria.
This image was taken a couple of years ago and the iconic gas-holders next to the power station and between the rail lines were still standing.
There is also a set of lines that come from the station and go under the Chatham Main Line before turning to the West towards Clapham Junction.
It certainly is a complicated layout of tracks and points.
This map from carto.metro.free.fr might make things a bit clearer.
Note on the map, there is a Battersea Park Road station on the Chatham Main Line. The new station wouldn’t surely be far from this position.
This set of images were taken on a train from a Clapham Junction to Victoria train show the Chatham Main Line, as it passes the power station and the Dogs Home.
- The new modern viaduct, where the Chatham Main Line crosses over the third set of lines.
- The massive area, where the gas-holders once stood.
- There is quite a space between the lines going through Battersea and the Chatham Main Lines,
- How the Dogs Home seems to be using any bit of space they can.
Although not a lover of the power station, the flats do seem to be hiding any decent view of the iconic building.
This is another set of images, which were taken coming in to Victoria on the Chatham Main Line.
Note that taken with the previous set of pictures, they certainly reinforce what I said there.
This third set of images show the other side of the Chatham Main Line going out from Victoria.
- There wouldn’t appear to be much space between the flats and the line, so the new Battersea station will probably be built further towards the South.
- If you look at these pictures carefully, you can see when the train is on the new concrete viaduct.
- It would appear that there are three tracks on the viaduct.
- The blue building is only shown as it puts a marker on the line.
If I was going to be pushed, I would suspect that a new station could be built fairly easily, that was linked by escalators and lifts to Battersea Power Station station.
I’ll leave the position and design to the architects and engineers.
But before I finish this post, look at this Google Map.
In the South-West corner, there is Battersea Park station.
Some think it an architectural gem, but I think, it’s a dump and a death-trap for anybody with any movement problems. This post entitled Battersea Park Station gives some more details.
In the North-East corner, you can just see Battersea Power Station.
The map of the lines earlier in this post, showed that the Northern Line Extension points at Battersea Park station, if the map is correct.
So could it be that now the gas-holders are cleared, that it would be possible to create a surface level walkway between all three stations.
- Battersea Power Station tube station on the Northern Line Extension.
- The proposed Battersea station on the Chatham Main Line into Victoria.
- Battersea Park station on the Brighton Main Line into Victoria.
It would certainly make things a lot easier for architects, construction companies, train operators and passengers.
It would probably just be called Battersea! Or Perhaps Cats and Dogs! Would it be the first station in the world named after a charity?
One point is that the remains of Battersea Park Road station are still tucked into the bridge, that takes the Chatham Main Line over Battersea Park Road.
As you often find in this country, the railway arches under the viaduct seem to be in very good condition.
A combined station would be a station with very good connectivity.
- There would be the Northern Line to Central London.
- There would be the Southern services that stop in the current Battersea Park station.
- There could be new Metro services going along the South London Line via Brixton, Denmark Hill and Packham Rye to London Bridge, Dalston Junction, Abbey Wood and Orpington.
One interesting possibility, is that a terminating platform could be provided at the station. Occasional services to Dalston Junction do already terminate at the station and perhaps if reorganised South London Line services were created. then Victoria And Battersea could share terminating duties, just as Dalston Junction and Highbury and Islington stations do at the Northern End of the East London Line.
The proposed tunnel under Brixton would start somewhere to the South of Battersea Park Road.
In the June 2016 Edition of Modern Railways, there was an article entitled Turning South London Orange.
One of the proposals in the article is to create an improved station at Brixton, by reopening disused platforms on the Northernmost tracks at the station.
This is a Google Map of the station.
- The Northernmost lines don’t have platforms.
- The Overground uses the Southernmost lines, which also don’t have platforms and soar high above everything else.
Centre for London’s proposal envisages platforms being added to the two Northern platforms and using them for the Overground.
This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines between Wandsworth Road and Brixton stations.
This map shows all the junctions between the lines, which probably means that running Overground trains on the Northern pair of tracks is probably possible.
If the only platforms where trains stop are the low-level ones in Brixton station, surely, it would be be much easier to link them to the Victoria Line.
These are some pictures of the station.
If it was being sold by legendary Estate Agent Roy Brooks, he would describe it as a building with potential.
The four low-level platforms are on solid Victorian railway arches and I suspect that a 3-D rendition of the station, would show it was possible to tunnel from the arches into the Victoria Line platforms, to give an escalator and lift connection.
It wasn’t done in the 1960s, when the Victoria Line was built or when the Overground was created, as in both cases, money was short and no-one believed that the two lines would be as successful as they are now!
But the more I look at the pictures and the maps, Centre for London’s idea of running the Overground on the Northern pair of tracks looks more feasible.
The related proposal of creating a tunnel under Brixton to remove the fast trains between Victoria and Kent, also helps, as it removes the fast trains from passing through Brixton station.