Win­ning sta­tion

In the first of an ex­clu­sive three-part se­ries look­ing at Manchester’s rail­ways, ANDY COW­ARD fo­cuses on the story of Pic­cadilly sta­tion, cul­mi­nat­ing in this year’s Na­tional Rail Awards suc­cess

Rail (UK) - - Con­tents -

Manchester Pic­cadilly - this is your life: the story of a sta­tion that was ad­judged the 2016 NRA Ma­jor Sta­tion of the Year.

To use an oft-quoted stereo­type: “It’s grim up north!” But this old­fash­ioned im­pres­sion of the North West as a re­gion full of smog-filled towns and cities, with clog-wear­ing mill work­ers full of north­ern grit, is now very much a thing of the past.

The area has worked hard to shake off its in­dus­trial by­gone-era im­age. Mod­ern busi­nesses and in­dus­tries have re­placed the tra­di­tional man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­tries that were wiped out dur­ing the sec­ond half of the 20th cen­tury. Fi­nance, tech­nol­ogy and in­ter­net­based busi­nesses now dom­i­nate many north­ern cities, while many of the sur­viv­ing mills that once em­ployed thou­sands of peo­ple are ei­ther derelict, have been de­vel­oped for mod­ern busi­nesses, or con­verted into lux­ury apart­ments.

One city that has un­der­gone a mas­sive re­gen­er­a­tion, par­tic­u­larly over the past 20 years, is Manchester. It is a thriv­ing and vi­brant 21st cen­tury city, and one that will ben­e­fit fur­ther from the ar­rival of HS2.

While boast­ing many at­trac­tive and ar­chi­tec­turally in­ter­est­ing build­ings, the city suf­fered from the bru­tal ar­chi­tec­ture of the 1960s. The wide use of con­crete and the con­struc­tion of aus­tere tower blocks was seen at the time as be­ing the way for­ward for mass housing and busi­ness users, but has since fallen largely out of favour.

Ar­guably, it was a sin­gle dev­as­tat­ing event that kick-started the re­gen­er­a­tion of Manchester city cen­tre, trans­form­ing it into an at­trac­tive mod­ern city that is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar with busi­nesses and peo­ple wish­ing to live within the city cen­tre.

In June 1996, the IRA det­o­nated a huge bomb that had been left in a van parked on Cor­po­ra­tion Street, just out­side the Arn­dale Cen­tre (the main shop­ping cen­tre within the city cen­tre).

Thank­fully, a coded warn­ing had been given in ad­vance of the det­o­na­tion, al­low­ing the area to be evac­u­ated by the po­lice. Mirac­u­lously, no one was killed in the ex­plo­sion, but a large num­ber of peo­ple were in­jured. And struc­turally, a large part of the Arn­dale Cen­tre and a num­ber of other build­ings within the im­me­di­ate vicin­ity of the bomb were ex­ten­sively dam­aged.

Since that day, Manchester has been trans­formed, thanks to a huge amount of in­vest­ment by Manchester City Coun­cil and the Gov­ern­ment. Manchester is now very much a mod­ern city, with much of the bru­tal­ist ar­chi­tec­ture ei­ther re­placed or sym­pa­thet­i­cally blended with more mod­ern build­ings.

As with many other cities across the UK, the rail­way net­work link­ing the city with the rest of the coun­try plays a cru­cial part in help­ing to shape the lo­cal and wider econ­omy.

Manchester fea­tures two large main line sta­tions within the city cen­tre area, with Vic­to­ria lo­cated on the north side of the city and Pic­cadilly to the south. Both are well lo­cated for quick di­rect ac­cess to the city cen­tre.

Net­work Rail has re­cently com­pleted the much-needed re­de­vel­op­ment of a large part of Vic­to­ria, to bring the sta­tion up to mod­ern stan­dards. Pic­cadilly re­mains the main sta­tion for long-dis­tance ser­vices to and from Manchester, along with lo­cal ser­vices from the south of the city.

