The Anonymous Widower

Possibly One Of The Best Underground Railways In A Smaller City In The World!

I took these pictures, as I took the Wirral Line between James Street and Lime Street stations.

I do compare them with the dingy inside of Essex Road station, which was refurbished by British Rail about the same time.

Merseyrail’s stations and trains are generally immaculate and that can’t be said for the dirty and tired infrastructure on the Northern City Line. As I indicated in the title of this post, t is one of the best underground railways under the centre of a smaller city. Liverpool would probably be regarded as a second size of city as it lacks the several millions of London, Paris or Berlin.

The tunnels of Merseyrail’s Northern and Wirral Lines, would have been probably been used as a model for British Rail’s proposed Picc-Vic Tunnel, that sadly never got to be built!

Manchester would be very different today, if it had an underground railway across the City to the standard of that in Liverpool or Newcastle.

This map clipped from Wikipedia show the proposed route of the Picc-Vic Tunnel.

Some of the other proposals included.

  • The tunnel would be twin bores and jus under three miles long.
  • The tunnel would be electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • The rolling stock would have been Class 316 trains, which would have been similar to those on Merseyrail.
  • Train frequency could have been forty trains per hour (tph)

In some ways the specification was more ambitious than Crossrail, which might be able to handle 30 tph, at some time in the future. But Dear Old Vicky, which was designed at the same time, is now handling forty tph.

Wikipedia says the following routes could have run through the tunnel.

Note.

  1. The Styal Line now provides the link to Manchester Airport.
  2. The route map on the Wikipedia entry, shows only Bury and Bolton as Northern destinations. But surely fanning out the trains could have run to Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Blackpool, Burnley, Clitheroe, Colne, Hebden Bridge, Kirkby, Preston, Rawtenstall, Tochdale, Southport, Stalybridge, Todmorden, Wigan and Windermere

The only problem, I could see would be that there would need to be a lot of electrification North of Manchester, some of which has now been done.

There have also been developments in recent years that would fit nicely with a system of lines running through the Picc-Vic Tunnel.

More Services In Manchester Piccadilly And Manchester Victoria Stations

If you look at Liverpool Lime Street station after the remodelling of the last few years, the station is now ready for High Speed Two.

You could argue, that it would be more ready, if the Wapping Tunnel connected services to and from the East to the Northern Line, as I wrote about in Liverpool’s Forgotten Tunnel, as this would remove a lot of local trains from the station.

The Picc-Vic Tunnel would have done the same thing for Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria stations and removed the local services.

This would have left more space for High Speed Two and other long distance services.

Northern Powerhouse Rail

The original plan also envisaged an East-West Tunnel at a later date. – Northern Powerhouse Rail?

But the creation of capacity by the diversion of local services from Manchester Victoria into the Picc-Vic Tunnel, would surely have enabled the station to be developed thirty years ago as a station on an improved TransPennine route.

Tram-Trains

The system would have accepted tram-trains, which hadn’t been invented in the 1970s.

Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport had only one runway in the 1970s and I think only a few would have believed, it would have expanded like it has.

The Picc-Vic Tunnel would create a superb service to the Airport, at a frequency upwards of six tph.

High Speed Two

The Picc-Vic Tunnel would have created the capacity in  for Manchester Piccadilly station and allowed High Speed Two services to use the station.

In The Rival Plans For Piccadilly Station, That Architects Say Will ‘Save Millions’, I talked about a radical plan for extending Manchester Piccadilly station for High Speed Two, that has been put forward by Weston Williamson; the architects.

This sort of scheme would also fit well with the Picc-Vic Tunnel.

Conclusion

Manchester was short-changed and not building the Picc-Vic Tunnel was a major mistake.

It would have created an underground railway in a similar mould to that of Liverpool’s, but it would probably have served a larger network.

They would probably be the best pair of underground railways for smaller cities in the world.

August 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Beeching Reversal – East Didsbury – Stockport

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

This project has been puzzling me.

