The Anonymous Widower

Northern Powerhouse Rail – A New Line Between Liverpool And Manchester Via The Centre Of Warrington

In this article on Transport for the North, which is entitled Northern Powerhouse Rail Progress As Recommendations Made To Government, one of the recommendations proposed for Northern Powerhouse Rail is a new rail line between Liverpool and Manchester via the centre of Warrington.

I shall look at a few of the possibilities for various sections of the line starting at the Manchester end.

High Speed Two And Northern Powerhouse Rail Between Warrington/Lymm And Manchester Airport

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the route of High Speed Two in the area between Lymm and Manchester Airport.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two is shown in orange
  2. The blue dot is Manchester Interchange station at Manchester Airport.
  3. High Speed Two goes North to Wigan North Western station.
  4. High Speed Two goes South to Crewe station.
  5. High Speed Two goes East to Manchester and the East.
  6. The East-West Motorway is the M56 with Junction 7/8 in the middle of the map and Junction 9 with the M6, at the Western edge of the map.

This enlarged map shows High Speed Two between Manchester Airport and Junction 7/8 of the M56.

 

The colours of High Speed Two indicate the type of construction.

  • Black is a bored tunnel. Only in the North East corner, where it continues to Manchester.
  • Brown is a track between retaining walls. Used through Manchester Interchange or Airport station.
  • Red is a viaduct.
  • Yellow is a cutting.

This Google Map shows a similar area.

High Speed Two’s tracks will be on the South side of the Motorway and will be shared with Northern Powerhouse Rail.

  • There is likely to be up to twelve trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  • I would think, that with modern signalling that the trains would be running at 140 mph or more.
  • Between Manchester Airport and Warrington could be a line as between St. Pancras and Ebbsfleet on High Speed One.

This map clipped from High Speed Two’s interactive map, shows the M56 and High Speed Two around Junction 7/8 of the M56.

The colours are as before.

  • The obvious way to build a new rail line between Manchester and Warrington, would surely be to create a rail junction just South of the Motorway junction.
  • A line to Warrington could run along the South side of the Motorway.
  • I also believe that there should be a connection between the High Speed Two lines to Manchester and Wigan North Western, to allow high speed services between Manchester and Barrow, Blackpool, Preston, Windermere and Scotland.

Building the rail junctions around the Motorway junctions would be a good idea for environmental and visual reasons.

Northern Powerhouse Rail would then continue to Junction 9 of the M56 Motorway.

This Google Map, shows the M56 around Junction 9 with the M6.

Note.

  1. The M56 running East-West.
  2. The M6 running North-South.
  3. Lymm services to the North-West of the junction.
  4. Lymm is to the North-East and Warrington is to the North-West of the junction.

Would it be possible for to run South of the M56 and then turn North to run along the Western side of the M6 towards Warrington?

I very much feel, that with modern 3D software, an engineer with expertise in extreme knitting could thread a double-track line through to take a North-Western route towards Warrington.

The Bridge Across The Mersey

If you look at maps of the area, there is a big problem of water between Junction 9 of the M56 and Warrington town centre, with its two stations of Warrington Bank Quay and Warrington Central, both of which have services to Liverpool Lime Street station.

The problem is the Manchester Ship Canal.

I then noticed a bridge to the South East of the town centre, which is shown in this Google Map.

It may look like it has got more than a touch of the dreaded iron moths, but it certainly looks like it was once a double track rail line.

The bridge was on the Warrington and Altrincham Junction Railway, which did what you would expect from the name.

This Google Map shows the track of the railway either side of the bridge.

Note the bridge in the centre of the map and the green scar of the former railway running East-West across the map.

To the East the green scar of the railway can be picked out all the way to M6.

Note.

  1. The bridge is at the West over the Manchester Ship Canal.
  2. The green scar of the Warrington and Altrincham Junction Railway can be followed all the way to the M6,
  3. I think the track is now a footpath, as it is marked on the map with a dotted white line.

I would be interested to know, if it could take a modern double track railway.

This Google Map shows an enlarged view of where the green scar of the Warrington and Altrincham Junction Railway goes under the M6.

Note the dotted white line marking the railway, towards the top of the map.

Would it be possible to design a track layout, where Northern Powerhouse Rail came up the Western side of the M6 and was able to connect to Warrington?

I certainly believe it’s a possibility.

Warrington Bank Quay Station

To the West of the bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal, the Warrington and Altrincham Junction Railway ran through low-level platforms at Warrington Bank Quay station.

This Google Map shows Warrington Bank Quay station.

This picture shows a freight train passing under Warrington Bank Quay station.

Note.

  1. There are four North-South platforms on the West Coast Main Line.
  2. The Warrington and Altrincham Junction Railway passes East-West under the four main platforms.
  3. Low levels platforms used to handle passengers on the East-West lines.
  4. I was looking to the East in the picture.
  5. The tracks continue to the West on the route of the former St. Helens Railway, which is now a freight route.
  6. The map shows the tracks curving sharply round one of the meanders of the River Mersey.

Warrington Bank Quay station is on a congested and tight site, but by using some of the spare railway land, I feel it could rebuilt to be an excellent station for Warrington.

Warrington Bank Quay Station As An Interchange

Warrington Bank Quay station could be an excellent and efficient interchange between High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

There are also local services from the station, which could be useful for some travellers.

Between Warrington Bank Quay Station And Widnes

This Google Map shows the Mersey estuary between Warrington Bank Quay station and Widnes.

Note.

  1. Warrington is in the North-East corner of the map, with Warrington Bank Quay station shown by a red station symbol.
  2. The new Mersey Gateway bridge is in the South-West corner of the map.
  3. The River Mersey meanders between the bridge and Warrington.
  4. Fiddlers Ferry power station can be picked out in the nearest meander of the Mersey to the bridge.
  5. The dark straight line below the river is the Manchester Ship Canal.
  6. There is currently a freight line on the North bank of the river.

This Google Map shows Fiddlers Ferry power station, with the railway between the now-decommissioned power station and the River Mersey.

Note.

  1. Fiddlers Ferry will become an employment site.
  2. It could even be a good place for a depot for Northern Powerhouse Rail.
  3. I think there’s scope to increase the operating speed of the railway along the Mersey.

Could it even be an electrified high speed line with a 125 mph operating speed?

Between Widnes And Liverpool Lime Street

The trains coming from Warrington could join the Liverpool Branch of the West Coast Main Line at Ditton East Junction.

The route between Ditton East Junction and Liverpool Lime Street has the following characteristics.

  • It has four tracks.
  • It is 10.6 miles long.
  • Avanti West Coast’s expresses typically take twelve minutes for the trip without stopping.
  • The stations on the route; Liverpool South Parkway; West Allerton, Mossley Hill and Edge Hill, all have one platform per line.
  • It is fully electrified.
  • Lime Street station has recently been updated with longer platforms and a higher capacity approach to the station.
  • Some local services have already been moved to Merseyrail’s Northern Line.
  • Stopping services on the route have their own platforms.

I believe that with the installation of full digital signalling and a degree of automatic train control, as far as Crewe and Warrington Bank Quay stations, that the following services could be handled.

  • Six tph – Northern Powerhouse Rail – Liverpool and Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly
  • One tph – East Midlands Railway – Liverpool and Nottingham
  • Three tph – High Speed Two – Liverpool and London Euston
  • One tph – High Speed Two – Liverpool and Birmingham Curzon Street
  • Two tph – London North Western – Liverpool and Birmingham and London Euston

Note.

  1. This is only 13 tph.
  2. Avanti West Coast services would be replaced by High Speed Two.
  3. TransPennine Express services would be replaced by Northern Powerhouse Rail
  4. The Liverpool and Nottingham service may or may not go via Ditton East junction.

If the capacity on this branch could be raised to 15 tph, that would be only be a train every four minutes, or half the frequency, that will eventually be operational on Crossrail and Thameslink. It would also be less than the 18 tph frequency of High Speed Two.

Conclusion

This simple exercise has proven to me, that a high speed line could be built between Manchester Airport and Liverpool Lime Street station.

  • Several sections of the route could have an operating speed of 125 mph or more.
  • By running the tracks along the M56 and M6, visual and aural intrusion could be minimised.
  • The line along the Mersey through Warrington could be a valuable part of the route.
  • West of Warrington, much of the infrastructure needed, appears to be in place and it would only need to be upgraded.

There was a large and extremely pleasant surprise at the Liverpool end.

The approach to Liverpool Lime Street is two fast and two slow lines, and I believe, that this section of the route could handle up to say 15 fast trains and six stopping trains per hour, with full digital signalling.

Unlike London and Manchester, I doubt that Liverpool will need a tunnel to access the City Centre.

I also believe that after its refurbishment of the last couple of years, Lime Street could be substantially ready for High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Project Management Recommendations

This project divides neatly into three.

  1. Between Manchester Airport and Warrington along the route of the M56 and M6.
  2. Reconstruction, upgrading and electrification through Warrington and the rebuilding of Warrington Bank Quay station.
  3. Reconstruction, upgrading and electrification between Warrington and Liverpool.

The first project will be a major one, involving the construction of nearly twenty miles of new electrified railway, with numerous viaducts, bridges and a large junction at High Legh with High Speed Two.

The other two projects would be a lot simpler and would involve turning twenty miles of double-track freight line into a modern electrified railway.

I would construct projects 2 and 3 early in the schedule, as it would give Warrington a new Bank Quay station. A passenger service to Liverpool Lime Street, could also be opened if required.

 

 

 

November 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

High Speed Two To The North West Of England

This map clipped from the High Speed Two web site, shows High Speed Two routes in the North West of England.

Note.

  1. When shown in orange, High Speed Two will use new tracks.
  2. When shown in blue, High Speed Two will use existing tracks.
  3. New stations are shown as large blue dots.
  4. High Speed Two and the West Coast Main Line appear to share a corridor through Crewe, before dividing near Walley’s Green.
  5. High Speed Two loops to the East of the West Coast Main Line and rejoins it South of Wigan between Bryn Gates and Abram Brow.

The route will or might serve the following stations in North West England.

Blackpool North

Blackpool North station is not planned to be served by High Speed Two.

But the station has been recently rebuilt.

  • It has a number of platforms, that are capable of handling 200 metre long classic-compatible High Speed Two trains.
  • The route to High Speed Two at Preston is fully electrified.
  • In a couple of years, it will be connected to Blackpool’s expanding tramway.
  • Blackpool would welcome High Speed Two with open arms.

Blackpool North  would be an ideal extra destination, if more trains were to be split and joined at Crewe.

But whatever happens, I believe that high speed commuter trains will run from Blackpool North.

  • Blackpool and Manchester Piccadilly via Preston, Wigan North Western, Warrington Bank Quay and Manchester Airport.
  • Blackpool and Derby via Preston, Wigan North Western, Warrington Bank Quay, Crewe and Stoke-on-Trent.

Blackpool North has the platforms and electrification and it will be used.

Carlisle

Carlisle station is a through station on the current Glasgow service and can handle a nine-car Class 390 train which is over 210 metres long, which means they can handle a 200 metre long, classic-compatible High Speed Two train.

But two tph will be 400 metre London Euston and Edinburgh/Glasgow trains, so platform lengthening will probably be required.

There will be the following trains.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Carlisle – I tph – 118 minutes
  • London Euston and Carlisle – 2 tph – 154 minutes.

After any necessary platform lengthening, Carlisle will be ready  and waiting for High Speed Two and will be reached in Phase 1 of the project.

The High Speed Two web site, says Carlisle will be reached in Phase 2b, but as Edinburgh and Glasgow are part of Phase 1, this must be a mistake.

Crewe

Crewe station is at the bottom of the map, just to the right of centre.

The station gets this introduction on this page of the High Speed Two web site.

HS2 services will call at Crewe, where passengers will be able to access the high speed network heading south. Journey times to London will be cut to under an hour. Macclesfield, Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent will also receive HS2 services, spreading the benefits of better connectivity.

The page also says that between five and seven trains per hour (tph) will call at Crewe.

Lancaster

Lancaster station is a through station on the current Glasgow service and can handle a nine-car Class 390 train which is over 210 metres long, which means they can handle a 200 metre long, classic-compatible High Speed Two train.

Lancaster will also be a terminus of 200 metre long classic-compatible High peed Two train from London Euston, so there may need to be refurbishment to handle the larger, if not longer train.

The use of Lancaster as a terminus, would appear to have the following advantages.

  • The platform is already there.
  • Using Lancaster as a terminal, may reduce the scope of works at Carlisle and Preston.
  • The one tph service from London Euston is effectively a High Speed Northern stopper between Lancaster and Crewe, with calls at Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western and Preston stations.
  • Lancaster has connections to Barrow-in-Furness, Heysham Port and Morecambe and the scenic Cumbrian Coast and Settle-Carlisle Lines.
  • Paces like Barrow-in-Furness. Morecambe and a host of other stations, should save forty-three minutes on journeys to and from London.

I think that Lancaster, is a good place to terminate a service in the North-West of England.

There will be the following trains.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Lancaster – I tph – 65 minutes
  • London Euston and Lancaster – 1 tph – 101 minutes.

After the necessary refurbishment, Lancaster will be ready  and waiting for High Speed Two and will be reached in Phase 2b of the project.

But I do feel that Lancaster could be reached in Phase 1 of the project, if necessary works North of Preston and at Lancaster station were planned as an independent project.

Liverpool Lime Street

Liverpool Lime Street station is at the Western edge of the map, at the end of the Liverpool Branch of the West Coast Main Line.

Liverpool gets this headline and brief description on this page of the High Speed Two web site.

The City Region Wants To Deliver a World Class Transport Network

Its ambitious plans would integrate the existing HS2 route and builds on the Northern Powerhouse Rail proposals for high speed, east-west links directly into Liverpool City Centre.

Liverpool has made a good start to prepare for High Speed Two.

  • The Grade II Listed; Lime Street station now has lengthened platforms and an improved layout so that it can handle two 200 metre long High Speed Two trains per hour.
  • Merseyrail is taking delivery of a fleet of new Class 777 trains to update their suburban network.
  • By the time High Speed Two arrives in the city, the suburban network will be larger.

Liverpool is ready and waiting for High Speed Two and will be reached in Phase 1 of the project.

Macclesfield

Macclesfield station is at the Eastern edge of the map, at the end of its own leg of High Speed Two.

The station was the surprise destination added, during the last iteration of High Speed Two.

  • The late, great Brian Redhead, who lived in the town would be very pleased.
  • The station was rebuilt in 1960 and has three platforms.
  • It is planned to have one tph to London Euston via Stoke-on-Trent, Stafford and Old Oak Common.
  • The visualisation on this page of the High Speed Two web site, also shows three platforms, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a fourth added, as the extra platform would add flexibility.

The second surprise for Macclesfield, is that like Liverpool, it will be reached in Phase 1 of the project.

Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport station is the Southern large blue dot at the top of the map.

This page on the High Speed Two web site is rather sparse on information about Manchester Airport station.

I have combined train times given on the web page, with frequencies from an article in the June 2020 Edition of Modern Railways to create this table, which should be valid after the completion of High Speed Two.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Manchester Airport – 2 tph – 32 minutes
  • Birmingham Interchange and Manchester Airport – 1 tph – 29 minutes
  • London Euston and Manchester Airport – 3 tph – 63 minutes
  • London Old Oak Common and Manchester Airport – 3 tph – 56 minutes
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport – 5 tph – 6 minutes

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, I stated that Northern Powerhouse Rail were proposing the following Liverpool and Manchester service.

Manchester Airport station will be reached in Phase 2b of the project.

  • Six tph
  • Stops at Manchester Airport and Warrington.
  • An end-to-end journey time of 26 minutes.

This would do the following.

  • Add a Liverpool and Manchester Airport service with a frequency of 6 tph, that will take 20 minutes.
  • Add a Warrington Parkway and Manchester Airport service with a frequency of 6 tph that will take around 10 minutes.
  • Increase the frequency between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport to 11 tph. Or more likely 12 tph.

How many cities have an airport connection running every five minutes using trains running at 125 mph?

As these Liverpool and Manchester services would probably start in places like Hull and Newcastle and come via varied routes that included a selection of Bradford, Doncaster Huddersfield, Leeds and Sheffield, all of the North, that lies to the East of the Pennines will be connected to Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Airport and Liverpool by high speed trains.

Manchester Piccadilly

Manchester Piccadilly station is the Northern large blue dot at the top of the map.

This page on the High Speed Two web site is rather sparse on information about Manchester Piccadilly station.

Using the same data as before I can create a table of services from Manchester Piccadilly station, where I have included Liverpool and Manchester services, that will be run by Northern Powerhouse Rail.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street – 2 tph – 40 minutes
  • Birmingham Interchange – 1 tph – 37 minutes
  • London Euston – 3 tph – 67 minutes
  • London Old Oak Common – 3 tph – 60 minutes
  • Manchester Airport – 12 tph – 6 minutes
  • Liverpool – 6 tph – 26 minutes

Manchester Piccadilly station will be reached in Phase 2b of the project.

Oxenholme Lake District

Oxenholme Lake District station is a through station on the current Glasgow service and can handle a nine-car Class 390 train which is over 210 metres long, which means they can handle a 200 metre long, classic-compatible High Speed Two train.

There will be the following trains.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Oxenholm Lake District – I tph – 79 minutes
  • London Euston and Oxenholme Lake District – 115 minutes – Change at Preston

Oxenholme Lake District is ready  and waiting for High Speed Two and will be reached in Phase 2b of the project.

But I do feel that Oxenholme Lake Districtcould be reached in Phase 1 of the project, if necessary works North of Preston and at Lancaster station were planned as an independent project

Penrith North Lakes

Penrith North Lakes station is a through station on the current Glasgow service and can handle a nine-car Class 390 train which is over 210 metres long, which means they can handle a 200 metre long, classic-compatible High Speed Two train.

There will be the following trains.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Penrith North Lakes – I tph – 102 minutes
  • London Euston and Penrith North Lakes – 138 minutes – Change at Preston

Penrith North Lakes is ready  and waiting for High Speed Two and will be reached in Phase 2b of the project.

But I do feel that Penrith North Lakes could be reached in Phase 1 of the project, if necessary works North of Preston and at Lancaster station were planned as an independent project

Preston

Preston station is a through station on the current Glasgow service and can handle a nine-car Class 390 train which is over 210 metres long, which means they can handle a 200 metre long, classic-compatible High Speed Two train.

But two tph will be 400 metre London Euston and Edinburgh/Glasgow trains, so platform lengthening will probably be required.

There will be the following trains.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Preston – I tph – 50 minutes
  • London Euston and Preston – 3 tph – 78 minutes.

After any necessary platform lengthening, Preston will be ready  and waiting for High Speed Two and will be reached in Phase 1 of the project.

Runcorn

Runcorn station is a through station on the Liverpool service and can handle a nine-car Class 390 train which is over 210 metres long, which means they can handle a 200 metre long, classic-compatible High Speed Two train.

There will be two tph between London Euston and Runcorn and trains will take 74 minutes.

Runcorn is ready  and waiting for High Speed Two and will be reached in Phase 1 of the project.

Stafford

Stafford station is a through station on the Macclesfield service and can handle a nine-car Class 390 train which is over 210 metres long, which means they can handle a 200 metre long, classic-compatible High Speed Two train.

There will be one tph between London Euston and Stafford and trains will take 54 minutes.

Sfafford is ready  and waiting for High Speed Two and will be reached in Phase 1 of the project.

Stoke

Stoke station is a through station on the Macclesfield service and can handle a nine-car Class 390 train which is over 210 metres long, which means they can handle a 200 metre long, classic-compatible High Speed Two train.

There will be one tph between London Euston and Stoke and trains will take 71 minutes.

Stoke is ready  and waiting for High Speed Two and will be reached in Phase 1 of the project.

Warrington

Warrington Bank Quay station is a through station on the current Glasgow service and can handle a nine-car Class 390 train which is over 210 metres long, which means they can handle a 200 metre long, classic-compatible High Speed Two train.

There will be the following trains.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Warrington Bank Quay – I tph – 25 minutes
  • London Euston and Warrington Bank Quay – 1 tph – 73 minutes.

Warrington Bank Quay is ready  and waiting for High Speed Two and will be reached in Phase 1 of the project.

Wigan

Wigan North Western station is a through station on the current Glasgow service and can handle a nine-car Class 390 train which is over 210 metres long, which means they can handle a 200 metre long, classic-compatible High Speed Two train.

There will be the following trains.

  • Birmingham Curzon Street and Wigan North Western – I tph – 36 minutes
  • London Euston and Wigan North Western – 1 tph – 84 minutes.

Wigan North Western is ready  and waiting for High Speed Two and will be reached in Phase 1 of the project.

 

June 25, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 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/Travel, World | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Investigating Warrington

Warrington with its two stations at Warrington Bank Quay and Warrington Central was flagged up as possible place for turning back Merseyrail trains on the Northern Line.

So on my way back from Leeds via Liverpool, I decided to visit for the first time.

If you trace these images on a map you’ll see that I walked from Central to Bank Quay and back again.

I was very pleasantly surprised.

Instead of the rather second-rate Lancashire town I’d expected, I found a town that had been enlivened by lots of shops and quite a few restaurants including an Ask and a Nando’s.

It’s also a good idea to look at the two stations with Google Earth images, to see what possibilities exist for turning trains back to Liverpool.

Warrington Central And Bus Stations

Warrington Central And Bus Stations

This image shows how the bus station is close to Warrington Central station, but as the station is close to the A57,which crosses the town, I doubt there’s any way a tram-train could access the Liverpool to Manchester Line on the viaduct.

Warrington Bank Quay Station

Warrington Bank Quay Station

You can clearly see the freight line passing under the West Coast Main Line in this image of Warrington Bank Quay station. A tram stop or low-level station on the freight line could easily be connected into the current high-level station and with lifts it could easily be a step-free interchange.

As I walked through Warrington town centre, I thought that an innovative tramway engineer could probably find a way to turn the tramway northward after Bank Quay station to perhaps finish its journey by Warrington Central station and the bus station. The route would probably be not more complicated than some of those in Manchester that I saw today.

But you could also go for a simple solution. There is probably space at the low-level Bank Quay station for a bay platform, where trains from Liverpool would turn back. That would not solve the problem of transfer passengers between the two rail stations and the bus station. They use a shuttle bus at present, so why not increase the frequency, perhaps power it by batteries and make it more visible!

Warrington got a boost today in that in this report on the Modern Railways web site, it was said that Liverpool to Manchester via Warrington is in the top group of lines that will be electrified.

That will also add to the possibilities of railway and tram-train layout in the Warrington area.

March 5, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , , | 1 Comment