Pic­cadilly hit the head­lines in Septem­ber, when the sta­tion was ad­judged the Ma­jor Sta­tion of the Year at RAIL’s 2016 Na­tional Rail Awards (pro­vid­ing yet another richly-de­served award to the sta­tion’s al­ready bulging tro­phy cab­i­net). And Pic­cadilly will re­ceive fur­ther at­ten­tion over the com­ing years, with the

forth­com­ing ar­rival of HS2 into Manchester, as con­firmed by the Gov­ern­ment in Novem­ber 2016.

Al­though it is now more than 14 years since the sta­tion re­ceived any large-scale re­fur­bish­ment work, the fa­cil­i­ties at Pic­cadilly have been well de­signed and the sta­tion re­mains an im­por­tant gate­way to Manchester city cen­tre.

The prin­ci­pal sta­tion in the city, Pic­cadilly is man­aged by Net­work Rail. Pas­sen­ger ser­vices from the sta­tion are cur­rently op­er­ated by Vir­gin Trains West Coast, Cross­Coun­try, Tran­sPen­nine Ex­press, North­ern, Ar­riva Trains Wales and East Mid­lands Trains. Sta­tion usage fig­ures for the sta­tion show that more than 24.5 mil­lion peo­ple used the sta­tion dur­ing the 2014-15 pe­riod.

The sta­tion caters well for the needs of the mod­ern com­muter and leisure pas­sen­ger, with 12 ter­mi­nat­ing plat­forms and two through plat­forms to the south of the sta­tion, built on a con­crete bridge which crosses Fair­field Street. Pic­cadilly started life as a rail­way

Al­though it is now more than 14 years since the sta­tion re­ceived any large-scale re­fur­bish­ment work, the fa­cil­i­ties at Pic­cadilly have been well de­signed and the sta­tion re­mains an im­por­tant gate­way to Manchester city cen­tre.

The first phase of the re­fur­bish­ment fea­tured a com­plete over­haul of the sta­tion’s over­all roof, with the steel­work stripped back and re­painted and the glaz­ing on the roof re­placed.

sta­tion in 1842, when the Manchester and Birm­ing­ham Rail­way opened a two-plat­form sta­tion on Lon­don Road. Five years later, at the heart of the rail­way boom of the 19th cen­tury, the sta­tion was ex­panded to ac­com­mo­date the ad­di­tional ser­vices and rail­way com­pa­nies that wished to use it, and the sta­tion was re­named as Manchester Lon­don Road.

Fur­ther ex­pan­sion of the sta­tion came in 1881, with two spans added to the train­shed roof (giv­ing four spans in to­tal). How­ever, re­la­tions be­tween the two main rail­way com­pa­nies oc­cu­py­ing the sta­tion - the Lon­don North Western Rail­way and the Manchester Sh­effield and Lin­colnshire Rail­way - were poor. As such, the sta­tion was de­signed so that it could be op­er­ated as (ef­fec­tively) two sep­a­rate sta­tions on one site. Another part of the 1881 ex­pan­sion fea­tured a new is­land plat­form con­structed over Fair­field Street, to ac­com­mo­date ser­vices for the Manchester South Junc­tion and Al­trin­cham Rail­way.

In 1910 a new sta­tion, Manchester May­field, was opened on the op­po­site side of Fair­field Street. Built by the Lon­don and North Western Rail­way, it was in­tended that May­field would be used to al­le­vi­ate over­crowd­ing at the larger sta­tion on the other side of the street, as Manchester’s im­por­tance con­tin­ued to grow.

The sta­tion fea­tured four plat­forms, with a foot­bridge pro­vided to al­low pas­sen­gers to trans­fer di­rectly be­tween May­field and Lon­don Road. A range of ser­vices in the south Manchester area used the sta­tion, and it en­joyed a busy pe­riod dur­ing the late 1950s as Bri­tish Rail­ways worked on the re­mod­elling and mod­erni­sa­tion of the much larger Lon­don Road sta­tion.

