Cross-border alliance formed for rail investment ….

Posted on December 3rd, 2013, by The Chairman

Good to see those with influence in North West England and North Wales getting together to look at overall transport strategy for the region. Here’s an article in today’s Insider North West.

We wonder whether this will include the Mid Cheshire line, the possibility of extra trains from North Wales / Chester to Manchester using the Mid Cheshire line, and also the possible link to the Airport railway station from the Mid Cheshire line at Mobberley.

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  1. Vince Chadwick Says:

    Not sure of the business case for electrification of the North Wales Coat line, though I’d love to see it. It’d be good if the line to Caernarfon (the ‘capital’ of North Wales?) from Bangor was restored, as well.

    As for the Airport – Mobberley link, that would make a lot of sense on its own, not least because it provide a route to the WCML for Airport services to Northern England and Scotland avoiding Piccadilly. However, it would be very expensive indeed as it’d require a tunnel from the present Airport station under the airport itself to reach the Mid Cheshire Line. Also, if that link were built would the line from Mobberley to Stockport still be required?

    Making a bit of a leap of imagination and going a bit off topic, if the Airport / Mobberley link not only allowed trains to reach the WCML but also to route towards Altrincham, That would open a Piccadilly-avoiding route for Airport – Leeds trains via Altrincham, Stockport, and Heaton Norris Junction! Wouldn’t need the Ordsall Chord then and the most significant heritage railway site in the world – Liverpool Road, AKA MoSI, could remain unmolested!

    I can dream!

  2. Simon Barber Says:

    I prefer to take the view that if there is enough backing, and will, to do the Mobberley spur, then the money will be found, so I try to highlight the advantages of the link (numerous) rather than the cost! The cost argument was not such an obstacle as to prevent RailTrack planning the route and the airport protecting the land. Tunnel is expensive, but the link overall is short. Besides the advantages you mention, it provides much the fastest feasible route from mid-Cheshire to Manchester (very direct, rivalling the original route via Sale), it provides North Wales with the most direct feasible link to the airport – important to the Welsh as North Wales has no international airport; and it increases the capacity of the airport station (always a problem) by making some trains into through services instead of requiring all trains to reverse. The spur could also relieve the pressure on Slade Lane junction, because MCL trains – and any other trains diverted via the MCL – which currently require separate paths into Manchester would become continuations of existing trains to/from the airport (which already have paths). Let’s focus on this!

    Stockport – Altrincham is an important freight route, not likely to be abandoned, so I would expect some passenger workings to continue that way even if the spur is built.

  3. Vince Chadwick Says:

    I agree with all your arguments for the Mobberley – Airport link. But is there any indication that it’s being seriously considered in the future rail plan for the area? I’d be delighted if there is.

  4. Jen Says:

    Vince Chadwick – the good news is an Airport link was mentioned in a 2009 Network Rail document. Network Rail see the benefit of being able to run through services via the Airport without a reversal, which I think puts it at a more advanced stage than the Middlewich campaign which Network Rail don’t currently see the benefit of. The bad news is they give the Airport link a date of 2019 to 2024 or later for the link to built so it won’t be in the list of schemes that Network Rail request funding for between 2014 and 2019.

  5. Jen Says:

    Interesting new development. Crewe to Chester and Warrington to Chester are being examined for the next phase of electrification but not the North Wales coast. Link here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/road-and-rail-projects-to-boost-local-and-regional-transport–2

    I wonder if, together with Slade Lane capacity improvements we could see an hourly service pattern of:
    North Wales-Altrincham-Manchester (diesel operating semi-fast east of Chester instead of proposed additional Greenbank-Stockport services)
    Chester-Altrincham-Manchester (all stops diesel as it is now)
    Chester-Warrington-Manchester Airport (electric)
    Chester-Warrington-Manchester (electric – additional service)

    The Crewe to Chester shuttle going over to electric operation would also free up a 2 car Sprinter to use elsewhere.

  6. Simon Barber Says:

    Thanks Jen, that is a very interesting (and positive) press release. We haven’t seen this level of interest in electrification for many years. My hunch is that Warrington-Chester is under consideration so that a Chester-West Yorkshire service can run – it would need to be electric to get a ‘slot’ on the very busy TransPennine route in the future timetable, I suspect. In the list of future schemes to be considered, I was surprised that Liverpool-Warrington-Manchester (which as you’ll know is really just Hunts Cross-Trafford Park) wasn’t included – a short stretch of plain line that is set to become a 4 trains per hour ‘diesel island’ before long.

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