TfW Chester to Manchester Airport 04:45 - two routes?

davsarg

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Hi all,

Does anyone know the story behind this rather curious TfW service please. Between Chester and Manchester Piccadilly it can take two different routes, either via Warrington BQ arriving in MP at Platform 13 or via Northwich and Stockport arriving in MP at platform 9. According to RTT, both routes have been used this week but whichever route it takes the arrival time is the same.


Thanks very much.
 
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Turbo004

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Hi all,

Does anyone know the story behind this rather curious TfW service please. Between Chester and Manchester Piccadilly it can take two different routes, either via Warrington BQ arriving in MP at Platform 13 or via Northwich and Stockport arriving in MP at platform 9. According to RTT, both routes have been used this week but whichever route it takes the arrival time is the same.


Thanks very much.
There are very few drivers at TfW who currently sign the route via Northwich and Stockport. As a result I believe in normal circumstances it is possible for the train to be diverted to run via Warrington with no time penalty if the driver does not sign the route via Northwich. Because this happens so often there is nearly always a path via Warrington with no time penalty. Incidently the route via Northwich is still referred as The Cheshire Lines route at Chester TfW depot despite the company going out of existence in 1948.
 

_toommm_

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I suspect that if the crew know the route via Northwich, they’ll do that route to keep up competency. If not, it’s the normal route via Warrington BQ.
 

Turbo004

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I suspect that if the crew know the route via Northwich, they’ll do that route to keep up competency. If not, it’s the normal route via Warrington BQ.
That is almost correct. However the booked route is via Northwich. Hence the normal route for this particular service is via Northwich. Only if TfW can't find will it be diverted via Warrington. Incidently TfW are currently retraining drivers for the route via Northwich. Hopefully in the medium term this train will more commonly go via Northwich.
 

Welshman

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It's interesting your saying TfW is retraining crew for the Mid-Cheshire route.
Is there perhaps the intention at some stage in the future to divert the North-Wales -Manchester services that way to avoid the Castlefield Corridor?
It would be good to include the Middlewich line to Crewe so that TfW could go that way when the traditional line via Christleton tunnel is blocked, instead of having to substitute buses.

By the way, I note there is a third route used between Chester and Manchester Pic. but for ECS only.
This is via Crewe down refuge siding - presumably to retain competency through Crewe yard.

 
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Kite159

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It's interesting your saying TfW is retraining crew for the Mid-Cheshire route.
Is there perhaps the intention at some stage in the future to divert the North-Wales -Manchester services that way to avoid the Castlefield Corridor?
It would be good to include the Middlewich line to Crewe so that TfW could go that way when the traditional line via Chrstleton tunnel is blocked, instead of having to substitute buses.

By the way, I note there is a third route used between Chester and Manchester Pic. but for ECS only.
This is via Crewe down refuge siding - presumably to retain competency through Crewe yard.


Or maybe due to a lack of path available on platform 6 at Crewe, which from memory is the only platform which has access from both the line from Chester & line towards Manchester?
 

Turbo004

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It's interesting your saying TfW is retraining crew for the Mid-Cheshire route.
Is there perhaps the intention at some stage in the future to divert the North-Wales -Manchester services that way to avoid the Castlefield Corridor?
It would be good to include the Middlewich line to Crewe so that TfW could go that way when the traditional line via Christleton tunnel is blocked, instead of having to substitute buses.

By the way, I note there is a third route used between Chester and Manchester Pic. but for ECS only.
This is via Crewe down refuge siding - presumably to retain competency through Crewe yard.

Firstly there are now more TfW services via Northwich with the May 2022 timetable. There is an extra service at 03.36 from Chester to Manchester Airport which goes via Northwich. This service last ran pre covid.

Secondly there was / is a proposal to divert TfW services via Northwich due to the Castlefield corridor having too many trains. As far as I know no final decision has been made either way. This proposal has been discussed on other threads. Whilst I think it is unlikely that all TfW services will be diverted this way there is a feeling that it makes sense for some drivers to have the knowledge via Northwich in case all services get diverted that way.

Thirdly I feel there is no way TfW traincrew will learn the route via Middlewich. Whilst it would be useful the general trend in the UK is for cuts. This is also true at TfW with the routes via Stoke and Stafford both no longer being available within the last six months. Incidently Christleton tunnel is no longer the problem it was. Since Network Rail installed pumps I can't remember the last time the line shut for this reason.