Af­ter the na­tion­al­i­sa­tion of the rail­ways in 1948, Lon­don Road was op­er­ated by both the Lon­don Mid­land Re­gion of Bri­tish Rail­ways (LMR) and the Lon­don East­ern Re­gion of Bri­tish Rail­ways (LER). They con­tin­ued to op­er­ate the sta­tion as two sep­a­rate sta­tions.

Elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of the West Coast Main Line and the in­tro­duc­tion of new elec­tric trains would re­sult in the sta­tion cater­ing for more ser­vices, and BR’s re­mod­elling and mod­erni­sa­tion in­cluded the pro­vi­sion of a new sta­tion en­trance build­ing and mod­ernised con­course fa­cil­i­ties. A new con­crete bridge was also con­structed to carry the is­land through plat­forms (13 and 14) over Fair­field Street - re­plac­ing the 1881 Manchester South Junc­tion and Al­trin­cham Rail­way plat­forms.

As part of this mod­erni­sa­tion, the sta­tion was re­named from Manchester Lon­don Road to Manchester Pic­cadilly, which was a more ap­pro­pri­ate name to re­flect the area of Manchester where the sta­tion was lo­cated.

Manchester May­field sta­tion closed to pas­sen­ger ser­vices in Au­gust 1960, as work on the mod­erni­sa­tion of Lon­don Road was be­ing com­pleted. It was re­tained as a parcels sta­tion to man­age mail and parcels traf­fic, be­fore clos­ing com­pletely in 1986. It has re­mained derelict ever since, apart from oc­ca­sional use as a lo­ca­tion for tele­vi­sion dra­mas and for var­i­ous art and en­ter­tain­ment events.

The sta­tion site at May­field is now owned by Lon­don and Con­ti­nen­tal Rail­way, and the whole sta­tion site and sur­round­ing area is due to be com­pletely re­de­vel­oped over the next few years, in prepa­ra­tion for the ar­rival of HS2 ser­vices into Manchester in 2033.

Un­der the Picc-Vic pro­pos­als of the 1970s, it had been en­vis­aged that some lo­cal rail ser­vices from north Manchester would be linked to south Manchester ser­vices via an

It is ex­pected that fur­ther re­fur­bish­ment works will take place to im­prove Pic­cadilly sta­tion, in prepa­ra­tion for the ar­rival of high-speed ser­vices.

un­der­ground tun­nel be­tween the two main city cen­tre sta­tions - Vic­to­ria and Pic­cadilly - which had never been phys­i­cally linked by rail. The un­der­ground line would have fea­tured sta­tions be­neath the city streets at strate­gic lo­ca­tions, but the pro­ject was sub­se­quently shelved in the face of mount­ing costs.

How­ever, trans­port plan­ners from Greater Manchester Pas­sen­ger Trans­port Ex­ec­u­tive (now Trans­port for Greater Manchester) were still keen on com­ing up with a way of link­ing the two main city sta­tions, and it was even­tu­ally de­cided to in­ves­ti­gate re­turn­ing trams to the city, with mod­ern light rail ve­hi­cles run­ning on-street. This would be more cost-ef­fec­tive than ex­ten­sive tun­nelling be­neath the city.

With the ex­cep­tion of Black­pool, how­ever, all towns and cities in the UK had phased out the oper­a­tion of tramways. The pro­posed new sys­tem would there­fore be op­er­ated us­ing mod­ern trams, as had been suc­cess­fully op­er­ated in nu­mer­ous cities over­seas.

The new tramway pro­ject be­came known as Metrolink, and would en­tail the Bury-Manchester Vic­to­ria and Manchester-Al­trin­cham elec­tric train ser­vices be­ing con­verted to light rail, with both lines need­ing their elec­tri­fi­ca­tion sys­tems and rolling stock re­placed.

