Campaign to restore passenger services on the Middlewich Link Line

Discussion in 'Infrastructure & Stations' started by no commute yet, 10 Aug 2015.

  1. Andyjs247

    Andyjs247 Member

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    Dare I suggest there might be a use for some D78s at last, given the lack of anything else better suited and the slow line speeds?
     
  2. aformeruser

    aformeruser Veteran Member

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    One slight snag - to be of any use the service would have to continue on to the WCML from Sandbach to Crewe. While if it's an extension of the Manchester-Northwich services starting in December 17 then it'll need to be stock capable of at least 75mph due to the line speed being mainly 75mph between Navigation Road and Stockport and even higher between Stockport and Manchester.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    The 37/37A route is the highest subsided bus route in Cheshire East. If there was a rail service on the Middlewich branch introduced that service would see significant cuts. The origin of that route as effectively as a replacement for the withdrawn bus service. Most subsided bus routes in Cheshire East end around 18:30, if not earlier, the lack of a railway service for Middlewich is the reason it ends much later.
     
    Last edited: 14 Aug 2015
  3. no commute yet

    no commute yet Member

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    Thank you for so many great replies - I knew this was the place to ask my question.

    To answer a few points:

    We can drive, or get local buses, to nearby towns/villages to connect to rail. By the time you've walked to the bus stop, gone round the houses on the bus, allowed extra time for late bus/bus being unable to cut round bad traffic etc its quicker to drive. With our trains back we'd just have to walk, cycle or drive to our station. Middlewich is a very compact town where not many live more than a mile from the station, so, if you are physically able, walking is an easy option.

    The Virgin trains crawled through town but the freight trains don't. I'm surprised they're only doing 20mph. In fact I'll go so far as to say I think some of them are going very much faster than 20.

    I accept the issue about transport to college is a very local one. Greenbank and Crewe are where our our nearest 6th form colleges are and both are accessible from our line. The economic benefits to employment and the economy of additional passenger rail are well made out so I won't go in to those.

    While the issue of transport to education is a local one putting passenger trains back on our line isn't. This line connects the West Coast line to the Chester/Altrincham line. It will give Altrincham (Trafford - one of the TfGM authorities) a link to Crewe and allows more of South Manchester and Cheshire access to Manchester - particularly SW Manchester. The West Coast line from Crewe give access to NE Manchester (Piccadilly) from Cheshire but our line would also offer access to the SW of Manchester via tram from Altrincham. TfGM don't seem to have spotted this opportunity yet.

    There is land for the station. There is also ample space for car parks although, as most people live close to the site, it's likely many will walk.

    It won't have escaped the attention of such a well informed group that the Middlewich Rail Link has been left out of the Northern Powerhouse blueprint. As was mentioned above, Middlewich could do with two stations; one for freight, one for rail. There's land for both. There's no reason the track can't be shared so a push for more freight can't be the reason this line is being ignored. There are rumours the line is being kept reserved for the Royal Train which sometimes holes up here. Surely that can't be the reason for not putting passenger trains back.

    JCollins, you mentioned an new report - to update the 2009 consultants report. Do you have any more information? I understand the need to have accurate technical information but, with other projects getting funding that aren't as well scoped as Middlewich, it seems we are having to perfect our case before anyone considers it. I still can't understand why this project isn't just being greenlit and got on with.
     
  4. aformeruser

    aformeruser Veteran Member

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    MP Fiona Bruce recommended the Cheshire councils applied for money from the 'new stations fund' which DfT made available despite it not meeting the 'shovel ready' requirement. The Cheshire councils responded saying they weren't going to do that but instead would look to update the feasibility study. I've not heard anything since.
     
  5. stockport1

    stockport1 Member

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    A. Station at gadbrook park may improve the bcr
     
  6. aformeruser

    aformeruser Veteran Member

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    It could. However, the BCR was 5:1 in the last report so was already considerably higher than Borderlands or HS2. I previously questioned why a Rudheath/Gadbrook Park station wasn't included and was told that it would be a 'phase two option.'

