On Trains & Buses

Travel news, views & information from Europe & North America by an independent public transport user

A bottleneck awaiting removal

Posted on October 19, 2009

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A Saturday outing to the western end of the Yorkshire Dales had me travelling around by Lancaster and that meant my train journey was set to take in the striking bottleneck that is the Manchester Piccadilly-Oxford Road-Deansgate-Salford line. While I had admit that it may be a difficult and expensive thing to do but the restrictive approach to Manchester Piccadilly always amazes me. It is, I think, a consequence of history in that it is a hangover from a time when Manchester had more termini than it does now. For instance, what is now the Museum of Science and Technology was once the terminus for the Manchester and Liverpool railway right back at the start of the railway revolution. Then, there was Manchester Central and that train shed has become G-Mex. Manchester Victoria was the terminus of choice of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway company, a map of whose network still adorns its walls. These days it seems underused with its better western connections but it is a mile away from Piccadilly so I suppose that makes it less convenient for some though its situation next to the Arndale Centre is more central than that of Piccadilly.

What reminded me of all of this was a 20-30 minute delay that afflicted the 07:54 Northern stopping service to Preston. My plan was to use the 08:15 Transpennine Express departure that was to follow it but I tend to use what is at hand rather than sticking rigidly to plans; in fact, my train was retarded so as not to delay the progress of that 08:15. The cause of the disruption was a fright train in difficulty, not a good thing to have on the line between Piccadilly and Oxford Road. Though it may prove expensive and disruptive, I would like to see quadrification of the through line from Piccadilly. In reality, we are probably more likely to get an HS2 rather than this kind of meaningful advance. Small changes that don’t arouse much in the way of excitement are less likely when there is cash about than the shiny one.