Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence




  The development of rail services in this sector of Manchester has been erratic, partly due to the PTA's energies being concentrated on Metrolink. Hourly services offered at stations such as Reddish North are unacceptable in an urban area.

    —  The extensive rail network could offer sufficient capacity to ensure all stations within Greater Manchester are served by trains approximately every 15 minutes, and on some routes more often, at frequencies comparable to Metrolink trams.

    —  The principle element involves restoring rail capacity reduced over the last 30 years to permit operation of inter-regional and local services on the same network.

    —  Routes such as Manchester to Guide Bridge would have four tracks restored from two at present, and the strategic Hazel Grove chord increased to double track. Electrification of local rail routes could follow.

    —  Dual mode operation by rail and/or Metrolink could be evaluated for busy routes such as to Belle Vue, Bredbury, Reddish and Romiley provided inter-regional service capacity from Sheffield, Chinley and New Mills is maintained via other routes, either through Hazel Grove and Stockport or Guide Bridge.

    —  All local rail services would operate on 30 minute cycles, where two or more could operate over the same route providing trains at approximately 10 to 15 minute intervals.

    —  Bus operators would be required to provide all day services on core routes but these would integrate with rail and Metrolink wherever possible, and accept inter-modal ticketing.

    —  Bus service contracts would be introduced if operators did not provide PTE minimum service standards commercially at specified fares within three months.


  Railfuture cites Cambridge as a regional centre where rail could play an increased role in regional travel as well as a local plan promoting traffic reduction policies though greater public transport use. Cambridge currently enjoys good rail services on several routes, with six trains per hour to London (over two routes) and most local services operating hourly.

  Several relatively straightforward projects could radically improve local public transport services, which would have important ramifications for land use planning and transportation policy.

    —  A major upgrade to Cambridge station to provide an additional through island platform (on existing railway land) to accommodate additional train services.

    —  The provision of major new stations at Addenbrookes, to serve an employment centre set to expand from 6,000 to 20,000, and at Chesterton where a further park and ride facility for both rail and bus travel would be established.

    —  Re-opening the mothballed Cambridge—St Ives rail line, a strategic link in the rail network, as part of a local rail strategy, This could form part of Cam-Rail, with local, regional and a few longer distance services. Housing development for up to 10,000 people is planned at Oakington and the line also serves the science and business park. (NB It is a major concern that the SRA and Railtrack have apparently colluded in an attempt to turn this strategic rail asset into a busway. This approach will have little impact on solving the region's long-standing transport problems.)

    —  Developing a network where virtually all stations within a 15 mile radius are normally served approximately half hourly, including more cross city services linking Cambridge to St Ives and Huntingdon also Ely, March and Wisbech.

    —  Integrating a good rail service with local bus links, though requiring the local operator Stagecoach to operate its new City Service, all day, every day and running as many routes as practical to and from Cambridge rail station and other local rail stations. (Stagecoach Cambus only operates its daytime services to 7pm and other bus operators should be given an opportunity to run all-day services on all routes commercially, or have a contract regime imposed with three months, not 18 months. Park and Ride buses have tended to play a dominant role in local bus networks.


  There has been extensive discussion over the last year regarding the role of Merseyside PTE in setting franchise service standards, relative to the SRA. This outline principle has been agreed. Railfuture believes there is a strong case to separate the Merseyrail Electrics Metro network entirely from the national Railtrack network.

    —  As Merseyside is a European Objective One zone, significant EU funding could be available.

    —  The PTE could own or lease the infrastructure and then appoint a franchisee, similar to the Docklands Light Railway, subject to Government financial support being available to maintain the ageing tunnel infrastructure under the Mersey. Another option is for Merseytravel to operate the network itself, as in Tyne and Wear.

    —  The Merseyrail concept was born out of two studies, published in the mid-1960s. The Merseyside Area Land Use Transportation Study—MALTS set out the regional network that was initiated in the late 70s with the Liverpool city-centre "Loop and Link". Another study proposed the Liverpool Outer Loop.