    The previous report mentioned about the viability of a second Stockport-Northwich could be made higher if there were stations between Navigation Road and Stockport but commented on that being outside the scope of the report. However, now it appears a second hourly Stockport-Northwich service can be justified due to rising passenger numbers at existing stations.
     
  7. BigVern

    BigVern Member

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    Can I repeat my thoughts on the question of restoring passenger trains to Middlewich.
    Railways make money taking people to work.
    Middlewich has little local employment. A lot of Middlewich residents work in Greater Manchester. Most travel to work there by car.
    Some travel by train, from Sandbach or Holmes Chapel stations. The trains on this line are cheaper, faster and more pleasant than the Mid-Cheshire line from Northwich.
    Many would not switch if a new station opened in Middlewich with a DMU service to Manchester via Northwich.
    The obvious answer is to leave Middlewich to Nothwich as it is for freight etc., but rebuild and electrify the line from Sandbach to Middlewich.
    By extending the current hourly Piccadilly to Alderley Edge services to Middlewich there would be no requirement for new paths into Manchester, and just one or two further EMUs would be needed.
    But this is not what the councils or campaigners want to see. They want to provide links from Middlewich to other towns in Chester. The Middlewich Rail Link Campaign is part of MCRUA so is tied to the Mid-Cheshire line.
    As has been pointed out, both Cheshire councils have no money to spend on rail so nothing will happen. And Network Rail are not interested in any changes to the Middlewich line. As for TramTrains, oh dear, don't get me started.
     
  8. no commute yet

    no commute yet Member

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    Thanks for your post BigVern. Your suggestion solves the south part of the problem but we don't all work in Manchester - many of us in this region want to go to West to Chester, or North to South West Manchester/Salford for which neither Sandbach or Holmes Chapel - are any use. As a result, switching isn't an issue for most - it's about having a station that gets you where the current local stations can't - West and North West.

    Just as some Middlewich people go to Holmes Chapel or Sandbach for Crewe/Manchester so Holmes Chapel, Sandbach, Middlewich and Winsford (combined population c70,000) will be able to use Middlewich for Chester, North Wales and South Manchester/Salford (Media City etc.)

    I don't think it's fair to say the Holmes Chapel line would be cheaper. We haven't got our trains yet, let alone proposed fares.

    I can't agree with you about leaving the northern part of the line for freight. What other industry would so terribly underutilise its assets. Millions of pounds worth of infrastructure lying idle 23.5hrs a day. This line is fit and pretty much ready to go with passenger trains. The business case - written before thousands more huge detached commuter houses were built in the town- was already made out in 2009.

    I don't know whether the councils have money for rail. Perhaps someone can help me understand how reinstating passenger trains would usually be funded?

    BigVern, you say Network Rail has no interest in changes to the Middlewich Line. Are you able to say how you know? Is there a good reason they aren't? Seems to me they're missing an opportunity here.

    I totally agree about the trams
     
  9. Holly

    Holly Member

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    Electrifying Sandbach-Northwich(reverse)-Hartford Curve would create lots of new journey possibilities as well as new diversionary routes for electric trains and possibly create a few additional WCML paths.

    Add in a new station at Middlewich, possibly one at Gadbrook/Lostock and perhaps move Hartford station to Weaverham and more opportunities open up.
     
  10. 6Gman

    6Gman Established Member

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    Why on earth would Sandbach people drive to Middlewich to go to Chester via Northwich (change trains) and an amble through Delamere Forest on a Pacer ( :D ) when they can drive to Crewe for two trains per hour taking 20 minutes?
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Can you identify the "new journey possibilities" this would open up? They seem insubstantial to me ...
     
  11. Xenophon PCDGS

    Xenophon PCDGS Veteran Member

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    Noting the actual location of the railway station, is there any reason why Sandbach station cannot be renamed Elworth?
     
