Cheshire & Warrington Local Transport Body misses Mid Cheshire electrification and Tram/Train ….

Posted on January 6th, 2014, by The Chairman

Henry Brooks of Tatton Estate notes ….

“Interesting draft submission by the Cheshire & Warrington Local Transport Body.

Seems to support Mid Cheshire line electrification initially, but then reads as other lines?

No mention of tram/train or Metrolink that I can see.

Chairman, perhaps worthy of its own discussion topic or even a representation?

Henry Brooks

Tatton Estate”

(I’ve moved this to its own Post from where it was – The Chairman)

Please leave a comment

  1. Jen Says:

    Tatton Estate: They are supporting electrification of the other Chester-Manchester line (via Warrington) and the former CLC route between Manchester and Liverpool, there seems to be no mention of the Mid-Cheshire line at all.

  2. Simon Barber Says:

    They (Cheshire & Warrington Local Transport Body) are also supporting electrification of Crewe to Chester to allow HS2 classic-compatible trains to reach Chester. For local and suburban lines, there used to be a rule of thumb (and there may still be) that if the traffic demand justified a 4 trains per hour service then electrification was worth considering, but rarely before. The CLC ‘main line’ (Manchester-Warrington-Liverpool) has 4 trains per hour, so I’m not surprised that the LTB is raising the matter. In the case of ‘our’ CLC line, we need to continue to press for better services and we have a strong case but even the most optimistic amongst us would struggle to argue that we could fill 4 trains an hour. I wouldn’t infer from the linked document that the Local Transport Body doesn’t support our line. The document is a response to the HS2 plans consultation and our line is not planned to have any HS2 links, so it would not be relevant there. (Could we ask for classic-compatible services via Middlewich? A nice day-dream!)

  3. The Chairman Says:

    Hi, Simon!

    The Chester-Warrington line has two trains per hour and four an hour in the peak, same as Mid Cheshire.

    So why the different approach?

  4. Jen Says:

    While Chester to Warrington is a much shorter distance to electrify than Chester to Stockport, the latter would allow all current and proposed passenger services in CP5 to switch to electric operation (Middlewich services aren’t currently included in Network Rail’s plans.)

    Electrifying Chester to Warrington would allow an additional Chester-Warrington-Manchester to be electric but wouldn’t allow any existing services to switch unless the North Wales services are either cut at Chester or diverted via Altrincham.

  5. Simon Barber Says:

    Hi, Mr Chairman! The old yardstick I mentioned was four trains per hour each way (off-peak), or eight trains per hour total. This is the frequency that, for example, Preston-Blackpool, which is being electrified, enjoys. So on the basis of frequency, Chester-Warrington with two trains per hour isn’t close to being a candidate, and I’ll be surprised (but pleased) if the study does recommend that line for electrification. I understand the reason it was included in the study is the wish to re-introduce a Chester-Warrington-Manchester-Leeds service, which if it ran via Stalybridge, would soon be on an electric route all the way, except that Chester-Warrington leg. It may not run via Stalybridge, though, and if so the argument for Chester-Warrington is weak. Coming back to our line, I don’t think we’ll be credible if we argue now for Mid-Cheshire electrification, but we are very credible in arguing for more frequent services, which is the first step.

  6. Tatton Estate Says:

    Thank you for the new thread and all the posts.

    Agreed that an increase in frequency is key – and I think particularly relevant to the HS2 consultation on freed up capacity – if I understand correctly, to accommodate the increased West Coast Mainline frequency to Wilmslow a few years ago, the paths for the Mid Cheshire Line to Manchester Piccadilly via Stockport had to be cut. HS2 should be the opportunity to really ramp up frequency even more than can happen now therefore (without saying we should do nothing before HS2).

    On electrification, it would seem remiss not to lobby for it, but more feasible is probably tram-train technology on the Mid Cheshire Line. The Cheshire East consultation draft however makes no reference to that either, and neither does their draft local plan (where except for Crewe rail is almost entirely ignored).

    It would be great it the MCRUA could make these points (argued more knowledgeably!) repeatedly to Cheshire East and HS2 Ltd etc. whenever possible

  7. Jen Says:

    Simon Barber: Chester-Warrington is under consideration along with Selby-Hull as possible CP6 electrification schemes. The current North TPE electrification plans do not include Hull-Selby and the plan is for Hull to retain it’s direct Manchester service, unlike Middlesbrough and Scarborough.

