A few quick wins which will im­prove rail ser­vice

Manchester Evening News - - LETTERS, COMMENTS AND EMAILS -

IT’S grat­i­fy­ing that the Mayor of Greater Manch­ester is urg­ing sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments in lo­cal rail ser­vices. How­ever it will ob­vi­ously take quite a lot of time be­fore most of them can be achieved.

There are a few quick wins which he would do well to pur­sue for early progress. Vic­to­ria station can be over­whelmed by the num­ber of trains us­ing it due to the in­suf­fi­cient num­ber of plat­forms. Thirty years ago the size of the station was con­sid­er­ably re­duced.

Rail­way­men say that there is room be­neath the Arena for at least one plat­form and line back­ing onto the cur­rent plat­form 6, pos­si­bly even for a sec­ond. In­ves­ti­gat­ing whether this is the case or not should be un­der­taken as a mat­ter of great ur­gency.

At the mo­ment there are five or six freight trains, each over a quarter of a mile long ev­ery day, which join­ing the line to­wards Rochdale at Miles Plat­ting at a max­i­mum per­mit­ted speed of 10 miles per hour, block both up and down lines as they slowly cross the junc­tion.

Un­til 30 years ago there was a con­nect­ing line from the west­ern­most track from Vic­to­ria to New­ton Heath which passed be­hind the plat­forms at the old Miles Plat­ting station. This line could eas­ily and rapidly be re-in­stated and re­duce the im­pact of the slow mov­ing freight trains by 50 per cent by al­low­ing down pas­sen­ger trains to con­tinue while the slow freight wends it way across the junc­tion.

The Sad­dle­worth area, Moss­ley and Green­field are the worst served com­muter ar­eas in the county if not the coun­try. The rail­way ap­proach­ing Dig­gle tun­nel (where long ago there was a station) was four tracks wide. Today most of it is only two. With such a wide area it should be pos­si­ble to pro­vide a turn­back sid­ing be­tween the main lines (rather like has been done at Rochdale station with the new plat­form 4). This would en­able a fre­quent ser­vice of stop­ping trains to serve Green­field and Moss­ley.

They would im­me­di­ately fol­low a fast train from Staly­bridge and be clear of the next fast train by go­ing into the turn­back sid­ing.

Ev­ery time there is flood­ing in the Wals­den/Tod­mor­den area, which hap­pens with mo­not­o­nous fre­quency, the trains serv­ing Lit­tle­bor­ough and Smithy Bridge sta­tions are aban­doned.

Ear­lier this month these im­por­tant sta­tions were with­out a train ser­vice for almost 24 hours.

There is a pro­vi­sion in the in­fra­struc­ture to over­come this but it is 50 years old tech­nol­ogy and re­quires Net­work Rail to send an op­er­a­tor out to the site of the Sum­mit West Emer­gency Cross­over to work it man­u­ally. In prac­tice Net­work Rail is never able to pro­vide such a per­son.

Surely it’s high time to up­date the tech­nol­ogy so that the cross­over can be op­er­ated re­motely by a sig­naller so that ser­vice can be re­tained at Lit­tle­bor­ough and Smithy Bridge. Richard S Green­wood, Rochdale

Win­ter sun over the War Mu­seum. Pic­ture by Pe­ter Bar­ton from Sale. If you have a stun­ning pic­ture, then we’d love to see it. Send your pho­tos to us at view­[email protected] co.uk, mark­ing them Pic­ture of the Day

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