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.
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.
In the Proposed Systems section for the United Kingdom in the Wikipedia entry for tram-trains, there is a reference to tram-trains being proposed for Manchester to Marple.
I have also found this report on the Stockport Council web site, which is entitled Stockport Rail Strategy. The strategy has been developed by respected engineers; WSAtkins.
Search the report for tram-train and you get 35 hits, including references to Manchester to Marple.
The report also has this helpful map of tram-train routes in the Stockport area.
Possible Stockport Tram-Train Routes
I’ll look at some of the routes.
Manchester to Marple
Note that Manchester to Marple is given the highest priority of 1.
In Section 5.5.1 of the report, this is said about the Manchester to Marple route.
Manchester – Marple Metrolink would replace local rail services on the Manchester – Marple via Bredbury line with a more frequent service that would access the heart of Manchester City Centre. A further benefit of the scheme is that it contributes to relieving platform capacity constraints to Manchester Piccadilly, since the scheme would enter Piccadilly via the Metrolink platforms.
It also says it won’t go through Stockport Town Centre.
As the map shows the Manchester to Marple route goes via Ashburys station, which is to the South of the Etihad Stadium.as this Google Map shows.
Ashburys And Etihad Stadium
Note Ardwick and Ashburys stations on the line used by trains between Manchester Piccadilly and Rose Hill Msrple Marple stations.
A second Google Map shows the Etihad Campus tram stop, surrounded by various stadia, centres and arenas.
Note in both maps there is a rail line that leaves the rail line to the west of Ashburys station and goes north to the west of Etihad Campus.
This is one route that could be used to get tram-trains into the Manchester Metrolink.
In the Wikipedia entry for Ashburys station, this route is also proposed.
Significant new infrastructure works would be required between Piccadilly and Ashburys station, known as ‘Piccadilly Link’. It would be incorporated within a major mixed-use development by Grangefield Estates, known as ‘Chancellor Place’, around the former Mayfield Station site.
It would appear that both routes have their advantages.
But surely, the Etihad route has these specific ones.
- ,It would only need a connection between the rail line and the tram line to Etihad Campus.
- It doesn’t rely on the ever-changing fortunes and minds of large property companies to deliver the infrastructure on the Mayfield Station site.
- The route would not interfere with the addition of the two new platforms proposed for Manchester Piccadilly.
- The trams end up under Piccadilly station from where they could continue to any number of destinations.
- Manchester to Marple services are removed from the crowded Piccadilly station.
- A station or tram stop could be provided to the west of the Etihad Stadium, if that was required.
- Delivery of the scheme would be down mainly to Manchester Metrolink, Network Rail and the various councils, with perhaps some input from the owners of the Etihad Campus.
On a rough analysis, I suspect that going the Etihad route would be more affordable and a lot easier to bring to fruition.
The WSAtlins report also suggests this for tram-trains between Manchester and Marple.
Stockport station could be served by using the Stockport to Stalybridge Line.
- A proposed service would be five trains per hour from Manchester City Centre to both Stockport and Rose Hill Marple.
- There would be a tram-train every six minutes on the busiest part of the route between Reddish North and Manchester.
- Other services between Manchester and Marple would go via Hyde.
Obviously, there are questions to be asked.
- The tram-trains get to Manchester City Centre, but where do they go from there?
- Could we see a tram and tram-train interchange in Piccadilly Gardens, just as I saw in the centre of Kassel and wrote about in The Trams And Tram-Trains Of Kassel?
- Could Manchester’s tram network be used by a Class 399 tram-train, as is being trialled in Sheffield?
I can understand why the Manchester to Marple route was offered as a place to do the tram-train trial!
It strikes me, that if the costs add up, then it would be a good proposal.
Stockport To Tameside
The WSAtlins report says this about a link from Stockport to Tameside.
A further possibility utilising the proposed section of Metrolink route between Stockport and Reddish would be a direct link from Stockport to Tameside, possibly terminating in Ashton Town Centre.
Note the following.
This Google Map shows Ashton Town Centre.
Ashton Town Centre
- The Stockport to Stalybridge Line at the bottom of the map.
- Park Parade is shown and I suspect Ashton Park Parade was in this area.
- Ashton-under-Lyne station at the top.
- Ashton-under-Lyne Metrolink station is in the top left of the map.
