Northern Hub in doubt due to overspends in S E England? ….

Posted on November 4th, 2011, by The Chairman

There were worrying words from Teresa Villiers, Rail Minister at Northern Rail’s Conference in Leeds on 20 October.

It seems apart from the Ordsall Curve, that the rest of the Northern Hub may be cut back or postponed due to overspends elsewhere (South East England – where else!!) It’s apparently “an expensive package”, though it’s less than half the amount being spent on London’s Kings Cross railway and underground stations alone.

Here’s the text that was released of her speech.

And here’s a press release sent out by Metro (West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority) on 26 October.

We know that public transport has to be sorted out in the London area. But doing it in such a way that investment in the rest of England is relatively minimal is hardly the way to make the regional ecomomies of England stronger to better contribute to the overall economy of the UK.

Remember ….

London to Reading is average speed 108 mph,
London to Cambridge is average speed 99 mph, and
Liverpool to Manchester (between 2 of England’s largest cities) has a paltry average of 34 mph, the same speed The Rocket ran on The Liverpool & Manchester Railway in 1830, that’s 181 years ago!

Time to start writing to MPs and Councillors if you support The Northern Hub!

Please leave a comment

  1. Edd Says:

    If anyone is writing to their MP it might be worth mentioning that in addition to the London Midland and London Overground cascades, there were supposed to be around 200 additional brand new diesel carriages in service with Northern, First Great Western and TransPennine Express by the end of 2012 for extra capacity. This was cancelled in favour of 319 cascades and a small 350 order and it’s now likely the 319s won’t be released from Thameslink until 2015. We’re expected to wait until then for the extra capacity.

    On the other hand Southern, who are due to get extra 377s from the Thameslink cascades, are being allowed to order additional units as they were supposed to have them in service in 2013 and can’t wait until 2015 for extra capacity.

    In view of the number of Pacers that will need replacing I can’t see why Northern can’t order extra diesel units for extra capacity now and use them as Pacer replacement once the extra EMUs arrive.

  2. Vince Chadwick Says:

    I really don’t see the sense in the Ordsall Curve. Even if platforms 15 and 16 are built at Piccadilly, the Picc – Deansgate corridor is horribly overcrowded even now, with trains waiting for paths into Oxfrod Rd and Piccadilly. How can the extra capacity for re-routed Trans Pennine Expreses etc be found on this corridor without 4-tracking the route (which is not proposed)?

  3. Andrew Macfarlane Says:


    The extra capacity will be found on the Deansgate-Piccadilly corridor partly by diverting the Liverpool-Scarborough/Newcastle services to run via Chat Moss, Victoria and Ashton. I think it is quite dishonest of Network Rail to claim that the Ordsall Chord will reduce the journey time between Leeds and Manchester by 14 minutes. Presumably they are comparing the present journey time between Leeds and Piccadilly via Guide Bridge with the expected journey time from Leeds to Victoria via Ashton, in other words they are comparing an apple with a pear.

  4. The Chairman Says:

    Hi, Vince!

    Extra capacity also comes through the extra platforms, 15 & 16 at Piccadilly, which in being used in conjunction with platforms 1-4 at Oxford Road and with the bay platform 5 removed to avoid conflicting moves will mean that the line between Piccadily and Oxford Road can be used more intensively.

  5. Peter Says:

    As someone who travels between the Mid Cheshire Line and Huddersfield on an occasional basis it makes no difference to me how quickly the train can get to Victoria from Huddersfield/Leeds if it goes to Victoria and then 10 minutes later arrives at Piccadilly.

    The initial summary for the Manchester Hub seemed to imply Piccadilly would lose two fast trains to Leeds. However, when I enquired about this the response was that the plan is for 6 trains per hour between Manchester and Leeds via Huddersfield. This will be achieved by sending al. The current Stalybridge and Dewsbury stops would also be removed. Then instead of the Victoria-Huddersfield stopper there will be two Piccadilly-Leeds semi-fasts every hour calling at Stalybridge and Dewsbury plus two of the four stations between Stalybridge and Dewsbury being served by each semi-fast but the calling pattern depending on consultations.

    I’d be surprised if I can get to and from Huddersfield any quicker given the above. However, the extra capacity given by 6 trains replacing 5 between Manchester and Huddersfield will be very welcome.

  6. David Miller Says:

    You could tell Network Rail what you think. They are “consulting” on

  7. Peter Says:

    Some of my previous comment seems have gone missing meaning it doesn’t make sense. It should say something like “This will be achieved by sending all current North TransPennine services to Victoria, with the 2 Airport services continuing to the Airport via Piccadilly.

    One thing worth taking in to consideration if you fill in the Network Rail survey is that the 319s won’t provide much extra capacity over the pairs of Sprinters used on some peak time services at present and the 319s can’t be used in multiple as the platforms aren’t long enough and they don’t have selective door opening.

  8. Andrew Macfarlane Says:


    Only the Ordsall Chord itself is currently committed expenditure by the Government (i.e. not platforms 15 and 16 at Piccadilly).

