Hooton station platform numbering

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pdeaves

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As I understand it, the (currently) disused platform outside the station building was number 2, and former 3-5 are now 1-3, respectively.

Is someone able to advise when the platforms were renumbered, please?

Thanks!
 
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LNW-GW Joint

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My recollection, for what it's worth, is that Hooton had 7 platform faces in the early BR period.
I think the fast lines (next to the station building) were 2/3, the slow lines were 4/5, and platforms 6/7 (loops) were for the West Kirby line and parcels.
P1 was a south-facing bay on the opposite side of P2, used mainly for Helsby shuttles.

The layout was remodelled/shrunk in 1969 with the slow lines lifted south of Hooton to Ledsham Jn, and the fast lines north of Hooton to Rock Ferry, hence the dog-leg south of the station.
The up fast became a headshunt for reversing freight trains between the Chester and Helsby lines (mainly to Stanlow).
The down fast was truncated as a south-facing bay (now P1).
So I think that marked the point when platforms were renumbered.

It's a great pity that the old up fast can't be reinstated as the main southbound platform today.
It has a decent canopy and feels like a proper station.
It would also have made for a simpler new footbridge as one of the spans would not have been needed (too late now!).

This site has some interesting photos, showing the old numbering.
http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/h/hooton/
 

pdeaves

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Thanks, that certainly pinpoints when use dropped to fewer than seven platforms. Can anyone say with certainty when they were actually renumbered (which is not necessarily at the same time; look at Oban for example!).
 

8H

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My recollection, for what it's worth, is that Hooton had 7 platform faces in the early BR period.
I think the fast lines (next to the station building) were 2/3, the slow lines were 4/5, and platforms 6/7 (loops) were for the West Kirby line and parcels.
P1 was a south-facing bay on the opposite side of P2, used mainly for Helsby shuttles.

The layout was remodelled/shrunk in 1969 with the slow lines lifted south of Hooton to Ledsham Jn, and the fast lines north of Hooton to Rock Ferry, hence the dog-leg south of the station.
The up fast became a headshunt for reversing freight trains between the Chester and Helsby lines (mainly to Stanlow).
The down fast was truncated as a south-facing bay (now P1).
So I think that marked the point when platforms were renumbered.

It's a great pity that the old up fast can't be reinstated as the main southbound platform today.
It has a decent canopy and feels like a proper station.
It would also have made for a simpler new footbridge as one of the spans would not have been needed (too late now!).

This site has some interesting photos, showing the old numbering.
http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/h/hooton/

I think we do need some judicious fast lines reinstatement between Rock Ferry and the newly obstructive M53 overbridge beyond Hooton as it is the only route between Liverpool and Birkenhead to Chester and North Wales that could offer fast inter urban journey times and help tackle the terrible traffic.

Halton Curve will be slow too. We need people out of cars and competitive journey times will do that

The old Birkenhead Paddington trains zipped along between Woodside and Chester with just a couple of calls, unlike the endless all stations services of today albeit with their much superior frequency.
 

Polarbear

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I think we do need some judicious fast lines reinstatement between Rock Ferry and the newly obstructive M53 overbridge beyond Hooton as it is the only route between Liverpool and Birkenhead to Chester and North Wales that could offer fast inter urban journey times and help tackle the terrible traffic.

Halton Curve will be slow too. We need people out of cars and competitive journey times will do that

The old Birkenhead Paddington trains zipped along between Woodside and Chester with just a couple of calls, unlike the endless all stations services of today albeit with their much superior frequency.

Fully agree about the need for a faster service along the Chester to Liverpool corridor. Unfortunately, Merseyrail don't seem to have much interest in doing anything like this. A shame as I do think there's a lot of untapped potential.

The obstructive bridge south of Hooton is the A550 by the way, not the M53 which crosses (unobstructed) the line just north of Hooton.
 

8H

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Fully agree about the need for a faster service along the Chester to Liverpool corridor. Unfortunately, Merseyrail don't seem to have much interest in doing anything like this. A shame as I do think there's a lot of untapped potential.

The obstructive bridge south of Hooton is the A550 by the way, not the M53 which crosses (unobstructed) the line just north of Hooton.

Correct !! All these roads look the same to me :D
 

David Emmott

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Surely fast lines north of Hooton will only have to feed into the Merseyrail loop after Hamilton Square/James Street. So not really appropriate for express services to North Wales etc. Why will the Halton curve make for a slower journey (especially if it is electrified)?

(Plus, the advantage of trains via Liverpool S Parkway and Runcorn is that they will serve the large population around both those points, which can't be much smaller if at all than that on the Wirral.) If fast/limited stop trains are needed anywhere on Merseyrail the Southport line has at least as good a case.
 
