Saturday, 7 January 2017


You don't hear much about new overhead railways being built, they are things that exist in New York, Chicago and in Liverpool's case the past, but new ones are surprisingly common.  The Docklands Light Railway is largely overhead as are sections of the Newcastle Metro, European cities have or had some elevated railways, sections of Hamburg Hochbahn are elevated.
The very earliest overhead systems where simply brick viaducts, while the arch spaces could be used they took up a lot of space and often ran heavyweight trains. Later systems used lighter weight trains and lighter weight viaducts enabling the systems to be raised on steel or concrete columns. Leaving space beneath for roads. Some like the Liverpool Overhead were built above other railway lines, that ran along the street for freight transport between docks.
The main advantage of the overhead railway is, that like an underground it leaves the surface free or largely free for other uses, such as roads, pedestrians or surface level tram lines. Compared with underground it is cheaper to build and easier to maintain, as well as requiring less safety system. As they do not have to cooperate with other surface vehicles the can also have double the capacity of surface level trams.
Liverpool lost both its tram and overhead railway in the 1950s, things which, with hindsight seem like a mistake. There was even an attempt in the 2000s to create a new tram system as Merseytram, but that too failed, even after the purchase of the land and even the rails had started.


A large part of the original Liverpool Overhead Railway's business was messengers moving between the docks, the widespread of the telephone put an end to that. Changes in technology and the docks have meant that that need has not returned. However, the rise of the area as residential and the move of the retail area of Liverpool further towards the river may offer a source of passengers.
There are some other unused old rail resources in central Liverpool which could be brought into use to produce a more integrated system, especially if Tram-Train technology is thrown into the mix, a central network connected, via existing heavy rail lines to subsystems on the outskirts, can be created.
Original the LOR was an isolated system but it was finally connected to the main rail network with a link to the North Mersey Branch, which allowed connections to all the north line to Southport and the line from Aintree to Ormskirk, it would have provided access as far as Kirkby but the North Mersey Branch was not electrified that far. The change of use does not extend far beyond Sandhills Lane so there would be little case for extending the line back to Litherland. However, joining the Northern line near Sandhills could use the wider track section provided by the CLC route.
To the south, a connection to the Northern line at Brunswick could be made. Further links could be made by the Wapping Tunnel and the Waterloo Tunnel to Edge Hill, where a curve would create a triangular loop line. Extra stations could be provided along the length of the tunnel.
In order to use the tunnel, the line would have to drop down to ground level. The normal clearance required on motorways is 15.1 meters, if this is required for the new railway then this would put the rails some 17 meters above the ground. The steepest gradient on the Docklands Light Railway is 1 in 17 (5.88%), at that gradient, the ramps would need to be 119 meters long. This length easily fits into the available space where transitions are required.
Merseyrail already plans a connection from the northern line, south of Central station to the Wapping tunnel as part of it Edge Hill Link scheme, with at least one additional station at Crown Street. Part of their plan is to open up the area around Wavertree by rebuilding the LOR as Tram-Train and lining it to Edge Hill the link could be fully utilised and the Trams go beyond Edge Hill and at some point leaving the railway and mix with ordinary traffic as a street tram.
The tighter turns of light rail would allow, with some tunnel works a connection to the wapping tunnel heading west, though the floor would have to be lower to clear an intrusion into the tunnel.
The Waterloo tunnel pass within 400 metres of Lime Street underground on the loop line, a short branch from the Waterloo could provide a platform parallel to the current loop line platform and provide access to both Loop Line and Mainline passengers.
With a connection made to Lime Street then a short spur of a loop which passed down Princes' parade would allow the cruise liner terminal to be connected conveniently to the mainline station, with just a short walk.
Possible Train Tram system with new LOR.


It difficult to estimate costs but is found Comparison of Capital Costs per Route-Kilometre in Urban Rail from a Danish university.  Which contains this table

There are about 7km of existing tunnel, which as the tunnel is already built I have priced as surface, 8 of elevated and an extra 0.6 miles of new tunnel. All figures in millions.

2000 → 2017 $ 1.4016
2017 $ → £ 0.81

Cost Kilometre 2000 prices 2017 prices 2017 $ → £
Surface $15.00 7 $105.00 $147.17 £119.21

$210.00 $294.34 £238.41

Elevated $30.00 8 $240.00 $336.38 £272.47

$600.00 $840.96 £681.18

Underground $60.00 0.6 $36.00 $50.46 £40.87

$108.00 $151.37 £122.61



So roughly £275 to £685 million for the overhead rebuild or between £435 and £1045 million for the complete system.