  12. aformeruser

    aformeruser Veteran Member

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    Bigvern- Problem with your idea is it requires a local train to reverse at Sandbach which would require resignalling a section of the WCML. Then you want electrification which would cost tens of millions, then you need a reversal facility at Middlewich, so the costs will be much higher which will lower the BCR. Also the feasibility report got a high BCR as a result of identifying high demand for London travel from Cheshire and Trafford and the reopening providing a connection to London services at Crewe, something your idea doesn`t achieve.
     
  13. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    Maybe we should take the Scottish approach? :p "Sandbach with Elworth" ;)
     
  14. The Planner

    The Planner Established Member

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    It isn't though, the very fact it has a low line speed is due to the lack of traffic so therefore it doesn't need to be maintained to such a high standard and therefore costs very little in the grand scheme of things. Increase that and the costs go up, albeit taken account of in BCRs.
     
  15. Holly

    Holly Member

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    Northwich and Greenbank to Liverpool and Crewe to Northwich and Greenbank school.
    Northwich, Greenbank and Acton Bridge to Manchester via Warrington which would restore commuter journey times to those achieved when first generation DMUs provided Northwich-Manchester service.
     
  16. Xenophon PCDGS

    Xenophon PCDGS Veteran Member

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    Are there spare paths to accommodate these services shown above?
     
  17. aformeruser

    aformeruser Veteran Member

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    Or the approach on other Manchester area lines and say Elworth for Sandbach.

    I think a lot of stations could be renamed to have more relevant names. For instance, I think Navigation Road would be better called Broadheath, especially as the original Broadheath station on the Timperley to Glazebrook line no longer existing.
     
  18. 6Gman

    6Gman Established Member

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    So what would the timetable look like? I can see some Altrincham, Knutsford, Northwich traffic for Liverpool if it was Altrincham-Liverpool. Doubt that Northwich & Greenbank alone would justify it. But if you're going to have Northwich - Liverpool AND Northwich - Warrington - Manchester just how many units and traincrew would you need?
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Probably not :(

    Bear in mind the following:

    1. Conflict at Hartford Jn (trains from Northwich would cross the Up Main on a flat crossing)
    2. Hartford Jn - Weaver Jn is already something of a pinch point
    3. Halton Jn - Ditton area is another pinch point especially if Halton Curve reopens (which is presumably likelier than Middlewich and Northwich - Hartford Jn)
    4. Flat junction at South Parkway can be an issue

    Train planning is not easy!
     
  19. no commute yet

    no commute yet Member

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  20. DelW

    DelW Member

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    Just in case anyone wants to know (but mainly for my own interest) I dug out the itinerary for this.

    It was UK Railtours "Peak Forest Ranger" on 3rd October 2009. Timings were 15 min for 4mi 70ch from Northwich South Junction to Middlewich (average 19.5mph) and 23 min for 3mi 60ch from Middlewich to Sandbach station (average 9.8mph). Total schedulred time from Northwich station to Sandbach station was exactly 40min for 9mi 5ch (average 13.6mph).

    Unusually I didn't note our actual timings, or the traction used, but records on this site show top & tail 67s and a saving of around 5 minutes on the schedule:
    http://www.sixbellsjunction.co.uk/00s/091003uk.htm
     
  21. The Planner

    The Planner Established Member

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    Thats my point though, you are not ready to go. The track is there but I seriously doubt it is in a state to have a decent frequency with higher speeds, it will need work.
     