  9. Vince Chadwick Says:

    I am also concerned that the Chord as proposed will cut off the main line access to MoSI Liverpool Road and cut back their railway to a length unsuitable for running their steam trains (including the replica 1830 ‘Planet’).

    As volunteer loco crew on these trains I have a vested interest, but I also think that loss of the MoSI railway would be a blow to Manchester generally; the attraction is very popular with young and old and having an 1830 train running through the original 1830 terminus is something worth preserving.

  10. Mike Battman Says:

    I have grave reservations about moving trains from Piccadilly and upgrading Victoria again. With the trams in place, is there really a need for a Pic-Vic connection?
    The Piccadilly to Deansgate corridor is obviously a problem and needs addressing.
    Also, if HS2 happens (fingers crossed) Piccadilly will not be big/long enough and will either need a major re-build or another site found. This needs to be factored into any plans for The Northern Hub.

  11. Jen Says:

    Mike – the problem with the trams is they can’t carry large items of luggage and Airport trains don’t depart from Victoria. There’s also a ticketing issue, for instance, a Halifax to Manchester Airport ticket is not valid on Metrolink. The trams are also fairly crowded in the city centre and the new trams have less seats than the old ones. With hindsight Metrolink was the wrong solution and a Manchester S-Bahn system was the solution that should have been developed.

    Incidentally, Peter, I think you mean two of the four stations between Stalybridge and Huddersfield would be served by Manchester to Leeds semi-fasts.

  12. The Chairman Says:

    Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce & Industry has written to new Transport Secretary, Justine Greening, urging the full delivery of the Northern Hub Scheme as a single, unbroken scheme, i.e. not in piecemeal fashion.


  13. Mike Battman Says:

    The below quote is from my trade magazine New Civil Engineer

    “London is receiving nearly three times the spending per head on transport compared to the north and West Midlands, new expenditure figures released by the Treasury reveal.

    In the year 2010/2011 a total of £774 was spent on transport for every Londoner, while £285 per head was spent in the north of England and West Midlands combined, according to transport lobby and promotion group the Passenger Transport Executive Group (PTEG), which analysed the new figures.

    The figures revealed the imbalance between population and transport spending. London accounts for 15% of the UK’s population, but PTEG found that it receives 34% of overall government transport funding.

    Late last month, Department for Communities and Local Government figures showed that the vast majority of local authority transport funding in England was spent on transport projects in London, including Crossrail.”

  14. The Chairman Says:

    Here’s a link from this morning’s Insider North West – – following a speech at the Northern Hub Conference yesterday at which Louise Ellman said “If you look at the transport spending in different regions, nearly three times as much per head is invested in transport in London and the South East than is invested in the north.”

    Keep lobbying.

    Half a Hub will not be much use to anyone!!

  15. Mike Battman Says:

    The council leaders are also asking for government committment…

  16. Vince Chadwick Says:

    I saw while operating the MoSI train on Wednesday that masts have been erected on the Castlefield viaduct for electrification of the line to Liverpool. They look quite substantial for high voltage AC; more so than the old DC gantries on the Adjacent former Altrincham line.

  17. The Chairman Says:

    And now the Institute of Directors, too –

  18. The Chairman Says:

    …. and also now 250 businesses in Greater Manchester have written supporting the Northern Hub to the Secretary of State for Transport –

    Thinking back, could you have imagined 10 years ago businesses coming together to support rail-based infrastructure projects?

  19. The Chairman Says:

    Here’s further coverage from today’s Insider e-bulletin.

    Graham Botham, Network’s Rail Northern Hub Programme Sponsor provides an interesting blog accessible through this article –

  20. Bob Says:

    Regarding the proposed additional Greenbank-Stockport service, I think this could be a disaster if it’s poorly timetabled but very successful if the times fit. There’s been suggestions that a Stockport-Denton-Victoria service would be tagged on to this, I think this may be a good thing as it would hopefully mean there isn’t a lot of recovery time added in between Altrincham and Stockport and consequently doesn’t need to sit around waiting for a platform if the train arrives ‘early.’

    Based on the current timetable if the additional northbound train departed Greenbank at around 5 past the hour and misses out the smaller stations it should get to Stockport by 13 minutes to the hour, which would then connect to the TPE Manchester Airport service to give an arrival at Manchester Piccadilly just after the following hour, which would then give competitive times with the Chester-Altrincham-Manchester service. Southbound it could leave Stockport at 2 minutes to the hour and again give competitive timings and enough time to turn around at Greenbank but not so long that a crew are sat there for a long time.

  21. The Chairman Says:

    More support for the Northern Hub, this time from IPPR North –

    Including: –

    “Analysis by IPPR North shows almost half of major transport projects involving public funding benefit only London and the South East accounting for 84 per cent of planned spending.

    This is compared to 6 per cent in the North of England as a whole and only 0.04 per cent in the North East.

    The commission said the report also revealed that 87 per cent of the Northern Rail franchise’s rolling stock was manufactured in the 1980s or earlier but 64 per cent of South’s rolling stock and 53 per cent of the Sout East’s was manufactured in the 2000s.”

    Remember, the Northern Hub cost is estimated to cost £560m. They’re spending more that that on the Kings Cross Interchange in London alone!

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