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Manchester Hub … the implications for Walkden

March 1, 2010

Network Rail’s Manchester Hub report proposes massive investment in Manchester’s railway infrastructure torevolutionise many aspects of travelling in and through the city. The proposal’s headline ideas are the building of a new line at Ordsall which would allow trains to run from Victoria to Salford Central then to Deansgate, Oxford Road and Piccadilly. Network Rail propose a high-frequency service along this route which would undoubtedly simply cross-city connections.

With the new track in place Network Rail propose re-routing many TransPennine Express services to Victoria instead of Piccadilly, and also running Calder Valley trains (from Rochdale, Halifax etc) west of Victoria and around the new Ordsall link to Piccadilly.

There are numerous other improvements in the proposals including extra platforms at Piccadilly, more electrification, more passing loops and 4-tracking, and line speed improvements.

For Walkden rail users we believe the proposals are generally good for us even though they don’t specifically offer much direct investment on our route. The increased importance of Victoria will mean it receives serious modernisation work which will undoubtedly be welcome.
The new city loop (Victoria round to Piccadilly via Ordsall) should also help cross-city transfers, and having TransPennine Express trains at Victoria should mean easier connections to Liverpool, Leeds, York and Newcastle.

The report proposes 3 trains an hour (in each direction) along the Walkden line instead of the current 2, with one of them only stopping at “principal” stations: naturally we hope these include Walkden.
There is also talk of through trains to destinations further afield “such as Bradford”.

On the debit side it appears that trains will only run west as far as Kirkby or Wigan: Southport trains will be diverted along a different route between Manchester and Wigan. There are also no plans to electrify our line, leaving it as something of an island in a generally electrified area of the network. We hope that our line’s role as a diversionary route will be reason for a re-think on this particular question as prospect of still riding in Pacers in 2020 is not a pleasant one !

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