- Ashton-under-Lyne has a five trams per hour service to Manchester City Centre.
In my view, there are lots of possibilities to improve the transport links in Ashton Town Centre.
West of Stockport
The WSAtlins report discusses routes to the west of Stockport.
This group of routes would utilise the Stockport – Altrincham railway line west of Stockport Town Centre, which would be restored to a double-track formation with new stops being added in residential areas.
This Google Map shows Stockport station and Edgeley Junction.
Stockport Station And Edgley Junction
The Mid-Cheshire Line, that goes between Stockport and Altrincham goes off to the west, passing south of Abney Hall Park and the Buxton Line goes to the south east, with stations at Davenport and Woodsmoor being visible.
The report also says this.
A new section of Metrolink route would be created from Stockport Interchange to the start of the Stockport – Altrincham railway line immediately south of Edgeley Junction. That would include a new stop adjacent to Stockport Station, fulfilling a long-held aspiration to provide a direct public transport link between Stockport Station and Stockport Interchange.
This Google Map shows the location of Stockport Interchange with respect to Stockport station.
Stockport Bus AndTrain Stations
Stockport Interchange is between the railway and the A6 towards the top and Stockport station is towards the bottom.
I suspect that given the layout of the Town Centre and the various modes of transport to connect, that an innovative solution will be needed.
- Stockport Interchange and Stockport station are about four hundred metres apart.
- Stockport station is on the thirty-three metre high, Grade 2* Listed Stockport Viaduct.
- Tram-trains from Manchester will come and go to the North.
- There could be five tram-trains per hour to each of Ashton and Manchester City Centre.
- Tram-trains from the Mid-Cheshire Line will come and go to the South.
- Was the new Platform 0 built to make the station more suitable for tram-train services?
A good design probably won’t be easy.
One solution would be to cut Platforms 0 and 1 in half, with the Northern ends accepting tram-trains from the North and the Southern ones, those from the South.
The area in between the two halves could be made into a small courtyard with seats, a coffee stall and a kiosk, so passengers arriving from the North would just walk to the court and wait for the appropriate tram-train to the south and vice-versa.
The tram-train platforms would also have level step-free access to Platform 2 for the expresses going South through Stockport.
Stockport to Manchester Airport
The WSAtkins report has a lot to say about the value of this route.
The main driver for the Stockport – Airport route is the expected transformation of Manchester Airport and its surrounding area into a multi-purpose regional economic hub. That will require a step-change in the proportion of trips to/from the area using non-car modes. A high proportion of trips travel to the area is from distances greater than 8km, for which stopping bus services cannot usually provide an attractive alternative to car travel, even with ambitious bus priority measures. TfGM indicated that there are many trips to the Airport that currently originate in or near Stockport.
It also says this about the route.
The route to the Airport would be achieved by a new curve at Baguley linking the Stockport – Altrincham line with the planned Manchester Airport Western Loop Metrolink line. TfGM has indicated that it expects many trips accessing the Manchester Airport area would interchange onto Metrolink from bus and heavy rail in Stockport Town Centre. The route would also facilitate access from its residential catchment to the national rail network at Stockport Station and at the proposed HS2 Station near Manchester Airport.
This Google Map shows the area to the north of Baguley Metrolink station.
The Baguley Curve
The Stockport to Altrincham Line runs across the top and the scar down the middle is now the Airport Branch of the Manchester Metrolink.
Building a curve shows one of the useful advantages of tram-trains, which can turn tighter than a standard train.
The question has to be asked if tram-trains would run to the airport from both Althincham ans Stockport!
Stockport To Altrincham
The WSAtkins report has this to say about the route.
A Stockport – Altrincham service would connect residential areas on the Stockport – Altrincham corridor with both of their main local centres. The residential areas expected to benefit from new stops include Adswood, Cheadle Heath, Cheadle, and Gatley. The service would also improve the link between Altrincham and Stockport and its onward inter-urban rail connections.
I would assume that as nothing is menbtioned about the terminus at Althincham, this is not considered to have any issues.
Stockport To East Didsbury
Plans for this route have existed since the late 1990s. But following a southern raoute, rather than one along the Mersey could offer cost savings. The WSAtkins report has this to say about the new route.
