Examination of Witnesses (Questions 220-229)|
WEDNESDAY 19 JUNE 2002
220. Do you believe you can get some more capacity
out of Manchester Piccadilly?
(Mr Clarke) The current situation faced at Manchester
Piccadilly is with the through routes, which are the principal
ones we are talking about through platforms 13 and 14. At the
peak times they are at capacity in terms of the number of trains
we run through there.
221. So even with total co-operation between
all the operators, you do not think you can get any more capacity
(Mr Clarke) No, not in terms of putting additional
trains through. As I said in the answer I gave earlier, if you
increase the capacity of the trains themselves, that is longer
trains which occupy each slot on the network, yes, you can increase
222. So you think the key there would be longer
(Mr Clarke) If you want a rapid increase in the capacity
in that part of the network, the obvious answer is greater capacity
of trains at peak times.
223. What about achieving these improvements
in the amount of freight moved around in the North of England?
Particularly on the Trans-Pennine routes we could take some very
heavy lorries off the roads if it worked. Manchester Piccadilly,
one train an hour for freight. Any chance of improving that or
of getting freight round Manchester without going through? It
seems crazy that you have those two very congested platforms at
Piccadilly and they have to take the freight as well.
(Mr Clarke) The freight route into Manchester, into
Trafford Park, is very heavily used overnight. A large amount
of traffic uses the available infrastructure in the network at
times when it is not required for passenger transport. At the
moment we run everything which is required through there from
the freight operating companies. Yes, there are issues about the
flexibility of the system but at the moment that is not constraining
the routing of freight.
224. What about bringing some more of it round
through the North of Manchester, the old Victoria station? It
is cumbersome to shunt passenger trains, but it is not that cumbersome
to shunt freight, is it?
(Mr Clarke) No, but the issue with the alternative
route is that the principal freight route is into the yard at
Trafford Park. The approach from the other direction, from Manchester,
is technically available, but it entails a great deal of shunting
to do it and therefore the prime route is through Manchester Piccadilly
from the West Coast Mainline link to Manchester. There is the
addition as well that a lot of it is electrified.
225. Is there not a strong argument for trying
to improve the amount of freight that can be handled there?
(Mr Clarke) Yes.
226. So when are you going to do something about
(Mr Clarke) I am saying that you would need infrastructure
changes to do that, which needs the SRA's view of how it wants
to improve the infrastructure in the area.
227. How significant are those infrastructure
changes? I should have thought you could get a huge amount of
trans-Pennine traffic off the roads for very small infrastructure
(Mr Clarke) The best thing to do would be to try to
give you a response to that from outside.
Chairman: What we should like from you, Mr Armitt,
is some very short note which at least assesses your view of the
problems around Manchester. They have been raised more than once,
not just in terms of freight but in terms of extra passenger paths.
If we could have a very short note on that basis it would be helpful?
228. We did hear very clear evidence earlier
this afternoon from one of the Train Operating Companies that
the only satisfactory way to get a real increase in East-West
trans-Pennine movement of freight, was through the Woodhead Tunnel,
so we would welcome your view on that.
(Mr Armitt) I can well believe that the Train Operating
Companies would seek more infrastructure, changed infrastructure
and expenditure on enhancing the infrastructure to enable freight
to be carried. If all we do is just put more freight on the existing
network, then we would simply create other problems. If you want
more infrastructure and additional infrastructure, it will have
to be assessed and gauged for its cost benefit and assessed for
its overall impacts by the SRA and the SRA will then make those
decisions across the network and tell us what they would like
us to do.
229. Will you do us a note?
(Mr Armitt) We can do you a note on our view of the
issues surrounding Manchester and freight.
Chairman: We should just like to have some idea
of where you are coming from because we may have a good idea of
where you are going to. May I say thank you very much gentlemen,
you have been very helpful?