Or maybe due to a lack of path available on platform 6 at Crewe, which from memory is the only platform which has access from both the line from Chester & line towards Manchester?
You are correct Kite. Platform 6 is only available from Chester and Manchester. The down refuge siding has long been used to help with shunting units. It can be very useful at such a busy station as Crewe. Incidently with HS2 proposals there will be no platform with access from both Manchester and Chester. In my opinion this is quite a disadvantage of plans.
 
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Eccles1983

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It's interesting your saying TfW is retraining crew for the Mid-Cheshire route.
Is there perhaps the intention at some stage in the future to divert the North-Wales -Manchester services that way to avoid the Castlefield Corridor?
It would be good to include the Middlewich line to Crewe so that TfW could go that way when the traditional line via Christleton tunnel is blocked, instead of having to substitute buses.

By the way, I note there is a third route used between Chester and Manchester Pic. but for ECS only.
This is via Crewe down refuge siding - presumably to retain competency through Crewe yard.



A few things are wrong in this.

1. They aren't adding any additional resources to the mid Cheshire line. It's one link of one depot that signs it. Same as it ever was.

2. To re-route the services away from castlefield it would take roughly 100 drivers worth of route learning to do so from 3 different depots.

3. The Middlewich line is a complete none starter. You would need then 150 drivers minimum to sign it.

4. The last time Christelton tunnel shut was in the early January. The tunnel is only one part of a very wet floodable line.
 

_toommm_

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I swear they also used to operate a service via a reversal at Stoke, whether that be ECS or passenger at night. I’m not sure that runs anymore though, I believe it was taken out around the time of the first lockdown
 

Turbo004

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I swear they also used to operate a service via a reversal at Stoke, whether that be ECS or passenger at night. I’m not sure that runs anymore though, I believe it was taken out around the time of the first lockdown
Apologies. I don't think I explained myself properly. TfW used to operate a service via reversal at Stoke whether that be ECS or passenger at night. This was finally withdrawn as a diversionary route for TfW in December 2021 presumably as a cost cutting measure.
 

_toommm_

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Apologies. I don't think I explained myself properly. TfW used to operate a service via reversal at Stoke whether that be ECS or passenger at night. This was finally withdrawn as a diversionary route for TfW in December 2021 presumably as a cost cutting measure.

My message wasn’t in response to your message about Crewe Refuge, just about another route that TfW used to operate over occasionally so don’t worry, no confusion on my part; and my apologies if my message came across as abrupt.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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There are very few drivers at TfW who currently sign the route via Northwich and Stockport. As a result I believe in normal circumstances it is possible for the train to be diverted to run via Warrington with no time penalty if the driver does not sign the route via Northwich. Because this happens so often there is nearly always a path via Warrington with no time penalty. Incidently the route via Northwich is still referred as The Cheshire Lines route at Chester TfW depot despite the company going out of existence in 1948.
The Stockport-Altrincham-Northwich-Chester route is as much Cheshire Lines as the better known Cornbrook-Warrington-Hunts Cross line.
The Northwich route has always been a diversionary route for ATW/TfW Chester-Manchester services.
Crewe-Warrington BQ-Manchester Oxford Road has also been heavily used in the past when the Wilmslow route was closed.
Not sure how it works post-covid, but trains were also worked in service from Chester via Crewe P6 to Manchester, to get trains positioned onto the Marches route.
When the crossover into P6 at Crewe was broken once (for months), the short-lived Chester-Airport trains were worked via Gresty Lane to reverse.
 

507020

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The Stockport-Altrincham-Northwich-Chester route is as much Cheshire Lines as the better known Cornbrook-Warrington-Hunts Cross line.
The Northwich route has always been a diversionary route for ATW/TfW Chester-Manchester services.
Crewe-Warrington BQ-Manchester Oxford Road has also been heavily used in the past when the Wilmslow route was closed.
Not sure how it works post-covid, but trains were also worked in service from Chester via Crewe P6 to Manchester, to get trains positioned onto the Marches route.
When the crossover into P6 at Crewe was broken once (for months), the short-lived Chester-Airport trains were worked via Gresty Lane to reverse.
Not Stockport. The Cheshire Lines route ends at Northenden Junction, with there to Stockport (Edgeley) being owned by the L&NWR. The CLC continued to Tiviot Dale and ultimately Woodhead via Heaton Mersey, with a connection there to the Hope Valley as well as the MML to Bakewell. Altrincham - Deansgate Junction was also the MSJ&AR.
 

