SOME LOCAL CASE STUDIES
The development of rail services in this sector
of Manchester has been erratic, partly due to the PTA's energies
being concentrated on Metrolink. Hourly services offered at stations
such as Reddish North are unacceptable in an urban area.
The extensive rail network could
offer sufficient capacity to ensure all stations within Greater
Manchester are served by trains approximately every 15 minutes,
and on some routes more often, at frequencies comparable to Metrolink
The principle element involves restoring
rail capacity reduced over the last 30 years to permit operation
of inter-regional and local services on the same network.
Routes such as Manchester to Guide
Bridge would have four tracks restored from two at present, and
the strategic Hazel Grove chord increased to double track. Electrification
of local rail routes could follow.
Dual mode operation by rail and/or
Metrolink could be evaluated for busy routes such as to Belle
Vue, Bredbury, Reddish and Romiley provided inter-regional service
capacity from Sheffield, Chinley and New Mills is maintained via
other routes, either through Hazel Grove and Stockport or Guide
All local rail services would operate
on 30 minute cycles, where two or more could operate over the
same route providing trains at approximately 10 to 15 minute intervals.
Bus operators would be required to
provide all day services on core routes but these would integrate
with rail and Metrolink wherever possible, and accept inter-modal
Bus service contracts would be introduced
if operators did not provide PTE minimum service standards commercially
at specified fares within three months.
Railfuture cites Cambridge as a regional centre
where rail could play an increased role in regional travel as
well as a local plan promoting traffic reduction policies though
greater public transport use. Cambridge currently enjoys good
rail services on several routes, with six trains per hour to London
(over two routes) and most local services operating hourly.
Several relatively straightforward projects
could radically improve local public transport services, which
would have important ramifications for land use planning and transportation
A major upgrade to Cambridge station
to provide an additional through island platform (on existing
railway land) to accommodate additional train services.
The provision of major new stations
at Addenbrookes, to serve an employment centre set to expand from
6,000 to 20,000, and at Chesterton where a further park and ride
facility for both rail and bus travel would be established.
Re-opening the mothballed CambridgeSt
Ives rail line, a strategic link in the rail network, as part
of a local rail strategy, This could form part of Cam-Rail, with
local, regional and a few longer distance services. Housing development
for up to 10,000 people is planned at Oakington and the line also
serves the science and business park. (NB It is a major concern
that the SRA and Railtrack have apparently colluded in an attempt
to turn this strategic rail asset into a busway. This approach
will have little impact on solving the region's long-standing
Developing a network where virtually
all stations within a 15 mile radius are normally served approximately
half hourly, including more cross city services linking Cambridge
to St Ives and Huntingdon also Ely, March and Wisbech.
Integrating a good rail service with
local bus links, though requiring the local operator Stagecoach
to operate its new City Service, all day, every day and running
as many routes as practical to and from Cambridge rail station
and other local rail stations. (Stagecoach Cambus only operates
its daytime services to 7pm and other bus operators should be
given an opportunity to run all-day services on all routes commercially,
or have a contract regime imposed with three months, not 18 months.
Park and Ride buses have tended to play a dominant role in local
There has been extensive discussion over the
last year regarding the role of Merseyside PTE in setting franchise
service standards, relative to the SRA. This outline principle
has been agreed. Railfuture believes there is a strong case to
separate the Merseyrail Electrics Metro network entirely from
the national Railtrack network.
As Merseyside is a European Objective
One zone, significant EU funding could be available.
The PTE could own or lease the infrastructure
and then appoint a franchisee, similar to the Docklands Light
Railway, subject to Government financial support being available
to maintain the ageing tunnel infrastructure under the Mersey.
Another option is for Merseytravel to operate the network itself,
as in Tyne and Wear.
The Merseyrail concept was born out
of two studies, published in the mid-1960s. The Merseyside Area
Land Use Transportation StudyMALTS set out the regional
network that was initiated in the late 70s with the Liverpool
city-centre "Loop and Link". Another study proposed
the Liverpool Outer Loop.