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LNW-GW Joint

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Why will the Halton curve make for a slower journey (especially if it is electrified)?

It's a poor quality branch line with even poorer junctions at each end.
At the southern end it feeds directly onto the Weaver viaduct (on an embankment).
At the northern end the cant is all wrong for the Weaver Jn-Runcorn line.
People expecting a faster journey via Runcorn are going to be disappointed.
More interesting, yes. Faster, no, especially if it turns into a stopper, which is the local expectation.
 

David Emmott

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It's a poor quality branch line with even poorer junctions at each end.
At the southern end it feeds directly onto the Weaver viaduct (on an embankment).
At the northern end the cant is all wrong for the Weaver Jn-Runcorn line.
People expecting a faster journey via Runcorn are going to be disappointed.
More interesting, yes. Faster, no, especially if it turns into a stopper, which is the local expectation.

It will seem faster though surely, with fewer stops? If most services are Lime Street - Parkway - Runcorn - Frodsham - Helsby - Chester, on present timings that is 20 minutes or less to Runcorn; 20 from Frodsham to Chester: can Runcorn to Frodsham take much more than 5? That is much the same as via Birkenhead.
 

8H

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Surely fast lines north of Hooton will only have to feed into the Merseyrail loop after Hamilton Square/James Street. So not really appropriate for express services to North Wales etc. Why will the Halton curve make for a slower journey (especially if it is electrified)?

(Plus, the advantage of trains via Liverpool S Parkway and Runcorn is that they will serve the large population around both those points, which can't be much smaller if at all than that on the Wirral.) If fast/limited stop trains are needed anywhere on Merseyrail the Southport line has at least as good a case.

Slow after Rock Ferry indeed as you suggest being into the all stations Wirral Loop shortly thereafter, however you could save a decent slice of time going fast to Chester from Rock Ferry, with just the odd stop or no stop.

The big issue which it would resolve is a chance of beating the car into Chester and North Wales which presently is simply not achievable, and which as LNWGW points out is not remotely on offer from the Halton Curve.

The Chester Liverpool services via Runcorn and Frodsham took an hour in 1967 for example.
 
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Gareth

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I think Liverpool-Chester via the Halton Curve is currently slated to be about the same as via the Wirral Line. That's on the assumption that it doesn't stop at Mossley Hill or West Allerton. The main benefit of the Halton Curve is not so much linking Central Liverpool with Chester but linking South Liverpool with Chester.

I can't see fast lines being reinstated on the Wirral Line. Any fast service would eat into the demand of the stopping services meaning intermediate stations may end up with less service. Merseytravel did look at this fairly recently and dismissed it. Certainly if you were only looking at an hourly fast train then justifying the four-tracking and additional infrastrucutre could be difficult.
 
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8H

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I think Liverpool-Chester via the Halton Curve is currently slated to be about the same as via the Wirral Line. That's on the assumption that it doesn't stop at Mossley Hill or West Allerton. The main benefit of the Halton Curve is not so much linking Central Liverpool with Chester but linking South Liverpool with Chester.

I can't see fast lines being reinstated on the Wirral Line. Any fast service would eat into the demand of the stopping services meaning intermediate stations may end up with less service. Merseytravel did look at this fairly recently and dismissed it. Certainly if you were only looking at an hourly fast train then justifying the four-tracking and additional infrastrucutre could be difficult.

It's an archetypal "PTE" problem, they are excellent supporters and providers of local transport and stopper type services. You can't knock their work.

However this particular problem is getting from the centre of the Mersey conurbation to Chester and North Wales quickly. Are we really saying leave that to the motorist? We have been trying this since 1967 !!

Any scheme with fast tracks reinstated presents problems but offers a big potential modal shift and solves some big environmental traffic problems too.

If you get a share of the car traffic that has been growing like stink since the 1960's by offering fast journeys everybody will win.

After all you don't expect every train from Victoria and London Bridge to East Croydon to take 30 minutes or more.
 

David Emmott

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Merseyrail essentially provides a Metro style service and as has been pointed out fast services on the same tracks will disrupt this. Haven't LU realised this on the Metropolitan Line? Unless I've got it wrong I believe there are many fewer fast services even as far as Amersham.
The need for a mainline connection between Liverpool and Chester, as well as North Wales, has been apparent for a long time. The Halton curve will make that easier, if not quicker. And it will be much quicker from South Liverpool which is where a high proportion of car journeys must originate. 30 minutes or so from Parkway compared to 15 minutes on the Northern Line to Central + 10 minutes change time + 45 minutes = 70 minutes.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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It will seem faster though surely, with fewer stops? If most services are Lime Street - Parkway - Runcorn - Frodsham - Helsby - Chester, on present timings that is 20 minutes or less to Runcorn; 20 from Frodsham to Chester: can Runcorn to Frodsham take much more than 5? That is much the same as via Birkenhead.