markymark2000

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The only good use of the Northwich diversion is the late night, none stop trips incase of like closure one way. Otherwise TFW do not use Northwich as a diversion at other times so it seems a bit daft. If anything happens Chester - Manchester, they just use buses and send pax on them, trains via Crewe or normal Northern Mid Cheshire services, not divert trains. What's the point in diversion route knowledge when they don't ever divert trains. Like.... Ever.

The none stop night ones, if there was ever works, would be about the same time using buses as trains. Surely they may as well sack off Northwich route knowledge when it's so rarely, if ever, used for diversion. Or, it wouldn't be much different time wise to vis Crewe and reverse in P6 at the times of day we are talking about.
 

Turbo004

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The only good use of the Northwich diversion is the late night, none stop trips incase of like closure one way. Otherwise TFW do not use Northwich as a diversion at other times so it seems a bit daft. If anything happens Chester - Manchester, they just use buses and send pax on them, trains via Crewe or normal Northern Mid Cheshire services, not divert trains. What's the point in diversion route knowledge when they don't ever divert trains. Like.... Ever.

The none stop night ones, if there was ever works, would be about the same time using buses as trains. Surely they may as well sack off Northwich route knowledge when it's so rarely, if ever, used for diversion. Or, it wouldn't be much different time wise to vis Crewe and reverse in P6 at the times of day we are talking about.
Whilst TfW don't plan to use the route via Northwich during the daytime very occasionally when there is major disruption on the route via Warrington they do use it. This is to get a unit at Manchester Airport back to Chester. The most recent time I know this happened was about a month ago.
As for sacking off the Northwich route I believe that the view is it best to see what happens on the Castlefield corridor. I've not been following the plans for the Castlefield corridor that closely that whilst only a slight chance it is still possible that in the future all TfW trains may go via Northwich.
If this were to ever happen it would be very useful for some TfW Drivers and Guards trained to run trains via Northwich on a more regular basis.
I agree timewise though it wouldn't make much difference to go via Crewe.
 

Greybeard33

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Secondly there was / is a proposal to divert TfW services via Northwich due to the Castlefield corridor having too many trains. As far as I know no final decision has been made either way. This proposal has been discussed on other threads. Whilst I think it is unlikely that all TfW services will be diverted this way there is a feeling that it makes sense for some drivers to have the knowledge via Northwich in case all services get diverted that way.
The initial Manchester Recovery Task Force timetable consultation (January 2021) recommended that the TfW N Wales/Chester - Manchester Airport service should be diverted to run via Northwich, calling at Northwich, Knutsford, Altrincham and Stockport and terminating in the Piccadilly main shed. Northern would have provided 2tph between Chester and Leeds via Warrington BQ, Manchester Victoria and Bradford. This would have removed an hourly path from the Castlefield corridor.

However, TfW indicated that it would not be possible to retrain traincrew in time for the December 2022 timetable change and Network Rail advised that the increased frequency on the Mid-Cheshire line would require upgrades to some user worked level crossings.

The DfT consultation response in October 2021 said that the diversion was strongly supported by users of the Mid-Cheshire line but strongly opposed by existing users of the service from North Wales, Chester and West Cheshire. It said that the diversion remained under consideration for a future timetable change.
 

markymark2000

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Whilst TfW don't plan to use the route via Northwich during the daytime very occasionally when there is major disruption on the route via Warrington they do use it. This is to get a unit at Manchester Airport back to Chester. The most recent time I know this happened was about a month ago.
As for sacking off the Northwich route I believe that the view is it best to see what happens on the Castlefield corridor. I've not been following the plans for the Castlefield corridor that closely that whilst only a slight chance it is still possible that in the future all TfW trains may go via Northwich.
If this were to ever happen it would be very useful for some TfW Drivers and Guards trained to run trains via Northwich on a more regular basis.
I agree timewise though it wouldn't make much difference to go via Crewe.
I think it's useful on 1 or 2 occasions but if it's only being used for its actual purpose of emergency diversion, once per month, is it worth it? If it was actually used, fair enough, makes sense but at the slightest hint of something going wrong, they cancel the train entirely from Chester and run buses, what is the point in diversionary route knowledge to use the diversion 90% of the time when things go wrong. For example, what stops TFW running a few trains per day via Mid Cheshire when the lines go off via Warrington for engineering work? Nothing if drivers are trained. They won't use it though as it's easier to put people onto buses or existing other trains on alter alternative routes.
 