Monterrey Metro

From Garcia Bridge Engineers 
 This is not for light rail but it shows how a viaduct is built

which has quite a lot of similarities with how the original was built! Though instead of being counterbalanced the front is supported by mobile columns on their own railways.
From YOLiverpool

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Tower Blocks for Norwich

Having turned my non-existent training in urban planning to solving all the problems of Liverpool, I have decided to have a look at some other places I have been to, this is going to be quite a short list but I thought I'd start with Norwich, a place I quite like.
National Library of Scotland side by side, modern & historic map.
One of the main problems that might face Norwich is where could it expand without destroying its current atmosphere? The answer is provided by the disused route of the Lynn and Fakenham Railway line. The red line below.

Using this route to provide access to a new high rise zone to the north of the city, about where the industrial estates are. It would not only be reinstated as a rail line but also as a cycle and walkway, to provide quick access to the city centre for work etc.
The line would be extended through the city to the current railway station by a new build tram line, in blue above. This would act as the core line for a future Norwich tram system.


The reinstated line would not be heavy rail but would be light allowing it to connect to a tram line, which could connect to the mainline railway station, then using a tram/train concept out on the Brecklands line towards Attleborough or the various railway lines, current and disused, to the south and east of Norwich, providing the city with  a proper light rail system, including the Norfolk Orbital Railway.

While it isn't the cheapest I think Norwich would be a suitable place for a modern ground-level power supply type of tram, the Bordeaux tramway being an example.


Just in case any is concerned about the idea of tower blocks, perhaps I should have said sky scrapper but it this kind of thing I had in mind, which are current proposals for Liverpool, from a distance they would provide a great view of Norwich and look good when looking from the city centre out.
From the Liverpool Echo

From the Liverpool Echo

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Liverpool’s Draft Local Plan Consultation: The directors cut.

After several months most of the comments for Liverpool City Council's Draft Liverpool Local Plan seem to be in or at least the first 1137 of them. So as a follow up to my seminal Hell in the PDF:Liverpool’s Draft Local Plan Consultation I thought I would comment on the comments.
There is only one set of cloned comments from the supporters of Sefton Meadows, the idea seems to be that if you repeat a lie often enough it will become true. The are filled with the normal false environmental claims and due to a mistake by LCC, some of the locations of these commenters was released. Showing that the vast majority could only be termed vested interests.
Some councillors seem to have gone for the mass voting scheme as well where all 3 of a ward's councillors would submit the same comments.
One of the main misconceptions of the green commentators is that grass can somehow aid in the fight against global warming. It cannot for a couple of reasons, every so often it is mown down, doing this uses energy which at the moment if diesel. I'm not sure exactly what happens to the cuttings but unless they are sealing in vacuum packs and placed into the disused coal mines around St Helens, then the carbon they contain will soon be back in the atmosphere.
One of the councils own departments recommends adopting a system pioneered in Bristol where instead of replacing any trees removed with a sapling. The number of saplings planted is proportional to the girth of the tree. This is the Bristol Tree Replacement Standard it seems very sensible to me.
The exact process from now on is a little unclear but by the end of 2017, the comments the full plan is supposed to be ready. Though when it becomes legally binding is not clear. How the comments will be assessed and integrated has not be made clear, there dow not seem to be anything other than a very vague provision for some kind of feedback. I suspect a lot of the comments will just quietly be ignored. No public committee meetings no week of debate on a comment by comment basis by the councillors. For a document that may be very important to the future of the city, the lack of public debate is quite astounding. Especially if you consider the kind of scrutiny thatHS2 was given the transport committee, were multiple members of the public were called in to expand or explain on their comments.
Surely it is worth a week of the councils time to debate this in public and with the public, if for no other reason than to let the population see how the council works.
Any chance Malc?

Monday, 7 November 2016

Paddington Village

Paddington Village: Spatial Regeneration Framework

By council standard's this is quite short at only 53 pages of A4 or 105 pages of A5 depending how you look at it. It has a contents page with no internal hyperlinks. Hypertext was first postulated in 1945, first implemented in 1968, it would be nice to think the council could actually use them properly by 2017? Producing documents to the PDF/A format allows internal links, it is ridiculous to produce a document that is not designed for e-reading.