The two pop­u­lar com­muter lines would be linked by a sec­tion of on-street tramway run­ning be­tween Manchester Vic­to­ria and G-Mex (the name of the ad­ja­cent ex­hi­bi­tion cen­tre, which had once been Manchester Cen­tral sta­tion), with a short spur de­vi­at­ing at Pic­cadilly Gar­dens down to Pic­cadilly sta­tion, pro­vid­ing the link be­tween the two main sta­tions that had been wanted for so long.

For the Metrolink plat­forms at Pic­cadilly, a new sta­tion was cre­ated be­neath Pic­cadilly, within the sta­tion’s un­der­croft. Due to fears

about the safety of the main line sta­tion in the event of a tram de­rail­ing within the un­der­croft be­neath, the Metrolink sta­tion was built within a con­crete box.

The sta­tion fea­tures two plat­forms, and was brought into use in July 1992. Orig­i­nally one plat­form was used for ar­riv­ing ser­vices, with the other used for de­part­ing trams, but in re­cent years Metrolink has un­der­gone a mas­sive ex­pan­sion pro­gramme and the sta­tion is now used for a wide range of ser­vices across the ex­panded Metrolink net­work.

Pic­cadilly sta­tion un­der­went another ma­jor re­fur­bish­ment be­tween 1998 and 2002. The re­fur­bished sta­tion was com­pleted in time for the 2002 Com­mon­wealth Games, which brought the city to a huge in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence.

The first phase of the re­fur­bish­ment fea­tured a com­plete over­haul of the sta­tion’s over­all roof, with the steel­work stripped back and re­painted and the glaz­ing on the roof re­placed. This re­sulted in a much brighter and more at­trac­tive plat­form en­vi­ron­ment, which had pre­vi­ously suf­fered from years of ac­cu­mu­lated dirt and grime, prevent­ing out­side light from prop­erly en­ter­ing the sta­tion.

With the sta­tion roof fin­ished, a big­ger prob­lem to be ad­dressed was the re­place­ment of the sta­tion en­trance build­ing and con­course. It had been built to a typ­i­cal Bri­tish Rail late 1950s de­sign, and was wholly un­suit­able for a sta­tion the size of Pic­cadilly, with its in­creas­ing year-on-year usage.

Rail­track de­cided to com­pletely de­mol­ish the sta­tion en­trance build­ing and con­course fa­cil­i­ties, re­plac­ing them with a re­designed mod­ern en­trance and fea­tur­ing a wide range of re­tail units, ticket of­fice and First Class lounge.

The new en­trance and con­course had a mez­za­nine level added, pro­vid­ing space for more re­tail and cater­ing units. A mov­ing travel­la­tor walk­way was also pro­vided to link the ter­mi­nal plat­forms to­wards Plat­forms 13 and 14 - this had al­ways in­volved a long walk from the con­course area.

In ad­di­tion, a new en­trance to the sta­tion, along with a taxi rank and ac­cess to the sta­tion car parks, was opened on Fair­field Street, giv­ing di­rect ac­cess to both the Metrolink plat­forms and to the Net­work Rail sta­tion. Ter­mi­nal plat­forms 11 and 12 were re­in­stated dur­ing the re­fur­bish­ment of the sta­tion, hav­ing pre­vi­ously been taken out of use when the sta­tion was mod­ernised.

De­signed by BDP, with Laing O’Rourke as the main con­trac­tor, the re­de­vel­op­ment of Pic­cadilly sta­tion won the Bri­tish Coun­cil of Shop­ping Cen­tres Spe­cial Award for 2003 - a Royal In­sti­tute of Bri­tish Ar­chi­tects (RIBA) Award - among many oth­ers.