    Preston to Blackpool may have 4 trains per hour but the Blackpool-York service is expected to remain as a diesel service and be extended to Scarborough to compensate for the loss of the Liverpool service from Scarborough.

    Wigan to Bolton has also been added to the North West electrification plans which has 3 trains per hour and I imagine only 2 trains per hour will switch to electric with the necessary service revisions. Stalybridge to Manchester also only had 2 trains per hour which could switch to electric when it was announced but with Stalybridge-York/Selby being announced the wires will be utilised a lot more than for local services now.

  8. Edd Says:

    One thing to remember regrading tram-trains is such a scheme would only provide local benefits whereas the proposed western Airport link have benefits outside the immediate local area. At the moment it seems the tram-train scheme has little support from the parties who would need to fund the scheme and there’s no urgency on any tram-train plans in the Manchester area, even the preferred Marple scheme may be more than 5 years away. On the other hand Network Rail see a western Airport link as a possible project for post-2019.

  9. Mike Battman Says:

    Being pessimistic (and realistic) I suspect that the mid-Cheshire line is well down the list of lines to be electrified. Just in the north-west I can think of lines that will be ahead of it in the queue…
    Calder Valley line (ie Victoria to Bradford via Rochdale)
    Windermere branch (So that diesel trains aren’t working 9/10th of their journey under the ‘wires’)

  10. Simon Barber Says:

    I too think that the airport western link is the best long-term hope for our line. It would introduce a new fast route to Manchester which would deliver much faster services to Knutsford and beyond, and it would increase the likelihood of through services off the mid-Cheshire line for which the airport stop and availability of Manchester paths would be an attraction. I admit I’m not a big fan of tram-train for the mid-Cheshire. Manchester journeys would be slow (think of the current tram journey time to Altrincham and add on to that), and nowhere west of Knutsford would benefit. It’s rare (maybe unprecedented) to conduct a successful campaign for electrification for a line that presently has only one train per off-peak hour each way. Manchester-Warrington-Liverpool isn’t even an electrification candidate and it has four trains per off-peak hour each way! Let’s concentrate our energies on something more immediate, which is increased frequency, and then we can build on that.

  11. Vince Chadwick Says:

    Beware of trams! They have already removed our line’s direct route into Manchester and as Edd says they only ‘benefit’ local users (I even question that – electric trains have more passenger capacity and are faster and more comfortable than the trams which replaced them), but at the cost (in this case) of removing a useful piece of the local 25kV electrified railway infrastructure.

    If low voltage DC electrification for trams were to be extended beyond Altrincham, it would scupper any chance of ‘real’ electrification of our line, as part of the national network. It might also mitigate against the Airport – Mobberley link being built as a 25kV northern route to WCML from the Airport.

  12. Mike Battman Says:

    Vincent: May I jump to the defence of the trams.

    OK, I’m lucky, living near Navigation Road I get the best (worst) of both systems. In my opinion the tram has been a step change from the old 25kV (and before that 1500V) electrics we used to have. Modern electrics may well have more passenger capacity and be more comfortable, but they are not faster when the vehicle has to stop every ¾ mile or so.

    Comfort is also not that essential when you are normally only on the vehicle for about 20-minutes. Capacity of a 3 or 4 carriage electric may be greater but it used to be a 15-minute service, we now have a 6-minute service, a 150% increase which more than compensates for capacity.

    You also omit to mention the penetration into the city that the trams have afforded passengers. Manchester shoppers, theatre goers, etc. had to walk from Knott Mill, Oxford Road or Piccadilly; not anymore, the trams drop you off centrally. Trips to York, Leeds and Newcastle were a train to Knott Mill followed by a mile walk up Deansgate to Victoria; even a trip to Bury would involve the hike.

    Would they benefit the Mid Cheshire line? Probably not unless it was tram-train. I believe another significant restriction is that most of the Mid Cheshire line is not in Greater Manchester and is therefore “off the radar”.

  13. Vince Chadwick Says:

    Mike – electric trains today are vastly superior in acceleration and all other respects to the those old first generation 25kV units (and the 1500vDC ones before that – which I used to go to school on and which accelerated better than the 25kV units!).

    Yes, trams take to the streets in Manchester, but if that 6 minute (or more frequent) service operated up Deansgate or along Oxford Rd it would be little pain to hop off the train and onto the tram once in the city.