What I actually said

I believe that the location of the car park is flawed. Placing a multi-storey car park directly over the railway cutting is the sensible things to do. This has been done in several places in the UK. Other structures have also been built. In Liverpool, the section of cutting through University Place has been covered. See for more details. This frees up more space for buildings or green infrastructure.
Not only should green roofs be encouraged on site, so should green agriculture see & & Space is limited but as with the railway cuttings no space should be left unused. It is a pity that with Networks Rails proposed remodelling of the Lime Street Approach the opportunity is not taken to enclose the cutting.
Additional pedestrian and cyclists connections to Edge Hill station should also be incorporated.

What I meant

The lack of recommended uses for the roof space is a bit worrying. A building properly built with a roof that uses the sunlight for one purpose or another is making full use of the land if that roof is also used for growing things then it could be argued that it is a zero loss of green space as far as biology is concerned.
The other thing was how rectilinear all the proposed designs where I do like some curves in the buildings.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Pete Burns

So Pete Burns has died and the musical wannabes and art types are beside themselves. Well my impression of him was that he was a git. I sure he suffered a fair amount of crap when growing up, mostly the scallies but that doesn't excuse his behaviour when humiliating people who didn't share his taste in music or his outlook. The stories the people tell about him in Probe are true and I'm sure he upset a fair number of people in their teenage years. I was a prog rock/heavy metal fan and going into Probe, when Burns was there, was just a pain, just enjoying snide little remarks etc. I used to just rummage through the Albums out front there was just too much sneering if you asked for something the staff didn't like in Probe.
Lots of the comments about him have referred to him being High NRG and High maintenance, which to me sounds like he was an absolute pain in the arse. The kind of git who would put music on loud at 5am and then complain about someone putting music on at 3pm because he was trying to sleep.
I have had several comments deleted when being critical of Burns on Liverpool sites, most of which were just pretty plain stories about what he was like in Probe.
The one thing I am sure about those is that he wouldn't have given a flying fuck about what I said about him, he knew he was a screaming bitch and didn't care, those who want to play this side of him down, and dealt my comments would have incurred his scorn for being so fucking childish. He might not have been that nice, IMHO, but at least he was honest unlike his fandom.
I'd happily have Burns alive and Pete Price dead if that any consolation.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

The Programmer's dilemma

When faced with any new task, that isn't the writing of software the first question that any self-respecting programmer will ask is "Can I write some software to do it", if the answer is yes, then a junior with perhaps as little as 5 years under their belt, will proceed to write it.
Towards the end of their first 5 years, they may begin to realise that spending 2 weeks writing a small utility that automates a process that takes 3 hours by hand needs some justification.

The will after some time come up with an inequality like the one below.

Time to write app + (time to prepare app + time to run app)* times job needs doing < (time to do by hand*times job needs doing)

and an app to do it, as, of course, that is the only way to get reliable results, basic arithmetic is not a software developer's strong point, computer science is, after all, a branch of mathematics.
Of course, this is only Version 1 of the software and its inadequacies will become apparent somewhere towards the beginning of gamma testing when it begins to indicate that software you actually want to write is not viable.
The obvious flaw in the calculation is that it does not take into account the number of similar tasks that the application could be rewritten to help with and the time saved in writing these. 

They will after some time come up with an inequality like the one below.

Number of similar app * ((Time time to write app-Time saved if first app written)+((time to prepare app + time to run app)* times job needs doing))  <
Number of similar app *(time to do by hand*times job needs doing)

again, of course, this will need to be developed as software Version 2. 

Well of course soon you will see the flaw that writing this app or a version of it for different types of task, which have different numbers of preparation tasks and post run tasks, is not fully catered for, and is going to need to be handled by some similar but different software. This means that Version 3 will not now be an application but will be a Library or Generic class with some demonstration builds, 2 of which will be implications of Versions 1 & 2.

To make it even more even more generally available Version 4 will be a set of Excel macros, while version 5 will be an Excel clone. This is actually how all truly useful software is conceived and developed any other way just leads to things which would be better done on paper. All good software is the results of Software Developers or at a push, computer scientists solving their problems while trying to do other things that interest them, most of which are writing programmes. If people start trying to develop software to fix other peoples problems we will end up with it being fitted nasally.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Moorfields North Junction

The master plan for the expanded knowledge quarter has been released and a Merseyrail station for Paddington is mentioned, again and even appears on one of the CGIs. See Revealed: billion-pound Liverpool masterplan to create THOUSANDS of jobs and transform part of city. Other than a connection to central it doesn't say much else about it.

In my blog A New Edge Hill, I speculated that it was the resurrection of the Edge Hill Spur scheme, part of the original plan for Merseyrail(MALTS). This would involve building tunnels along the route in yellow and blue below. This would require about 1 mile of new tunnel.