Road ac­cess to the main en­trance at Pic­cadilly was for many years via Pic­cadilly Ap­proach, al­though in re­cent years this has been used purely for bus ser­vices, with cars and taxis us­ing a new en­trance to the sta­tion at Fair­field Street.

One of the most dom­i­nant struc­tures on Pic­cadilly Ap­proach is the dis­tinc­tive Gate­way House - an un­usual ‘wavy’-shaped glass and con­crete build­ing that fea­tures re­tail units at ground level and of­fices on the up­per lev­els. The build­ing is cur­rently be­ing con­verted into use as a ho­tel, but its long-term fu­ture is de­pen­dent on the fi­nal cho­sen de­sign for the HS2 sta­tion, as one of the pro­pos­als for the new sta­tion would mean the demolition of Gate­way House.

The open­ing of Metrolink in 1992 gave a di­rect link be­tween Vic­to­ria and Pic­cadilly, al­though rail pas­sen­gers have al­ways had to trans­fer onto a tram to travel be­tween the sta­tions. Net­work Rail is now ad­dress­ing the long-stand­ing miss­ing link by build­ing the Ord­sall Chord, to link the two sta­tions and ser­vices by rail for the first time.

The Ord­sall Chord pro­vides 300 me­tres of new track, run­ning from the north­west of Castle­field Junc­tion and link­ing the line with the Deal Street Junc­tion line, con­nect­ing Vic­to­ria, Ox­ford Road and Pic­cadilly by rail. De­spite the Chord it­self fea­tur­ing only a small amount of new track, the pro­ject to build it is far from sim­ple - it en­tails the realign­ment of ex­ist­ing track, build­ing new bridges, re­mov­ing dis­used rail­way arches and restor­ing some Grade 1 listed struc­tures ( RAIL 811).

Work on the pro­ject be­gan in Oc­to­ber 2015, and it is hoped that it will be com­pleted in De­cem­ber 2017. The open­ing of the Ord­sall Chord will al­low Net­work Rail to trans­fer some ser­vices from Pic­cadilly to Vic­to­ria, to help re­solve the on­go­ing ca­pac­ity prob­lems that have been an is­sue at Pic­cadilly for some time, al­though there is ca­pac­ity at Vic­to­ria to han­dle more ser­vices.

How­ever, fu­ture de­vel­op­ment around Pic­cadilly, as well as ris­ing usage of rail ser­vices, means that Net­work Rail now has to fo­cus on ways of in­creas­ing ca­pac­ity at the sta­tion. This is be­ing achieved as part of the North­ern Hub de­vel­op­ment pro­ject, with the in­stal­la­tion of the Ord­sall Chord just one as­pect of a much larger fo­cus on de­vel­op­ing

The open­ing of Metrolink in 1992 gave a di­rect link be­tween Vic­to­ria and Pic­cadilly, al­though rail pas­sen­gers have al­ways had to trans­fer onto a tram to travel be­tween the sta­tions.

the rail­way net­work around Manchester and the sur­round­ing re­gion.

As part of the North­ern Hub, Net­work Rail is plan­ning some sig­nif­i­cant changes to the rail­way through Pic­cadilly, which will al­low the sta­tion to han­dle even more traf­fic than it cur­rently does.

Per­haps the main im­pact of the North­ern Hub pro­pos­als on Pic­cadilly sta­tion is the build­ing of two new el­e­vated through plat­forms, which will be num­bered 15 and 16. While Pic­cadilly is a large sta­tion, the pro­vi­sion of just two plat­forms for through ser­vices has al­ways cre­ated a bot­tle­neck for trains op­er­at­ing through the sta­tion.