The opportunity exists for a number
of smaller extensions to the existing third-rail electric system
including "out-of-county" extensions which could be
delivered within five years, rather than six-ten years as currently
envisaged, along with significant service improvements, particularly
at the peaks.
Inner city area stations at St James
and also Vauxhall could be progressed more rapidly.
Extending electrification in the
Wirral area from Bidston to Woodchurch is set out by the PTE (and
Railtrack in its 2000 Network Management Statement) as a priority.
Continuing from Woodchurch to Neston and Shotton could provide
a new regional interchange with the CreweChesterHolyhead
route, with new stations at Gayton, Little NestonMarshlands
Road and Burton Ness.
Some electric trains could continue
from Shotton to Wrexham with support from the Welsh Assembly.
Evaluation of this option has been undertaken by Ove-Arup and
Extending the "Electrics"
from Ellesmere Port to Helsby would complete the Cheshire network.
Some major extensions in Liverpool
could be delivered within seven years, providing Merseyrail links
to some relatively depressed inner-city districts.
Eventually the Merseyrail Electrics
could extend into the adjacent counties with a new link to Skelmersdale,
as well as to extending existing services to Wigan and Buscough
Additional funding could establish
a link from Central Station into Wapping Dock Tunnel, on to Edge
Hill and Wavertree Technology Park, with a new station serving
the University and the Toxteth district. This service could continue
over a freight line to Stanley, Anfield and Kirkdale and eventually
to Bootle, "Giro" and Aintree.
Longer term projects could include
restoring the abandoned railway, now part of the Liverpool Loop
Cycleway, from Hunts Cross to Gateacre, Broad Green, Knotty Ash,
Norris Green and Walton or Aintree.
Other Liverpool local routes could
be upgraded to Merseyrail type services such as the Lime St-Allerton
line, extending trains at half-hourly intervals to Widnes and
Warrington, also to Runcorn and Chester or Crewe. A new Wavertree
Station could be opened at Smithdown Road.
These objectives are all relatively straightforward
but require Government funding. If all of the above were completed
within the 10 Year time span, Liverpool and the Merseyside region
could enjoy an urban metro service comparable with any similar
city region in Europe. (These issues have been discussed with
The SRA has worked with the West Midlands PTECentroto
evaluate and expand rail capacity in the West Midlands. There
are many cases where the capacity on radial routes was reduced
by removing trackwork, such as cutting four tracks to two or taking
out loop lines. Also when signalling was "renewed",
line capacity was reduced by putting signals further apart. Lightly
used local routes could be upgraded to act as diversionary routes
for main line services. These few suggested improvements are largely
on the existing railway route.
Redditch to Birmingham corridor offers
considerable potential for growth in local rail traffic, as the
route of the very successful Cross City Line service introduced
in 1979. Rail has not been fully upgraded hence heavy road traffic
continues to use the parallel A38 route where a new by-pass has
been approved for Selly Oak.
The five mile section from Barnt
Green to Longbridge and Kings Norton could be restored to four
tracks throughout, enabling local trains to operate on separate
tracks from Cross Country expresses and provide more flexible
stopping arrangements for trains at Kings Norton and Northfield.
This would permit greater flexibility
to operate the proposed Frankley extension, as well as expanding
services to a local Park and Ride at Barnt Green.
At Kings Norton, relatively minor
track and station alterations, including electrifying and reopening
two disused platforms, are required for more flexible train operation
and additional capacity. This should include a facility for freight
trains to be "looped" to allow passenger services to
pass. A facility for terminating trains would also be useful.
Bus interchange facilities should
be improved at several stations.
Many other lines around the West Midlands offer
similar scope for improvement.
Lines radiating around Walsall are
under-utilised and with extensions to electrification, from Walsall
to Rugeley and, at least, Aldridge on the Sutton Park loop, this
important regional centre could enjoy more frequent local train
Upgrading Walsall station could offer
the potential for an hourly fast service to London via Birmingham.