Some have suggested the alternative below, which uses more of the length of the Victoria/Waterloo tunnel and about half a mile of new tunnels, to connect to Merseyrail north of Moorfields. The light blue section is the new tunnels.

While the new tunnels may be half the length of the MALTS scheme, overall length is longer, as a much longer section of the old tunnel is used, and while tunnelling may be thought to be the expensive bit, building the stations is far more expensive and restoring the old tunnel will not be cheap. Once you have got all the kit on site and people trained up the difference in cost will be minimal. It is also unlikely that this northern junction could be constructed without interfering with services. The preparatory work in the 70s done for the Edge Hill spur, south of central makes that much more likely.
The major argument against this plan is service provision, currently the northern line at Moorefields has 12 trains per hour passing in each direction, any new service would have to fit into that.
Then there is the question of where the trains will go after central, currently of the 3 services running into central only the Southport service continues on to Hunts Cross.  The other two either sit at a platform or use the reversing siding, this was not what the station was designed for, it was designed with the Edge Hill spur in mind so that all services would pass through, 1 of the terminating services would have gone on to St Helens and another to the outer loop or perhaps Widnes South. Adding an extra service, which terminated, would most likely mean adding an extra platform which would not be cheap.
The Edge Hill spur scheme could add access to both old tunnels, so that, eventually, more city centre stations could be added, with connections to central and possibly the airport.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

A New Mersey Railway tunnel

For 6 weeks there will be no direct civilised form of transport between the Wirral and Liverpool as Merseyrail refurbish the lines in the original Mersey Tunnel, which is 130 years old this year. So things have moved on a bit since it was first built and you would hope that in real terms building a new one would be cheaper.
The original railway where about £500,000 per mile in 1885, about £57 million today. The Queensway Road tunnel of 1934 cost £8 million or about £517 million in 2016, while, the Kingsway tunnel was twin bore and completed in 1972  for £33.5 million which is about  2016 £470 million in 2016.
The Crossrail tunnels 2011 twin bore tunnels cost £69 million per km in 2011 about £80 million now. I'm using Stephen Morley's site for calculating the modern value, other sites give different results.

The orange line one possible route connecting the Northern line, heading south, with the Wirral line toward Chester & Ellesmere port and beyond, it 3.2 km long, giving a total of £256 million. Given the improvements in tunnelling technology and bearing in mind the extra expense that was put into the approached for Kingsway and that it is double bore of larger diameter and that Queensway has an even larger diameter that does seem like a reasonable cost. It could be cheaper if a single bore was used, which may be allowable with such a short tunnel, though modern safety regulations could mean it has to be 2. The short blue line would allow the integration of parts of the Birkenhead dock lines.
One reason to build it, other than to improve redundancy, would be to allow extra trains directly to Wrexham, through the original tunnel or if a junction facing Hamilton square was also included then a loop using both tunnels via the Stock Interchange Line could be provided.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Labour Conference Day 4a

The wind is blowing but the wind turbines are not going around.
On the streets of Liverpool, amphetamine prices have reached an all-time, fueled by the need of delegates to stay awake during Diana Abbott's speeches.
LSD has been stockpiled in expectation of a big demand in perpetration for the leader's speech, while combi packs of Prozac and E are available for Wednesday.
Special supplies of 20:20 have been rushed in for Dennis Skinner and an emergency order has been placed with both Greggs and Sayers on the expectation of big demand from John Prescot after Joe Anderson turned up and answered the big question of who ate all the pies.
The Rosicrucians were everywhere aided by the fact the did not exist.
Ships chandlers across Liverpool reported brisk business as the Fabian wing of the party battened down for squall Momentum to blow itself out.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Aldi The Village Bakery Eccles Cakes

One of the finer things in life is the Eccles cake, with its light flaky pastry it is far better than the dry husk of a Chorley cake or Welsh cake, these inferior products show that the sum is not always greater than the parts. A true Eccles cake warm is a fantastic thing, with a light custard or vanilla sauce, well worth the risk associated with such a things, especially if you wear the recommended safety gear.

If you can get to Sayers just after the have been taken out of the oven then you are in luck, these are possibly the best Eccles cakes in the world. The Aldi cakes are of course prepared off site and come plastic wrapped but they are wonderfully moist and perhaps just a little too sweet, the slight tang of the fruit is missing but all in all a very good effort, especially at about 95p, compared to about 160p for Real Lancashire Eccles Cakes which are too close to a Chorley Cake for comfort and rather dry.