The timing of the summer SO parly service is 21 minutes Chester-Runcorn (non-stop), so yes, it might be the same as via Hooton.
But it won't be "express".
I expect it will be routed slow line at Speke (to avoid clogging up CLC trains using Allerton Jn), and back at Wavertree.
That happens to an LM Birmingham service already, adding more time for the journey.
 

Ianno87

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If you *really* wanted faster Chester service, you could probably get them at a fraction of the price by building an intermediate turnback somewhere, with an "inner" stopping service as far as here, and Chester services running fast from Rock Ferry to this location, and then all stations thereafter.

The cost of 4 tracks would be astronomical for the "benefit" of 2-4 express services per hour at PTE fare levels...
 

Gareth

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It's an archetypal "PTE" problem, they are excellent supporters and providers of local transport and stopper type services. You can't knock their work.

However this particular problem is getting from the centre of the Mersey conurbation to Chester and North Wales quickly. Are we really saying leave that to the motorist? We have been trying this since 1967 !!

Any scheme with fast tracks reinstated presents problems but offers a big potential modal shift and solves some big environmental traffic problems too.

If you get a share of the car traffic that has been growing like stink since the 1960's by offering fast journeys everybody will win.

After all you don't expect every train from Victoria and London Bridge to East Croydon to take 30 minutes or more.

But it's a trade off. Introduce a service between Chester & Rock Ferry, perhaps stopping at Hooton only and you put a dent in demand for the stopping services. None of the stations in between are little halts, as it's a continuous built up area. Despite the quirks of local government, Chester is very much a part of the Mersey conurbation - at least as much as Southport is.

Comparisons with London only go so far. It's a much larger city with a higher population density. East Croydon has no less than 11tph to each of London Bridge & Victoria. That's more than enough trains to play with when deciding what stops where. Liverpool-Chester is 4tph. How would you add a fast service without negatively affecting all the intermediate destinations? Make the service less attractive to these and they may also think of driving in or getting the bus instead. How frequent would the fast service be? Would Chester still have stoppers on top of that, or would they terminate at Hooton, or go to Ellesmere Port? If Chester has, say, 1 fast and 4 stopper, then most people are just going to pick the first thing that shows up. Waiting for the fast will probably cancel out any journey time saving, more often than not. 1 fast per hour would never justify the infrastructure either, if you were to reinstate the fast lines. It's not Merseytravel but Network Rail and the Government who would need convincing of the case. The latter in particular loathes to spend on infrastrucure in the Liverpool area, or the "stony ground of Merseyside" as they term it in Whitehall lingo.
 
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notlob.divad

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If you *really* wanted faster Chester service, you could probably get them at a fraction of the price by building an intermediate turnback somewhere, with an "inner" stopping service as far as here, and Chester services running fast from Rock Ferry to this location, and then all stations thereafter.

The cost of 4 tracks would be astronomical for the "benefit" of 2-4 express services per hour at PTE fare levels...

They already have that ability at Rock Ferry if they so desire to use it, however any 'fast' service would only realistically skip Green Lane and maybe Birkenhead Central, which won't give a great improvement in journey time, and I think overall would not give a better outcome than the existing.

The only realistic way of creating a faster Chester - Liverpool time via the current Merseyrail loop, would be to drop to 3 tph, 2 stoppers and a semi-fast. However this would seriously dent the user figures of all the stations in between that are not on the semi fast route, as it would no longer be a Turn-up and go service and also reduce the people carrying capacity of the line. This is in essence the service pattern on the City lines at the minute, and the fact that they have only recently moved to every unit being 4 car operation, whilst the majority of Wirral and Northern line services run at 6 car lengths shows to me at least which part of the Merseyrail network is doing it right from the perspective of the general public.
 

8H

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Interesting discussion and good points made everybody. How about what I consider to be the substantive point?

Do we accept there is no possible swift rail alternative to car-travel between Merseyside Chester and North Wales? And that is that?

The only other rail alternative I could think of would be fast from Bidston to Shotton with a proper interchange. Could work for Chester and North Wales Coast, and Wrexham too depending on stopping patterns!
 
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Ianno87

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Interesting discussion and good points made everybody. How about what I consider to be the substantive point?

Do we accept there is no possible swift rail alternative to car-travel between Merseyside Chester and North Wales? And that is that?

The only other rail alternative I could think of would be fast from Bidston to Shotton with a proper interchange. Could work for Chester and North Wales Coast, and Wrexham too depending on stopping patterns!

I'm not very au fait with the latest Halton Curve service proposals, but if the hourly service were to extend across Chester to North Wales or Wrexham, then this would offer some improvement through removal of the need to change trains at Chester for such passengers.