How­ever, build­ing two new through plat­forms at the sta­tion is not a straight­for­ward process. A new viaduct, closely fol­low­ing the line of the ex­ist­ing rail­way, is to be con­structed to ac­com­mo­date the new plat­forms, while work will also be car­ried out to con­nect the new plat­forms to the ex­ist­ing sta­tion fa­cil­i­ties. Castle­field Viaduct, lo­cated be­tween Pic­cadilly and Ox­ford Road sta­tions, is to be widened on the south­ern side. And out of sight of the trav­el­ling public, another as­pect of the North­ern Hub Pic­cadilly pro­ject will be the re­con­fig­ur­ing of the ex­ist­ing elec­tri­cal sub­sta­tion near to Lon­don Road.

The ar­rival of HS2 will bring fur­ther at­ten­tion on Manchester, with the new HS2 plat­forms to be con­structed along­side the cur­rent sta­tion - pro­vid­ing a di­rect link be­tween the Net­work Rail and HS2 sta­tions. It is ex­pected that fur­ther re­fur­bish­ment works will take place to im­prove Pic­cadilly sta­tion, in prepa­ra­tion for the ar­rival of high-speed ser­vices.

Even though it is now 15 years since the sta­tion was last given a sig­nif­i­cant re­fur­bish­ment, it is still man­aged and main­tained to a very high stan­dard, and the award­ing of the Na­tional Rail Award for Ma­jor Sta­tion of the Year is proof that Net­work Rail’s sta­tion man­age­ment for Pic­cadilly is still bear­ing fruit.

Pic­cadilly sta­tion has un­der­gone some dra­matic changes dur­ing the past two decades, but re­mains the gate­way to the city for most visi­tors ar­riv­ing by rail. This vi­tal and im­por­tant sta­tion seems set to con­tinue evolv­ing, along­side the city it serves.


Sta­tion shift man­agers Matt Jump and Kyla Thomas re­ceive the Na­tional Rail Awards Ma­jor Sta­tion of the Year award from BBC Ra­dio 4 pre­sen­ter and NRA host Justin Webb (far left), and stage as­sis­tant Gabriella Lester (far right).


Manchester Pic­cadilly’s unloved 1950s-era bru­tal­ist con­crete con­course was swept away as part of the sta­tion’s ren­o­va­tion pro­gramme be­tween 1998 and 2002. The new ameni­ties and spa­cious­ness is far more be­fit­ting of a city that osted the Com­mon­wealth Games in 2002, and a sta­tion that han­dled al­most 25 mil­lion pas­sen­gers in 2014-15.


HS2 ser­vices to Manchester are planned to com­mence in 2033, with a new ter­mi­nus be­ing built im­me­di­ately to the right of Pic­cadilly’s train­shed.


Ar­riva Trains Wales 175104 awaits de­par­ture from Plat­form 13 on Au­gust 19 2016, form­ing the 1054 ex-Llan­dudno Junc­tion-Manchester Air­port. Plat­forms 13 and 14 re­main Pic­cadilly’s only through plat­forms, un­til two more are built by 2018 to in­crease ca­pac­ity as part of the North­ern Hub pro­gramme.

First opened in 1842 by the Manchester and Birm­ing­ham Rail­way, Manchester Pic­cadilly was known as Lon­don Road sta­tion un­til Septem­ber 12 1960 when it was re­named as part of the mod­erni­sa­tion of the West Coast Main Line and the in­tro­duc­tion of elec­tric ser­vices to Lon­don Eus­ton. The main sta­tion build­ing was sub­se­quently de­mol­ished and re­placed by a small sin­gle-storey glass and steel con­struc­tion, plus a mod­ernist of­fice block known as Gate­way House that is cur­rently be­ing con­verted into a ho­tel. ALAMY.


Fire­men sur­vey the scene of dev­as­ta­tion on June 15 1996, af­ter the IRA det­o­nated a car bomb on Cor­po­ra­tion Street in Manchester city cen­tre. Thank­fully it caused no loss of life, and the in­ci­dent has since been at­trib­uted with pro­vid­ing the stim­u­lus for the wide­spread re­gen­er­a­tion of the city, in­clud­ing its main sta­tion at Pic­cadilly.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.