    The down side is Metrolink has removed a useful section of 25kV railway and our trains now have to make that diversion across south Manchester and suffer a single line section through Navigation Rd (and near Cheadle). But that’s history and probably won’t be undone (except maybe at Cheadle…).

    However, the future is something we do need to consider. I think it’s important to be aware that tram-spread south of Altrincham could compromise the usefulness of our line, especially regarding any northern WCML link to the Airport or 25kV trains via Middlewich. In other words would it not be better to have it playing a useful role in a national network, perhaps with intra-regional through trains, rather than being limited by its local-only technology to being a mere local transit system?

  14. Mike Battman Says:

    Vince
    “Electric trains today are vastly superior in acceleration and all other respects to the those old first generation 25kV units (and the 1500vDC ones before that – which I used to go to school on and which accelerated better than the 25kV units!).”

    Agreed, but the trams are fleet of foot too.

    “Yes, trams take to the streets in Manchester, but if that 6 minute (or more frequent) service operated up Deansgate or along Oxford Rd it would be little pain to hop off the train and onto the tram once in the city.”

    Using the same logic it is surely just as easy to do the change from heavy rail to tram at Altrincham.

    “The down side is Metrolink has removed a useful section of 25kV railway and our trains now have to make that diversion across south Manchester and suffer a single line section through Navigation Rd (and near Cheadle). But that’s history and probably won’t be undone (except maybe at Cheadle…).”

    I can’t disagree with the diversion section of that statement, but I refer to my earlier comment about changing at Altrincham.

    “However, the future is something we do need to consider. I think it’s important to be aware that tram-spread south of Altrincham could compromise the usefulness of our line, especially regarding any northern WCML link to the Airport or 25kV trains via Middlewich. In other words would it not be better to have it playing a useful role in a national network, perhaps with intra-regional through trains, rather than being limited by its local-only technology to being a mere local transit system?”
    Agreed, hence my statement about only Tram-Train south of Altrincham. The northern WCML will surely be superceded by HS2’s link to Wigan

  15. Simon Barber Says:

    Like Vince I can remember the pre-1971 DC electrics on the Altrincham line, but I wasn’t a commuter on them. Mike says that ‘the trams are fleet of foot too’. Sorry Mike, I disagree! I have a prized copy of the LMR 1964-5 timetable, in which table 99 (“Manchester to Altrincham and Bowdon”!) shows that the standard journey time from Oxford Road to Altrincham by DC electric was 20 minutes, calling at all 9 intermediate stations. The journey time had to be lengthened in 1971 because the AC electrics couldn’t match it, and the trams can’t match it either.

    Delving deeper, in the evening peak hour (5pm-6pm), there were seven departures from Oxford Road to Altrincham, plus two more from Manchester Central to Altrincham (the Mid-Cheshire line trains), a total of nine trains in the hour which is much the same frequency as trams today. The Mid-Cheshire line trains took 15 minutes from Altrincham to Central, though it was 20 minutes in the rush hour because of the density of the electric service with which they shared the line. I think we lost more than we gained there.

  16. Vince Chadwick Says:

    Simon, that was my point – those old electrics, with their high power to weight ratio (about 1,200hp for 3 coaches) were fast and frequent, as would be a modern EMU. It was only those first generation AC units which were slow in both speed and acceleration, even when shortened to 3 coaches from their original 4 (they must have been real snails when new!).

    Not only did we lose more than we gained in sheer passenger carrying capability and comfort, the railway network lost a chunk of modern 25kV railway (the loss of the 3rd rail Bury line was perhaps less of a blow to the network).

  17. Vince Chadwick Says:

    Am I alone in finding posting here a real test of my ‘old git’ eyes? The text is tiny, and invariably when I hit the ‘submit’ button there’s something mis-typed I can then see in the (larger text) message. Can I suggest the text be made bigger when typing, and / or there should be an edit facility while the message is awaiting moderation?

    My last post, for instance, should read ‘power to weight ratio’, not ‘power to weight ration’.

  18. Edd Says:

    In response to Vince Chadwick the text is very small. As a work around try pressing Ctrl and the + sign three times simultaneously, which will make the text appear larger. To make the text to return to the normal size press Ctrl and the 0 button simultaneously.

Leave a Comment

*