    —  The opportunity exists for a number of smaller extensions to the existing third-rail electric system including "out-of-county" extensions which could be delivered within five years, rather than six-ten years as currently envisaged, along with significant service improvements, particularly at the peaks.

    —  Inner city area stations at St James and also Vauxhall could be progressed more rapidly.

    —  Extending electrification in the Wirral area from Bidston to Woodchurch is set out by the PTE (and Railtrack in its 2000 Network Management Statement) as a priority. Continuing from Woodchurch to Neston and Shotton could provide a new regional interchange with the Crewe—Chester—Holyhead route, with new stations at Gayton, Little Neston—Marshlands Road and Burton Ness.

    —  Some electric trains could continue from Shotton to Wrexham with support from the Welsh Assembly. Evaluation of this option has been undertaken by Ove-Arup and Railtrack.

    —  Extending the "Electrics" from Ellesmere Port to Helsby would complete the Cheshire network.

    —  Some major extensions in Liverpool could be delivered within seven years, providing Merseyrail links to some relatively depressed inner-city districts.

    —  Eventually the Merseyrail Electrics could extend into the adjacent counties with a new link to Skelmersdale, as well as to extending existing services to Wigan and Buscough Bridge Interchange.

    —  Additional funding could establish a link from Central Station into Wapping Dock Tunnel, on to Edge Hill and Wavertree Technology Park, with a new station serving the University and the Toxteth district. This service could continue over a freight line to Stanley, Anfield and Kirkdale and eventually to Bootle, "Giro" and Aintree.

    —  Longer term projects could include restoring the abandoned railway, now part of the Liverpool Loop Cycleway, from Hunts Cross to Gateacre, Broad Green, Knotty Ash, Norris Green and Walton or Aintree.

    —  Other Liverpool local routes could be upgraded to Merseyrail type services such as the Lime St-Allerton line, extending trains at half-hourly intervals to Widnes and Warrington, also to Runcorn and Chester or Crewe. A new Wavertree Station could be opened at Smithdown Road.

  These objectives are all relatively straightforward but require Government funding. If all of the above were completed within the 10 Year time span, Liverpool and the Merseyside region could enjoy an urban metro service comparable with any similar city region in Europe. (These issues have been discussed with Merseytravel.)


  The SRA has worked with the West Midlands PTE—Centro—to evaluate and expand rail capacity in the West Midlands. There are many cases where the capacity on radial routes was reduced by removing trackwork, such as cutting four tracks to two or taking out loop lines. Also when signalling was "renewed", line capacity was reduced by putting signals further apart. Lightly used local routes could be upgraded to act as diversionary routes for main line services. These few suggested improvements are largely on the existing railway route.

    —  Redditch to Birmingham corridor offers considerable potential for growth in local rail traffic, as the route of the very successful Cross City Line service introduced in 1979. Rail has not been fully upgraded hence heavy road traffic continues to use the parallel A38 route where a new by-pass has been approved for Selly Oak.

    —  The five mile section from Barnt Green to Longbridge and Kings Norton could be restored to four tracks throughout, enabling local trains to operate on separate tracks from Cross Country expresses and provide more flexible stopping arrangements for trains at Kings Norton and Northfield.

    —  This would permit greater flexibility to operate the proposed Frankley extension, as well as expanding services to a local Park and Ride at Barnt Green.

    —  At Kings Norton, relatively minor track and station alterations, including electrifying and reopening two disused platforms, are required for more flexible train operation and additional capacity. This should include a facility for freight trains to be "looped" to allow passenger services to pass. A facility for terminating trains would also be useful.

    —  Bus interchange facilities should be improved at several stations.

  Many other lines around the West Midlands offer similar scope for improvement.

    —  Lines radiating around Walsall are under-utilised and with extensions to electrification, from Walsall to Rugeley and, at least, Aldridge on the Sutton Park loop, this important regional centre could enjoy more frequent local train services.

    —  Upgrading Walsall station could offer the potential for an hourly fast service to London via Birmingham.

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