  22. Ash Bridge

    Ash Bridge Established Member

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    If you wish to quote more than one post just press the multi quote button first, it is located to the right of the main quote button and changes colour to indicate it's in use,:)
     
  23. headshot119

    headshot119 Established Member

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    And all these years I've been opening the quote button in a new tab and the copying and pasting :oops:
     
  24. Ash Bridge

    Ash Bridge Established Member

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    Think that's about the only thing I can use on here reasonably well, as for most other features Iam still just a Rail UK Forums rookie :)
     
  25. Crossover

    Crossover Established Member

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    It took me a while too! Either that or just double post things

    To be fair, track on a heritage operation is probably in better condition than what the track on this line is
     
    Last edited: 18 Aug 2015
  26. CdBrux

    CdBrux Member

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    Quite possibly a silly question. Would a D78 viva rail modified stock (assuming it is passed for operation on the network) be an option for a shuttle service along the line without need to make expensive track upgrades? With a 'temporary' station at Middlewhich could such an experiment be made for reasonable costs to test the water for a more expensive scheme?
     
  27. Altfish

    Altfish Member

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    As someone whose local station is Navigation Road can I just say that that would be a daft idea! The station is predominantly in Altrincham (a small section at the northern end is in Timperley); if it were to be renamed at all (and I find the current name eminently sensible) it would be better as Altrincham East or North.
    Also the original Broadheath Station was on the Skelton Junction to Lymm, Warrington and Ditton Junction line. The disused station on the Glazebrook line is West Timperley.
     
  28. Holly

    Holly Member

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    Everything would have to be reworked.

    But from a macroscopic perspective there is spare capacity and reopening the Middlewich branch would add more. Electrification opens up all sort of possibilities for open access. Perhaps (for example, eventually) Blackpool-London via Northwich.

    Crewe-Middlewich-Northwich(reverse)-Greenbank-Acton Bridge-Warrington-Stations to Liverpool would be a popular route where few would ride end to end.

    It is possibly a need to rework all the paths is the reason why this project is stonewalled. Ostrichlike head in the sand is preferred over radical changes to the network - a direct consequence of denationalisation at firesale prices.
     
    Last edited: 19 Aug 2015
  29. glbotu

    glbotu Member

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    Ah, the D78: The Pacer of its generation.............

    Seriously, all the proposals I've heard for D78s at the moment are the sorts for which the Pacer program was originally for.

    The problem with a D78 shuttle is maintenance and stabling. Assuming these are extra DMUs running the service, where do they stable and where do they get maintained. Assuming the new Northern franchise holder isn't allowed them in the ITT (ok, so they can get them in addition to 120 new vehicles, but I can't see any of the bidders going above and beyond for Northern even with D78s). As such, you'll have to build a stabling and maintenance facility for a micro-fleet somewhere in the vicinity of the line. That's an enormous cost already.

    Even if D78s do run on Northern, I don't think it'll be along either lines North or South of Middlewich, so you'll still have to ECS a unit in for the shuttle, which is also an added cost. While Sandbach does have a platform 3, Northwich doesn't which means you'd need to either build a new platform there or re-do the trackwork to allow trains from the branch into the main station at Northwich (given an off-peak frequency of 1tph, you could probably get away with a reversal in the southern-most platform).

    Then you have the fact that it's a shuttle and people don't like changing trains (apparently) which makes it less useful and thus likely to generate less money, which also makes it less likely to get built.
     
  30. aformeruser

    aformeruser Veteran Member

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    There is a disused platform 3 at Northwich - it can be reopened by removing a wire fence and some concrete posts: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/SME/html/NRE_NWI/images/photos/800/o2666-0000032.jpg

    It's also properly signaled - freight trains use the line adjacent to the disused platform.

    Think about a journey from Altrincham to London. If you had an Altrincham-Middlewich-Crewe service that would allow Altrincham to London to be done via Middlewich with one change. If you propose a Northwich-Sandbach shuttle the same journey would require 3 changes, so it would be easier to go via Stockport or even Chester.

    The truncation of peak time Mid-Cheshire services at Stockport shows people prefer the direct services to Manchester. The direct services became overcrowded pretty much overnight as a result of the changes with the services starting/terminating at Stockport becoming more lightly loaded.
     
    Last edited: 19 Aug 2015

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