Search Google for “East Didsbury and Stockport Rail Link” and all you find is grandiose plans for billion pound extensions to the Manchester Metrolink.

Having researched a lot of the proposed Beeching Reversal projects, it appears to me, that the ones likely to be built, will give a lot of benefit for millions, not billions of pounds.

I just wonder, if in this project, Manchester is stealing an idea from Birmingham – the four-poster station!

This Google Map shows Smethwick Galton Bridge station.

This extract from the Wikipedia entry, describes the station.

The station was opened in September 1995 as part of the Jewellery Line scheme to reopen the line between Smethwick and Birmingham Snow Hill station. It was built as an interchange station between two lines, and the platforms on both lines opened at the same time.

Note.

  1. The four lift towers with stairs, that connect the four platforms, have pyramid roofs.
  2. The station is fully step-free.
  3. The rail lines are at different levels.

These pictures show the station.

It is a very practical architectural idea and the world needs more four-poster stations to connect rail lines where they cross at different levels.

Could A Four-Poster Station Link East Didsbury And Stockport?

These are my thoughts.

The Location

This Google Map shows the general area, where the station could be built.

It is a spaghetti of motorways and rail lines with a lumpy sauce of new housing called Barnes Village in the middle.

Note, where the two rail lines cross in the South-West corner of the map.

This second Google Map, shows an enlarged image of the location, where the two rail lines cross.

Note.

  1. The Styal Line runs North-South.
  2. The line running East-West is the Mid-Cheshire Line between Altrincham and Stockport stations.

I suspect most travellers joining the rail network at this point, would walk or cycle in from nearby locations or turn up in a taxi.

The Styal Line

The Styal Line has the following characteristics.

  • It is an electrified double-track line.
  • It connects Manchester Piccadilly and Wilmslow stations.
  • There is a spur that serves Manchester Airport station.
  • East Didsbury station, is the station North of where the two lines cross.
  • Gatley station, is the station South of where the two lines cross.
  • It is the route of trains to and from Manchester Airport.

These trains go through East Didsbury and Gatley stations in trains per hour (tph)

  • 1 tph – Northern – Liverpool Lime Street and Crewe
  • 1 tph – Northern – Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport
  • 1 tph – Northern – Manchester Airport and Blackpool North
  • 1 tph – Northern – Manchester Airport and Cumbria
  • 1 tph – Trains for Wales – Manchester Airport and Chester
  • 1 tph – TransPennine Express – Manchester Airport and Redcar Central
  • 1 tph – TransPennine Express – Manchester Airport and Newcastle
  • 1 tph – TransPennine Express – Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central or Edinburgh

Freight trains also use the route.

This means that currently, there are eight tph between the Castlefield Corridor (Deansgate, Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly) and Manchester Airport, all of which go through the location, where the four-poster station could possibly be built.

So could the new station, be used to take pressure off the overloaded Castlefield Corridor?

The Mid-Cheshire Line

The Mid-Cheshire Line has the following characteristics.

  • At this point it is a single-track without electrification.
  • It connects Stockport and Altrincham stations.

Re-Doubling Of The Mid Cheshire Line Between Stockport and Altrincham And Associated Station Reopenings is another of the Beeching Reversal projects and envisages the following.

  • Re-doubling the route.
  • Possible electrification
  • Reopening some stations.

This is the only passenger service that uses the route.

  • 1 tph – Northern – Manchester Piccadilly and Chester

Up to two-three freight tph, also use the route.

In the related post, I said this about the desired frequency of services between Manchester and Chester stations.

It could be argued that two tph between Manchester Piccadilly and Chester are needed now and that four tph should be the preferred frequency.

There certainly needs to be four tph going through the proposed four-poster station.

Conclusion

I am being drawn to the conclusion, that this station if it were to be built, would help a lot of problems with Manchester’s railways.

  • It would allow a sort out of train services to Manchester Airport.
  • It would connect Stockport and Manchester Airport.
  • It would connect Stockport and East Didsbury.
  • It could help a solution to the problem of the Castlefield Corridor.

The station should be built.

August 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments