Manchester Recovery Taskforce (timetable) consultation

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jonnyfan

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A public consultation looking at different timetable solutions for the Manchester Castlefield Corridor has been launched today.
It details 3 different timetable options to improve performance and service levels. I've had a quick read through, and some of the changes proposed are quite substantial. I don't think there is any one option that will completely satisfy everyone and there will be winners and losers.


I wonder what everyone's thoughts are, I've not made a decision yet on what option I think would be best
 
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TheSel

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Option 3, defined as:

separating train movements as far as possible to minimise the amount of delay one train may cause on another

Gosh! Who'd have thought of that! I'm glad we've got some real experts looking at the issue.
 

TheDavibob

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Clearly everybody operationally wants Option C. The issue is that it's politically more challenging as it goes against the current 'go from everywhere to everywhere' mentality. I assume the point of this consultation is to make it as clear to everybody as possible that a half-hourly, consistent timetable is the best, even if it means you might have to change at Piccadilly for the Airport.
 

jonnyfan

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I've decided on Option C - there are a few observations/criticisms and changes I would make possibly:

Southport
This one is always tricky, they are obsessed with the connection to Oxford Road/Piccadilly - so I do think that the peak-hours service is a good compromise (I would expect one of the Southport to Stalybridge services would start at Wigan during the peak time, as 3 tph to Southport would be over-provision)

Ordsall Curve
The Newcastle service should terminate at Victoria at all times

Liverpool to Airport
The stopping service from Liverpool should run through to the Airport (all stops on the Airport line to make up for my change I would make for Crewe services below)

Crewe line
Passengers along the Crewe line won't be happy with these proposals, longer journey times to Manchester and loss of Stockport on their services. I think the compromise would be to have 1 tph doing all stops via the Airport as proposed (and as is now), and have the 2nd train each hour run fast from Wilmslow to Piccadilly via the Styal line to maintain good journey times, especially as Piccadilly is the main destination on that line. Those passengers for Stockport would have a same platform interchange at Alderley Edge (which will have 2tph to Stockport).

Can't please everybody but I do think the benefits overall outweigh any negatives
 

Ianno87

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Option 3, defined as:

separating train movements as far as possible to minimise the amount of delay one train may cause on another

Gosh! Who'd have thought of that! I'm glad we've got some real experts looking at the issue.

That's always a trade off with ops planning - maximising segregation versus maximising direct connections. The real experts identify the correct solution in the middle grey area.

But never be surprised about how some non-planners really, really can't grasp this trade-off (because it's not their job or expertise to do so)
 

Bletchleyite

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I've decided on Option C - there are a few observations/criticisms and changes I would make possibly:

Southport
This one is always tricky, they are obsessed with the connection to Oxford Road/Piccadilly - so I do think that the peak-hours service is a good compromise (I would expect one of the Southport to Stalybridge services would start at Wigan during the peak time, as 3 tph to Southport would be over-provision)

I think the "obsessed" thing is a bit unfair - travel patterns have built up since the Windsor Link in the 1980s to places like the university. I think if you asked Sandgrounders if they'd prefer 1tph to Castlefield or 2 to Vic they'd go for the former. So with maxed-out train lengths all day, I'd propose operating Southport to Oxford Road hourly, swapping the Chat Moss local back to Vic which is also its long term home so people are used to it. Perhaps a second Southport could operate to Wigan Wallgate bay only.
 

jonnyfan

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I think the "obsessed" thing is a bit unfair - travel patterns have built up since the Windsor Link in the 1980s to places like the university. I think if you asked Sandgrounders if they'd prefer 1tph to Castlefield or 2 to Vic they'd go for the former. So with maxed-out train lengths all day, I'd propose operating Southport to Oxford Road hourly, swapping the Chat Moss local back to Vic which is also its long term home so people are used to it. Perhaps a second Southport could operate to Wigan Wallgate bay only.
It is all a compromise though, somewhere people are going to lose out, the Crewe line will lose out on direct services to Stockport, travel patterns will have to change just as they have previously when other big timetable changes have been required.

There does need to be some tough choices with this, as the current situation is not sustainable - it just about holds together today with the reduced timetable, but once higher passenger numbers are back it will once again turn to an omni-shambles of a service every day.
 

Ianno87

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It is all a compromise though, somewhere people are going to lose out, the Crewe line will lose out on direct services to Stockport, travel patterns will have to change just as they have previously when other big timetable changes have been required.

There does need to be some tough choices with this, as the current situation is not sustainable - it just about holds together today with the reduced timetable, but once higher passenger numbers are back it will once again turn to an omni-shambles of a service every day.

And, from the report, the options proposed consider actual passenger demand flows. Clearly not absolutely everybody is going to be catered for, but what is proposed seems to be intended as a "best fit" and meet as many flows as is possible (and offer easy connections where a direct service cannot be provided)
 

Bletchleyite

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And, from the report, the options proposed consider actual passenger demand flows. Clearly not absolutely everybody is going to be catered for, but what is proposed seems to be intended as a "best fit" and meet as many flows as is possible (and offer easy connections where a direct service cannot be provided)

I suppose to be fair assuming both of those Blackpool-Ringway EMUs call at Salford Crescent (do they?) then you've got a reasonable connection from Southport to Castlefield and back, provided they don't end up requiring 29 minute waits. As it's same platform by definition, if they are timed right that could be a very usable connection like say the south WCML Brum semifast to Bletchley connection at Leighton that is only a short wait and basically never misses.
 

Ianno87

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I suppose to be fair assuming both of those Blackpool-Ringway EMUs call at Salford Crescent (do they?) then you've got a reasonable connection from Southport to Castlefield and back, provided they don't end up requiring 29 minute waits. As it's same platform by definition, if they are timed right that could be a very usable connection like say the south WCML Brum semifast to Bletchley connection at Leighton that is only a short wait and basically never misses.

The Bolton-Piccadilly flow seems to also be much more standardised, with effectively 2tph to the Airport and 2tph to Hazel Grove (or Variants thereof), so "connections" at Salford Crescent (or Bolton) ought to be more consistent and evenly spread on 15/30 minute patterns (unlike today where the 2tph Bolton-Stockport are only about 10 minutes apart!)
 

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Option "C" seems to be by far the most logical and most robust, and generally to deliver the most regular service patterns.

One thing—minor in the grand scheme but shewing a particular attitude—I really dislike in "A" and "B" is the willingness to muck around with and degrade a supposedly inter-city service to keep the short-distance travellers happy. In "A" you suddenly lose the "Takt" of the Scotland services in the peak hours, and in "B" it's fine apparently to stick in not only a full Bolton stop but also decelerate with a Chorley stop those already not-very-fast inter-city trains. What's wrong with getting the commuter capacity with longer commuter trains, as Bletchleyite has suggested, rather than by degrading an IC service?

But whichever way you look at it, it does make the Ordsall Chord look like rather a £90 million (or whatever it was) white elephant, doesn't it?
 

Bletchleyite

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But whichever way you look at it, it does make the Ordsall Chord look like rather a £90 million (or whatever it was) white elephant, doesn't it?

It was a stupid idea, and if the money had been spent on 15/16 instead we wouldn't be in half as much of a mess. Even with Option C the service will still collapse[1] in the event of a medical emergency or failure of a train in 13 or 14, whereas with 15/16 it wouldn't. But the railway is just obsessed with spending on infrastructure to cram more 2 and 3-car DMUs in here or there, and not with the most important thing, which the Swiss will tell you is to build for resilience and connectivity.

Spare paths are a virtue, not a waste.

[1] Option C should logically come with simplified diagramming, i.e. a member of traincrew or a unit that operates a Southport-Stalybridge does not operate any other route that day - it's easier to undo the mess then.
 

Ianno87

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It was a stupid idea, and if the money had been spent on 15/16 instead we wouldn't be in half as much of a mess.

Although 15/16 were less developed in the consents process and possibly more expensive.

So the actual choice was Ordsall Chord or nothing at all.
 

Bletchleyite

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Although 15/16 were less developed in the consents process and possibly more expensive.

So the actual choice was Ordsall Chord or nothing at all.

In that case, nothing at all would have been preferable. The Chord has been almost entirely negative in its effect; removing the Airport extensions of the Picc TPE terminators would have solved the "crossing the throat" issue and saved two 185 diagrams to double something else up.
 

Ianno87

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In that case, nothing at all would have been preferable.

Until such a time that 15/16 were possible.

In the meantime, the consultation released today does show credible ways of using the chord infrastructure (in absence of 15/16), so it is not "entirely negative".
 

Bletchleyite

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Until such a time that 15/16 were possible.

In the meantime, the consultation released today does show credible ways of using the chord infrastructure (in absence of 15/16), so it is not "entirely negative".

Sub-optimal ways that are simply not needed, at the expense of established service patterns from the West. A second tail to wag the dog with if Ringway was not enough on its own.

It should be mothballed.
 

Ianno87

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Sub-optimal ways that are simply not needed, at the expense of established service patterns from the West.

The demand profile has changed with Covid. "Established service patterns" should give way to "strategic needs for the future"

A second tail to wag the dog with if Ringway was not enough on its own.

Ringway is merely the operational consequence of where you end up if you head via Castlefield

It should be mothballed.

Then kiss bye bye to future rail investment in the north.
 

Bletchleyite

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The demand profile has changed with Covid. "Established service patterns" should give way to "strategic needs for the future"

We don't yet know how they have changed, but I think you can be sure that demand from Southport to the University area won't have changed much long-term, unless all the red-bricks move to distance learning (which they won't).

Ringway is merely the operational consequence of where you end up if you head via Castlefield

But Ringway is the only reason to put those two TPEs on the Chord. If you take that out, sending them into Piccadilly P1/2 makes more sense.

Then kiss bye bye to future rail investment in the north.

As I've said on the HS2 thread, what the North needs is, other than P15/16, platform extensions, electrification and long (South East style) EMUs to make best use of the capacity. It doesn't need these ill-advised vanity projects. It's a much simpler problem to solve than the South East commuter capacity issue (which might well now have solved itself, anyway).

As far as I'm concerned, you could take option C and make it even better simply by removing both the TPEs on the Chord and sending them both into Picc P1/2, even if you did nothing else to it. Two fewer services on Castlefield = even better resilience. Even better still, drop north TPE to 4tph of long trains (it's not Metrolink or the Tube, you don't need silly-high frequencies) and you gain resilience on that line, too.

OK, yes, I want an all day Southport to Castlefield but that could be gained by diverting the Chat Moss local back into Victoria and the Southport to Oxford Road in its place, which is again a well-established pattern. I don't agree with having swapped those over.
 

Ianno87

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We don't yet know how they have changed, but I think you can be sure that demand from Southport to the University area won't have changed much long-term, unless all the red-bricks move to distance learning (which they won't).

And how does Southport-University compare in the grand scheme of things to everything else? Leeds/Huddersfield-University not worth consideration, for example?


But Ringway is the only reason to put those two TPEs on the Chord. If you take that out, sending them into Piccadilly P1/2 makes more sense.

No it's not. The chord enables TPEs to be concentrated at Victoria (all 4tph) with the best journey time to Leeds, whilst retaining a direct connection round to Oxford Road and Piccadilly. The Airport is pretty much a happy coincidence arising from that.


As I've said on the HS2 thread, what the North needs is, other than P15/16, platform extensions, electrification and long (South East style) EMUs to make best use of the capacity. It doesn't need these ill-advised vanity projects. It's a much simpler problem to solve than the South East commuter capacity issue (which might well now have solved itself, anyway).

You want long EMUs, but yet it's *vital* that a Southport DMU runs through Castlefield?

OK, yes, I want an all day Southport to Castlefield but that could be gained by diverting the Chat Moss local back into Victoria and the Southport to Oxford Road in its place, which is again a well-established pattern. I don't agree with having swapped those over.

Isn't that basically Option C? Just with the Southport running all day?

If it's a choice between a Southport and a TPE, which one benefits more passengers, considering ease of alternatives for those passengers?
 
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Bletchleyite

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Isn't that basically Option C? Just with the Southport running all day?

If it's a choice between a Southport and a TPE, which one benefits more passengers, considering ease of alternatives for those passengers?

It isn't a choice between a Southport and a TPE, I'd just swap back the Chat Moss local and one of the Southports (potentially even removing the second one entirely, so a resilience gain for Vic too).

It's about the Ordsall service being completely unnecessary. That's 2 paths per hour that could be left empty for resilience.
 

Watershed

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OK, yes, I want an all day Southport to Castlefield but that could be gained by diverting the Chat Moss local back into Victoria and the Southport to Oxford Road in its place, which is again a well-established pattern. I don't agree with having swapped those over.
Existing travel patterns have been smashed to smithereens by the pandemic. The industry should not be shackled by its historic offering.

There is absolutely no sense in running Southport services into the Castlefield corridor, when running to Victoria (or beyond) avoids all conflicts with the Chat Moss and CLC lines, and thus avoids any possibility of "delay transmission".

You don't see Metrolink running 2tph from Bury to each of East Didsbury, Ashton, Eccles, Mediacity and Manchester Airport. With a sufficiently frequent and reliable service, changing trains needn't be a great burden.
 

Ianno87

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It's about the Ordsall service being completely unnecessary. That's 2 paths per hour that could be left empty for resilience.

The point is that the number of paths proposed by the options is deemed to be resilient; essentially the level as operated prior to May 2018 (which did perform well, any industrial issues aside).

It doesn't stand up to much scrutiny to say "13tph is the maximum practical" (As per the report released in 2019, and in line with established international capacity utilisation thresholds) then turn round and say "nah, we'll just keep a couple more spare to make sure".

If you've got valuable city centre infrastructure paid for by taxpayers, it *should* be filled up to a resilient level of capacity. Which is what these options do.
 

Glenn1969

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For those of us who currently have no direct link to the South side of Manchester without needing to use the tram or a longish walk I would say the Chord is a godsend if a way could be found to use it efficiently

Of these options I prefer Option C- but how do those in Sheffield and Liverpool feel about losing their Airport train?

Mods- I posted a similar thread on the Infrastructure forum before I saw this one. Feel free to delete if you want to avoid duplication
 

Senex

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.... and not with the most important thing, which the Swiss will tell you is to build for resilience and connectivity.

Spare paths are a virtue, not a waste.
Are we still suffering the aftermath of the 1980s attribution of every little piece of infrastructure to an owning business, with pressure on that business to get rid of anything it didn't regularly use? That's a recipe for no resilience, because resilience comes at a cost. Admnistrations like SBB understand this and understand the need for enough facilities to be able to keep things going smoothly through a moderate level of perturbation. Britain's railways in the 1960s and 1970s probaly still did have an infrastructure far too generous for the reduced demands of the day, but did we go far too far in cutting back, and do those attitudes still prevail in DfT? (Interestingly, we are hearing comments now that under the pressure of the accountants DB is doing the same thing, and discovering that in times of perturbation it just can't cope—stop the job and summon the buses.) Yes, a measure of resilience and some spare paths have a cost, but both are (if not taken to excess) virtues.
 

Y Ddraig Coch

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How are North Wales trains getting back to Wales in C ?? Is it via Stockport, Northwich etc, basically the long way round??
 

cle

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I can't see that Southport is especially important in the grand scheme of things, it is definitely the weakest link here. 1tph to Manchester should be sufficient, but if we are doing 2tph and all are to Victoria and Staly, great for them as I think that is pretty generous. Folks will adapt. Plenty others have. It's a small market for Manchester, being much closer affiliated to Liverpool. Marginal.

Option C is definitely the right way to approach this.

I can understand the sentiment on Ordsall. Should we use it to its capacity now? No. It was just phase 1 of a larger thing. Perhaps the wrong order of phases, but it was built and now we have it.

But does it, and its underuse add to the case for P15/16? Absolutely.
 
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