Liverpool & Manchester : Patricroft

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Senex

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Does anyone know the reason for the severe kink in the line at the west end of Patricroft station, and whether this is the reason why the speed-limit remains 75 right the way through from Astley to Ordsall Lane and why the 60 at Astley was never raised (remember the announcements of 75 all the way across Chat Moss and 90 for the rest of the line)? It looks as though this could be something to do with the way in which the Manchester end of the line was quadrupled in the 1880s, which someone with local expertise might know about.
From the OS maps (6" and 25") it is clear that Patricroft was originally straight. The quadrupling seems to have been on the south side between Barton Moss Jn and Eccles Jn, then on the north side to Cross Lane, and then back to the south side to Exchange, and this ties in with the opening-dates for the various sections. But this is not enough to explain why both pairs of lines seem to kink/have kinked at Patricroft, with both pairs of platforms at a slight angle to the direct line of route. Was there something already at Patricroft that prevented a straighter alignment from being chosen?
Whatever the reason, this seems to be yet another example of a widening of the line spoiling what had been a very good alignment. (How many of us, I wonder, remember Twyford on the GW main line in the 1960s with its vicious kink around the main-lines platforms and the resulting 75 speed-limit?)
 
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Bevan Price

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I cannot answer the Patricroft question, but the Astley level crossing has at least two problems.
First - if you stand near the crossing, you can feel the ground "bounce" when heavy trains go past. Maybe the ground is considered too unstable to permit the higher forces than might occur at higher speeds.

Also, it has user-worked gates, where you are supposed to open both sets of gates before crossing, and then return on foot to close both sets of gates after you have crossed; unfortunately there are some lazy s*ds who fail to close the gates, and the signalman needs to leave his box to close the gates before clearing the signals; the westbound approach is also on a slight curve, so there may be considered to be a visibility problem if travelling at more than 60 mph.

Provision was made for 4-tracking west of Barton Mass Jn, but never implemented. About a mile or so of embankment was built on the south side of the line; a section was used briefly in the 1970s to divert the running lines whilst an underbridge was built over what became the M62.
 
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The 'kink' was caused by the need to create an island platform for the Down Slow and Up Fast lines after quadrupling. New separate bridges over Green Lane were provided, but the Bridgewater Canal bridge to the west was simply widened. New tracks to the north were not possible because of the Naysmyth works (locomotives and steam-hammers) opened in 1836, not long after the L & M inauguration. A lot of the LNWR improvement works in the late Victorian period were somewhat parsimonious - much of the quadrupling work between Euston and Crewe was sub-standard with restricted clearances, even by the practices of the day.
 

Senex

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Thanks to both of you. So the presence of the Naysmyth works meant that the new build had to be on the south side through the station, and this made it reasonable to continue on the south side westwards and made quite a severe kink inevitable if they wanted then to widen on the north side eastwards. With the speeds of the day I suppose the end alignment wasn't too bad, but as in quite a number of other places it's not good for the much higher speeds we now want. Am I right perhaps to assume that 75 is the limit of what can be done without rebuilding the platforms, and that both makes it rather pointless to go back up to 90 towards Manchester and means that the 60 back at Astley is not as severe in its impact as it would be if the line-speed continued at 90? (I suppose the total cost as opposed to a sustained 90 is about 1½ minutes.) As for Astley, I hadn't realised what a "primitive" type of crossing it clearly is. Nevertheless, in the publicity ahead of the modernisation Network Rail did clearly say that the speed here would go up to the 75 that would rule across the Moss. So did they discover that things were more difficult than they expected, or is this another case of de-scoping, I wonder?

Without seeing the Deposited Plans it's hard to know exactly what the original ideas were, but I had wondered from the evidence of the 25" OS maps if there had been an intention to widen further west than Barton Moss Jn, for there is evidence there of a wider formation as far as Barton Moss station, so many thanks to Bevan Price for confirming that (and adding the detail that I had certainly never heard of about the M62 bridge). I totally agree with Sir Felix about the parsimonious nature of quite a lot of the LNW works, though I'd say in the third quarter of Victoria's reign rather than the late period, as by the 1890s they were doing some pretty good stuff. But some of the early work, and especially the provision of the third and fourth tracks between Euston and Bletchley, was very much sub-standard, not only with restricted clearances but also with steeper earthworks than recommended in the best engineeering practice of the dayin order to save on land acquisition.

As to the Moss itself, it's interesting that the piles for the OLE were taken right down to a firm foundation but the track itself was left floating. German engineers have faced upgrading sections over peat-bog land on most of the main lines out of Berlin in the last thirty years and have adopted much more aggressive improvement measures—in one case using piles of up to 30 metres in length to carry the line on reinforced concrete "plates". And here in this country HS1 required complicated measures to take it securely and fit for high-speed running across Rainham Marshes. Presumably the principal main line between two of the largest and most important English cities doesn't quite rank ...
 

LNW-GW Joint

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The "Port Salford" development was supposed to have put in a branch line at Barton, leaving the L&M between the M60 and M62 bridges (ie the section with the unused embankment on the south side).
But it's all gone very quiet on that one.
It might also have taken freight away from the Trafford Park terminal, which would improve the Castlefield Corridor situation.
.
 
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