Manchester / Northern Hub – Mid-Cheshire features strongly ….

Posted on February 16th, 2010, by The Chairman

Network Rail today announced their proposals following the completion of “The Manchester Hub” study into providing faster, more frequent and more reliable journeys right the way across northern England.

The study was established at the request of the then minister, following detailed work carried out by The Northern Way, the association of Regional Development Agencies in northern England showed rail travel in the north to be just about the worst in Britain, exacerbated by the chronic congestion surrounding Manchester itself.

Details of Network Rail’s proposals are available here.

Importantly for us, our Mid-Cheshire Line features strongly.

In summary Network Rail state:
“Over the next 20 years we want to change the way people travel in the North. We want rail to be the first choice of passengers, business and freight.
“Our proposals will put the infrastructure in place to allow:
– 700 more trains to run between the major towns and cities in the North every day
– 3.5m more passengers every year
– quicker journey times
– £530m of targeted investment to help the North continue to thrive.

The aspirations for our area include:
– Northwich could get twice as many trains throughout the day, with a train to Manchester every 30 minutes
– Knutsford could see two trains every hour, one a semi-fast service to Manchester throughout the day
– Altrincham could get more trains across Manchester, and
– Chester to benefit from a train every half an hour to and from Manchester throughout the day (via Warrington), as well as trains running through to Leeds and Manchester Airport, this also providing an opportunity for these trains to run from Manchester through Chester and beyond to North Wales.

The documents today published by Network Rail will take some reading!

The Plan Summary – “The Northern Hub – transforming rail in the North” is 3.08Mb, and
The Technical Study – “Manchester Hub Rail Study” is 3.99Mb
– both downloadable through the link above.

We’ll be watching very carefully, looking to provide impetus to get these improvements as soon as possible.

Many thanks to our committee member Roy Beacham, who instigated and co-ordinated passenger counts on the line, which demonstrated train usage was 30-50% more than official estimates.

Please leave a comment

  1. Mike Battman Says:

    I’ve just had a quick look through the document and can’t see anything about the Middlewich Branch or provision of a station at Baguley.

  2. The Chairman Says:

    Hi, Mike!

    The Manchester Hub / Northern Hub study is concentrated on relieving the congestion and substantially improving transit times between city regions in Northern England.

    As such, I wouldn’t expect to see the Middlewich Branch mentioned, as using it wouldn’t relieve rail congestion in the Manchester area.

    There is potentially good news re Middlewich though, as there is a discussion in the report about one of the services that currently arrives from Manchester and terminates at Crewe continuing on instead to Stoke. This frees up platform capacity at Crewe which provides a greater opportunity for a service to/from the Mid-Cheshire Line via Middlewich.

    Indeed, the Middlewich line is shown on one of the diagrams in the report.

    I didn’t see anything about Baguley, though.

  3. Mike Battman Says:

    Thanks for the reply!

    I just felt that in the report, when they spoke of…
    “- Northwich could get twice as many trains throughout the day, with a train to Manchester every 30 minutes
    – Knutsford could see two trains every hour, one a semi-fast service to Manchester throughout the day”
    …it would have been relatively easy to give a reference to the Middlewich branch – ideally that some or all of the additional trains could run via Sandbach and Middlewich.

    As a matter of interest, are MCRUA planning to submit a formal response to the report?

  4. Steve Says:

    They don’t seem to have mentioned a westerly Airport link either. If they built it this would help with congestion through Castlefield as Liverpool to Manchester Airport could go via Runcorn and Northwich and North Wales to Manchester Airport could go via Northwich.

  5. The Chairman Says:

    Hi, Mike & Steve!

    Thanks for your interest.

    Mike – We’ll be considering the report soonish, then be deciding whether to submit a response. I’m sure that if we can see it could influence the outcome, we will submit a formal response.

    Steve – We know they looked at the Western Link in some detail. It was mentioned at meetings a number of us went to.

    We know the Western Link could bring a lot of benefits in terms of reducing congrestion, and indeed Manchester Airport station was designed in such a way as to facilitate a western link. We also know the cost of the link would be very high with the tunnel that would be required under the Cargo Centre and the taxiways and apron in front of Terminal 2. I suspect these costs will have made it difficult to put a good business case together. We’ll see if we can get more information at further “Northern Hub” meetings we are invited to.

  6. Karen Says:

    What about Holmes Chapel? The service is really poor.

    We may have 2 trains an hour in the day, but they are too close together, and because 1 goes via the airport and stays a long time, you may just as well say we have 1 train an hour.

    The frequency is terrible. There should be more options.

    It’s been really awful since the new Virgin services ran more often and our local service has suffered.

  7. Shelia Says:

    I can understand why Karen isn’t happy with the Holmes Chapel rail service, but if you compare Holmes Chapel with larger towns then Holmes Chapel has a much better service – two trains an hour to Crewe and the delay at Manchester Airport is only on northbound trains meaning you can say there are two trains and hour from Manchester to Crewe.

    Even though the northbound services from Holmes Chapel are not timed well having two helps in the event of cancellations and overcrowding.

    For those reasons I don’t think it’s right to look at extra Holmes Chapel services during the day until other stations like Knutsford, Northwich, Hartford and Winsford get better services.

  8. Mike Battman Says:

    I note that the Piccadilly to Victoria ‘Ordsall Link’ has been given the go ahead, which has to be good news.

    What I don’t understand is the quotes of an additional ‘700 train services through the region each day’.

    How can that be, if I understand correctly this bit of line will enable trains to go from Piccadilly, through Oxford Road via the Castlefield Link to get to Victoria. Isn’t there already an overcrowding problem on the section between Piccadilly and Oxford Road?

    Also how does this work ‘Sources say it will cut journey times between Manchester and Leeds by 14 minutes. Average journey times in the region will be cut by 30 minutes’.

    Now maybe I’m misunderstanding how this will work, but many of the Mancester to Leeds services start in Liverpool, Blackpool or even further north. To take advantage of this new stretch of line they will have to reverse at Piccadilly (or Oxford Road and cut out Piccadilly) and retrace their route?? OK, the ones from Manchester Airport will now be able to avoid the reversal, but a 14-minute saving?

    Average journey times cut by 30-minutes??? I’d love to have that explained.

    Don’t get me wrong, I welcome any addition to our rail system, but this seems to be being oversold.

  9. The Chairman Says:

    Here’s GMITA’s Budget boost for Northern Hub rail plans press release following yesterday’s Budget.

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