And I agree that better use could be made of the Borderlands line. At least half-hourly as far as Shotton for improved North Wales connections (ideally as part of the Merseyrail network), also picking up Greater Liverpool demand from Neston and Heswall (where demand must surely be suppresed by the low frequency and indirect access to central Liverpool). And perhaps be a bit brutal with the level of service at some of the quieter stations for the greater good
 

QueensCurve

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Halton Curve will be slow too. We need people out of cars and competitive journey times will do that.

Potentially about 43 mins based on timings of Class 350 from Lime St to Halton Junction and Class 175 from Helsby to Chester plus 4 mins.
 
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8H

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Cheers for the possible end to end time via Halton Curve Lime Street to Chester. About the same as it is now from Lime Street Low Level to Chester via Rock Ferry. Both well slower than the Birkenhead Paddington trains when they finshed in 1967. Yet more rail progress in the North! :D
 
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David Emmott

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Difficult though. How much usage did Birkenhead Woodside get in the old days? If you are going to run a mainline/quasi express service between Liverpool and Chester it's no good trying to fit it onto a metro system.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Cheers for the possible end to end time via Halton Curve Lime Street to Chester. About the same as it is now from Lime Street Low Level to Chester via Rock Ferry. Both well slower than the Birkenhead Paddington trains when they finshed in 1967. Yet more rail progress in the North! :D

How much usage did Birkenhead Woodside get in the old days? If you are going to run a mainline/quasi express service between Liverpool and Chester it's no good trying to fit it onto a metro system.

My 1958 timetable shows Chester-Birkenhead Woodside on the hourly fast services took 30 minutes (stops at Hooton and Rock Ferry, sometimes Bromborough also).
They often originated beyond Chester with a 2-hourly service from Paddington (4-car portions from what I remember).
By the time you changed at Rock Ferry for the Mersey Railway it was 38 minutes to Liverpool Central LL (still faster than today's 46 minutes on the through electrics).

When DMUs came in at 2tph, they mostly had the same stops, with the Helsby stoppers proving the local services, interchanging at Hooton for Chester.
When Woodside closed, the services terminated at Rock Ferry instead.
Gradually, the DMUs reduced frequency, and eventually all became stoppers.

Woodside also fed the ferries, and it could be quite a quick hop on the frequent ferries to Liverpool Pier Head.
Now Woodside is a dead space, nobody uses the hourly ferries today except tourists, and the area is near-deserted.

Today's 4tph service wins hands down on frequency, but it is now metro-only and doesn't offer any though journeys.
 
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Polarbear

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There would be a way of providing at least a semi-fast service between Chester and Liverpool, but it would involve reinstating some quadruple track around Hooton.

My idea was to have a stopping service every 15 minutes between Hooton & Liverpool. Two of these would be the current Ellesmere Port service & two would continue to Chester.

Overlaid onto this would be two additional services per hour from Chester which would run fast from Hooton to say Rock Ferry. To minimise the amount of extra tracks needed, the idea would be for the stopping service to pause at Hooton (probably the Ellesmere Port service) to allow the fast Chester service to run in front of it.

I haven't looked at this in too great a detail so I expect that it would need more additional track and/or infrastructure rebuilding than I envisage. I do think that there should be a quicker journey time between Chester & Liverpool.
 

Ianigsy

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I've often thought that the siding next to the southbound platform at Birkenhead Central could be used for a stopping service calling at intermediate stations to Hooton - the main problem I can see is that from Spital and southwards you're in the nearest thing Wirral has to a stockbroker belt and every station would have a claim on a fast service to Liverpool. Perhaps the way to do it would be to have two fast Chester services an hour and give the Chester and Ellesmere Port stopping services different calling patterns between Hooton and Birkenhead Central, as I can't imagine a great deal of traffic between stations on that leg.

My Middleton Press Chester to Birkenhead has a number of pictures of Hooton, but the only one showing a legible platform number is a 1984 shot of a 47 on Amlwch tankers, which shows the Chester-bound platform numbered 4. I'd say there are three possibilities for when the platforms were renumbered:

1. When electrification reached Hooton in 1985

2. When electrification was extended to Chester and Ellesmere Port in 1993-4

3. Shortly thereafter when the Merseyrail network was resignalled.

My guess is that it could well have been the first, as a new signalbox was constructed at the time south of the station and there may have been chnges to the layout (such as an electrified turnback siding) which made renumbering based on what was actually there a sensible idea.
 

Old Yard Dog

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There is a fourth platform at Hooton by the ticket office with track extant, which is occasionally used by excursion trains. Although there is no number on the platform, the passenger lift has two plates inside describing it as "Platform 0".
 
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