This southern route from Stockport to East Didsbury would join the Hazel Grove to Sharston freight line via a new junction at Cheadle Heath, and then cross the River Mersey via a new alignment to East Didsbury. This has the potential to provide a new stop at Gorsey Bank, providing sustainable transport access to the proposed new development site. This route would provide Metrolink services to Manchester City Centre from the Edgeley and Adswood areas, and would provide much-improved connections from Stockport to Didsbury, Chorlton and Salford Quays and Trafford Park.
This Google Map shows the routes of the Stockport to Altrincham Line, the freight line from Hazel Grove to Sharston, the M60 Motporway and the River Mersey in the west of Stockport.
Stockport To East Didsbury
Stockport Station and Edgeley Junction in the East.
The Stockport to Altrincham Line runs horizontally across the map.
The freight line crosses the motorway, just to the right of the blue M60 label.
Towards A Circular Metrolink
The WSAtkins report says this.
With both the Manchester – Belle Vue – Marple/ Stockport and Stockport West routes built, a Manchester – Belle Vue – Stockport – Airport service could operate. This route would combine radial and orbital elements and could potentially be developed in the longer term into a more extensive orbital Metrolink system, for example by extending northwards beyond Reddish to Ashton-under-Lyne.
I suspect Manchester feels rather pleased that all those old railway lines across and around the city, weren’t dug up for housing and motorways.
Hazel Grove to East Didsbury
The WSAtkins report says this about running tram-trains betwen Hazel Grove station and East Didsbury Metrolink station.
The Hazel Grove to East Didsbury tram-train route would form an extension to the Manchester to East Didsbury Metrolink line, and would result in a Manchester – Hazel Grove Metrolink service.
It would utilise the following rail/ Metrolink lines.
- New Metrolink line from East Didsbury to Gorsey Bank, crossing the river Mersey to join the rail (presently freight only) line at a point north of the M60.
- Existing rail (presently freight only Sharston to Hazel Grove line) redoubled from Gorsey Bank to Hazel Grove.
The report also says this about the route.
It is envisaged that new stops would be provided at Gorsey Bank, Edgeley Lane, Davenport and Woodsmoor. The section of the scheme between East Didsbury and the existing Stockport-Altrincham rail line is identical to that proposed in the Stockport West group of routes, offering cost savings if both schemes were progressed. This service would not replace the existing heavy rail service but further work would be needed to define the appropriate mix of Metrolink and local rail services between Manchester and Hazel Grove.
So it looks like to create improved connectivity from East Didsbury can be delivered by tram-trains, some doubling of lines, electrification, signalling and devising a better timetable.
Tram-Trains Running On Manchester Metrolink
The WSAtkins report says this about possible constraints on running tram-trains on the Manchester Metrolink.
In Greater Manchester Metrolink has been developed by converting existing railway lines and disused rail alignments and building new on-street embedded rails. Metrolink therefore currently runs on a separate network to heavy rail, with an operating system managed on behalf of TfGM. The concept of a Metrolink type service utilising currently active heavy rail lines, which would continue to be used by trains as well as a Metrolink service, has been discussed for a number of years. This type of operation is referred to as ‘tramtrain’.
Tram-train is currently used in several locations in mainland Europe, and a pilot project in Sheffield was commissioned by the Department of Transport to consider the potential of adopting this approach in the United Kingdom. The pilot project is considering the technical issues but the actual running of a tram on a rail way has been delayed several times. The most recent timescale is to start running sometime in 2016.
The Greater Manchester Metrolink vehicles are of a different design to the Sheffield trams as they were designed to operate on converted heavy rail lines. As such, it is anticipated there may be fewer technical issues associated with tram-train operation in Greater Manchester. The outcome of the pilot is expected to influence the prospects for tram-train elsewhere in the UK.
I would hope that the Manchester Metrolink and the Sheffield Supertram, both decide to use the same tram-trains, as this would enable tram-trains to start in the centre of Sheffield and then run on the Hope Valley Line to Srockport and Manchester City Centre.
In my view, if the use of tram-trains happens in around Stockport, it would be a good thing for the area.
I would hope that the Manchester Metrolink and the Sheffield Supertram, both decide to use the same tram-train, as this would enable tram-trains to start in the centre of Sheffield and then run on the Hope Valley Line to Srockport and Manchester City Centre.
If the concept works and the tram-train tril is successful, Sheffield, Manchester and a lot of other places in the UK, are going to have tremendous fun with tram-trains.