Class 170101

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Depends where people are going. If you want Manchester City Centre then it won't matter whether its via Northwich or Warrington Bank Quay, but if you went destinations from North Wales to the West Coast Main Line then you would be very much in favour of it staying as is, otherwise you would have to change twice, at Chester and at Warrington Bank Quay.
 

markymark2000

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Depends where people are going. If you want Manchester City Centre then it won't matter whether its via Northwich or Warrington Bank Quay, but if you went destinations from North Wales to the West Coast Main Line then you would be very much in favour of it staying as is, otherwise you would have to change twice, at Chester and at Warrington Bank Quay.
Sorry to ask is this a reply to me or in response to the castlefields discussion above? (Or both)?

Don't want to reply if its not meant for me.
 

markymark2000

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Depends where people are going. If you want Manchester City Centre then it won't matter whether its via Northwich or Warrington Bank Quay, but if you went destinations from North Wales to the West Coast Main Line then you would be very much in favour of it staying as is, otherwise you would have to change twice, at Chester and at Warrington Bank Quay.
If this is in response to my comment, I do agree with you that going via Northwich isn't overly helpful for anyone wanting any other station via Warrington but that is no different to how it is now if the diversion was used. If anything, it just solidifies the fact that this diversion knowledge is useless as 1, it isn't really used except once in a blue moon, 2, it misses out a good chunk of the station which most people travel to/from (From my experience, there doesn't seem to be a huge amount of 'through' pax at Chester) and there is another, existing diversion which could be used in an absolute emergency to get trains back which drivers already have to sign for normal operations (this diversion being via Crewe)
 

Class 170101

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If this is in response to my comment, I do agree with you that going via Northwich isn't overly helpful for anyone wanting any other station via Warrington but that is no different to how it is now if the diversion was used. If anything, it just solidifies the fact that this diversion knowledge is useless as 1, it isn't really used except once in a blue moon, 2, it misses out a good chunk of the station which most people travel to/from (From my experience, there doesn't seem to be a huge amount of 'through' pax at Chester) and there is another, existing diversion which could be used in an absolute emergency to get trains back which drivers already have to sign for normal operations (this diversion being via Crewe)
My view is that they need both Crewe and Northwich routes. Diversionary routes where available are generally preferable than road transport so having Northwich is better even though it won't serve WCML at either Warrington or Crewe.
 

The Prisoner

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Whenever I’ve been on the 0032 non stop Piccadilly to Chester (usually after a show at the arena) it’s gone via the Mid Cheshire line. Notice it’s booked via Chat Moss tonight - is that one that flip flops too?
 

MP393

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Whenever I’ve been on the 0032 non stop Piccadilly to Chester (usually after a show at the arena) it’s gone via the Mid Cheshire line. Notice it’s booked via Chat Moss tonight - is that one that flip flops too?

Yes, same as the morning services it depends on whether the driver/guard signs via Northwich and engineering work etc, but that is another one which can change direction at Piccadilly on it’s arrival at the drop of a hat
 

markymark2000

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My view is that they need both Crewe and Northwich routes. Diversionary routes where available are generally preferable than road transport so having Northwich is better even though it won't serve WCML at either Warrington or Crewe.
You say that and I agree with you bus TFW have proven time and time again that they prefer buses over diversionary routes. Manchester line has been down multiple times this year so far and not once has a train been diverted via Northwich, they run everything as buses when Manchester is off.

I've seen multiple instances of emergency works too where trains just stop and they just make people wait hours for the problem to be resolved or buses get thrown on. No diversion. This is the point that I am making. I am not saying 'no diversionary routes ever', I am saying that this specific one is useless as it's never used. Same as the Stafford one which TFW have gotten rid of. It wasn't ever used so may as well get rid of the knowledge.
 

craigybagel

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By the way, I note there is a third route used between Chester and Manchester Pic. but for ECS only.
This is via Crewe down refuge siding - presumably to retain competency through Crewe yard.

That service is in effect two separate ECS runs - from Chester to Crewe, and then from Crewe to Manchester. It then forms a Manchester - Milford Haven public service. The latter requires Crewe based traincrew to work so it's easiest to send the ECS via Crewe to pick up that crew.
You say that and I agree with you bus TFW have proven time and time again that they prefer buses over diversionary routes. Manchester line has been down multiple times this year so far and not once has a train been diverted via Northwich, they run everything as buses when Manchester is off.

I've seen multiple instances of emergency works too where trains just stop and they just make people wait hours for the problem to be resolved or buses get thrown on. No diversion. This is the point that I am making. I am not saying 'no diversionary routes ever', I am saying that this specific one is useless as it's never used. Same as the Stafford one which TFW have gotten rid of. It wasn't ever used so may as well get rid of the knowledge.
If it's preplanned engineering work, TfW can work around it and ensure that the right crews are in place to keep services running. If it's unplanned disruption causing the issue, a train can only run via the Cheshire lines if both the driver and guard are Chester based (as both Llandudno Junction and Holyhead work to Manchester but don't sign the Cheshire lines), and even then the driver has to be from the one of the three links that signs that way. The odds of getting that combination are pretty slim, hence most services getting cancelled instead.
 
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markymark2000

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That service is in effect two separate ECS runs - from Chester to Crewe, and then from Crewe to Manchester. It then forms a Manchester - Milford Haven public service. The latter requires Crewe based traincrew to work so it's easiest to send the ECS via Crewe to pick up that Crewe.

If it's preplanned engineering work, TfW can work around it and ensure that the right crews are in place to keep services running. If it's unplanned disruption causing the issue, a train can only run via the Cheshire lines if both the driver and guard are Chester based (as both Llandudno Junction and Holyhead work to Manchester but don't sign the Cheshire lines), and even then the driver has to be from the inn one of the three links that signs that way. The odds of getting that combination are pretty slim, hence most services getting cancelled instead.
So chances of it being used are very slim for emergencies and

Again, as I keep stating and people seem to be conveniently missing. Even when it is pre planned, they do not use the diversion. For 1h 15 from Chester, people can travel via Crewe and that is the preferred option for TFW rather than extending a train to Manchester via the Cheshire Lines.

Sounds very much like it's a waste of time having drivers keeping route knowledge!
 

craigybagel

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Again, as I keep stating and people seem to be conveniently missing. Even when it is pre planned, they do not use the diversion. For 1h 15 from Chester, people can travel via Crewe and that is the preferred option for TFW rather than extending a train to Manchester via the Cheshire Lines.

Sounds very much like it's a waste of time having drivers keeping route knowledge!
Before Covid, it was frequently used for preplanned diversions. There were many weekends when services ran via the Cheshire lines all day.

Covid threw a massive spanner in the works. It's near impossible to learn the route without using Northern services, and TfW drivers weren't allowed to do so until a few weeks ago. The number of drivers who were qualified on the route was depleted, either through drivers leaving or through losing competence through lack of work, and it was very difficult to regain that knowledge or train up new drivers - especially at a time when the whole industry is short of drivers and TfW had higher priorities.

As normality returns, it's much more likely we'll see more services diverted via the Cheshire lines in future.

There has been a consolidation of knowledge at TfW of late; as you correctly point out, neither Stoke nor Stafford were terribly useful as diversion routes and have been dropped (both had alternative diversionary routes available for most scenarios). That is not the case with the Cheshire lines.
 

Welshman

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That service is in effect two separate ECS runs - from Chester to Crewe, and then from Crewe to Manchester. It then forms a Manchester - Milford Haven public service. The latter requires Crewe based traincrew to work so it's easiest to send the ECS via Crewe to pick up that Crewe.
That's interesting - thank-you.

Before Covid, it was frequently used for preplanned diversions. There were many weekends when services ran via the Cheshire lines all day.
I remember a few years ago, having an interesting Saturday journey from North Wales to Manchester via the Cheshire Lines.
I think almost every service to/from North Wales went that way, so pathing musn't have been a real problem.
It was a novel experience to travel through Stockport non-stop [however, slowly!] in both directions, and to arrive in and depart from the main shed at Piccadilly was a far more leisurely experience than the hustle of platforms 13 and 14!
 
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