Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Picc-Vic: The Next Generation

Posted in Great Britain, Infrastructure by Chairman Pip on 5 April 2011

Back in the early 1970s, a proposal was mooted to build a new rail tunnel in Manchester that would connect Piccadilly and Victoria stations. This proposal, which was eventually given the name “Picc-Vic”, was intended to link up the disconnected rail networks then serving the city, allowing better movement of people through the centre. An additional benefit would have seen a reduction in the number of trains using the main stations, thus reducing the level of congestion. However, in the austere 1970s the cost of this project proved too much and it was abandoned in 1977. Although Piccadilly and Victoria were eventually linked by the construction of the Metrolink in the 1990s, it still remained the case that there was no way for trains to serve both both stations through the centre of the city. But, in this year’s Budget, the Chancellor announced a further £200m of investment in regional railways, of which £85m would be used to construct the Ordsall Curve. This will see a short new route constructed between Deansgate and Salford Central that will allow trains from Victoria to run into the current through platforms at Piccadilly, which will allow direct access to the route to Manchester Airport from Victoria for the first time, while at the same time improving the traffic flow into the terminal part of Piccadilly; at present, First Transpennine Express trains to Manchester Airport use the terminal platforms, and have to cross the station throat from one side to the other in order to reach the airport line, limiting the number of other train movements that the station can accept. Routing trains to Manchester Airport through Victoria and then the through platforms at Piccadilly would then allow a greater number of commuter trains to then use Piccadilly’s terminal platforms.

Of course, building the new chord is only one of the first steps in a much larger scheme that has been called “The Northern Hub”, intended to bring about a raft of major improvements to various bottlenecks throughout the north of England, of which Manchester is one (albeit the major one). The intention would also see the construction of at least two more through platforms at Piccadilly, which is needed, as the two track through route operating through the existing Platforms 13 and 14 is largely operating at capacity already – there would be very little space to accomodate a large number of extra services, which will likely occur when a new timetable taking in the Ordsall Curve is written. So, although this initial £85m is to be welcomed as part of the first stage, let’s hope that the follow up investment is also forthcoming to ensure that the full benefit of this can be enjoyed.

“Network Rail unveils £530m plan for Northern hub”
“Manchester rail link welcomed as a ‘boost’ to region”
“What’s the Ordsall Curve?”
“Manchester united”

Platforms 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly - First TransPennine Express services would be routed through these platforms under the Ordsall Curve scheme, but the existing route does not have the capacity.


3 Responses

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  1. Paul Sidorczuk said, on 5 April 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Let us look at the route from Manchester Piccadilly to Manchester Oxford Road if this line is quadrupled..

    On the left hand side, two new platforms on high level elevation construction similar the the existing construction comprising both platforms 13 and 14 to be constructed over Fairfield Street then a bridge over London Road.

    From here to Oxford Road, on the left hand side are premises and car parks that are part of the university where Altricham Street runs paralell to the existing viaduct, then two bridges over both Sackville Street and Princess Street (A34) which would require widening to four tracks.On the right hand side are properties at London Road, Sackville Street and properties at the rear of Granby Row that abut the existing viaduct.

    From Princess Street to Oxford Street, on the left hand side are various commercial properties that run at a 90 degree angle to the viaduct from Charles Street and on the right hand side, there are two loops of the River Medlock and no commercial properties except at the Princess Street corner then of course, there is the listed building that was formerly the premises of the Refuge Assurance Society (now a hotel) which abuts immediatly to the existing viaduct at the crossing at Oxford Street.

    Finally, the bridge over Oxford Street would need widening to four tracks which would meet the four existing paths through Manchester Oxford Road station.

    What time period is envisaged for planning and property compensation matters to be resolved and there are the costs required for the extra viaduct construction(whatever mode of construction is chosen) and the four new bridgeworks at London Road, Sackville Street, Princess Street and Oxford Street.

    Should the route for quadrupling the line from Manchester Oxford Road to Manchester Deansgate be required, there will be similar costs involved.

    • Chairman Pip said, on 5 April 2011 at 5:14 pm

      Never said it’d be easy. Never said there wouldn’t be a cost to it. But Manchester is a bottleneck that needs addressing.

      • Paul Sidorczuk said, on 5 April 2011 at 5:40 pm

        I agree that Manchester is a bottleneck that needs addressing but the costs involved do have to come out of the budget for the civil engineering and associated construction costs. As I said, there is also the compensation payments for existing land and property to be paid out of the one and the same budget.

        Has any perticular route of the new quadrupled viaduct been put into the public domain or have any preliminary routes been put before any committees at either national or local government level as yet?

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