I do not bake but this looks like a decent recipe to me
Hobbs House Bakery, though there a plenty out there and extra bit of zingy zest does not go amiss.

7.5 out of 10, best you will get in a plastic pack or cold from Sayers etc. 

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Labour Conference Day 5

Well, it appears that the drugs were working, at least for me, I managed to hang around gormlessly outside the conference for all 5 days. Today though was a special day, I got there just before kicking out time and got to watch the Labour party leave on mass, all in all, it was a collection of the terribly mundane, trooping out back into reality or from a couple of overheard fragments straight back into the nearest pub.
In a feat or organization, not seen since Corbyn took over, one group even dispatched several members before the speech ended to grab places or report back on vacancies in bars, at least 2 of their reccie teams found that other more determined groups hand grabbed prime positions in the area and watched the speech from the pub.
Outside the entrance, a small group of Corbynites had gathered and had a go at some of the realist members of the party as they left, with what will be described as thrilling and witty repartee in The Canary and shallow slogans everywhere else.
Corbynite prepares and attempted haranguing Tom Watson
First out of the building was Derek Hatton, in a hurry to get back to his Merc.
Derek does one.
The most visible presence outside the conference all week has been the pro-European one, each day has had a different group or 2 for who BREXIT is a key issue.
Some reports from inside the halls suggest that inside the atmosphere has been a bit more bad-tempered than usual but under control. The noise made when Corbyn left, the conference or his hotel were significant but not overwhelming. While JC may be able to get his supporters to pay some cash to have a say it doesn’t look like he has got them to turn up for the conference. It seems like that, as with the other humdrum work being a party member should require, they cannot be bothered to do it, any commitment beyond the odd rally is beyond them, well beyond the sheep anyway, not sure about the shepherds, but after last night speeches at the Black-E, there will likely be 1 less shepherd to worry about.
Clive Lewis claiming the conference hasn't been good for his liver.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Labour Conference Day 3

It was raining so people were not standing around to chat, though I did talk to some people handing out invites to their own fringe meeting. They seem to be in agreement with the views of some others that the general mood of the conference was a bit down.

Had a quick look through one of the big windows into some form of Atrium, saw the beast of Bolsover and left. At least it getting me out of the flat for the afternoon walk a little earlier, so I at least am enjoying conference a bit.
If you are the person I spoke to about BREXIT and the legal hurdles here is the link.
The best stunt outside was by Associate British Ports(APB) with some men singing shanties, I doubt they were from ABPs operation down at Garston Docks.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Labour Conference Day 2

Well! I did go back mainly for the free WiFi, in the course of this I took in the save the Liverpool Women's Hospital march and rally as well.
First things first the decision about where is best for the hospital should be based on clinical imperatives there are competing factors, pregnancy and birth are not illnesses and should be treated as such, this is the official position but it also can result in emergency admission. The decision should not be a political football for either side of the argument.
March turns onto Berry Street
The first thing I noticed about the placards was the usual SWP brand and Left Unity, there were the usual SWP salesmen, has anyone ever seen an SWP saleswoman? Given the exodus from the SWP, I think the entire membership was here. Given the some of the reasons for the exodus it makes the SWP presents rather tasteless. See The SWP leadership has turned the party into a sinking ship
While some organisation come to show support the SWP is usually there to gather support and to make itself seem bigger than it is, I doubt the people carrying the SWP brand banners were actually SWP, it just is just more of their attempts to co-opt members.
The March probably contained 1000 or so by the time they turned up at the entrance to the dock estate, that number quickly dropped off as the speakers began, the only one I recognised was Diane Abbot, though Tony Mulhearn was also there and the I think Lesley Mahmood, who is one of the founders of the group, both ex-Militant, Richard Branson and Tony Blair came in for particular treatment, which you would think was a bit strange, given that neither has anything to do with the hospital or the NHS these days, and the Blair/Brown governments did massively increase funding for the NHS. In short, it had descended into rather typical Corbynite/SWP territory. So basically your average every day hijacking of a good cause. If you are holding a rally do the sensible thing and ban SWP placards, they are claiming that you support them, they are not supporting you.
I did have another look around the conference and yet again saw both Dennis Skinner and Marie Le Conte, still wearing those bloody shoes, the only addition to my I Spy book of MPs was Hilary Benn. The Conference seemed to be hiding in the woods.

I missed going to the meeting of the Continuity Labour party, with Hilary Benn, because I didn't know it was happening but the Fabian wings meeting spilt onto the street.

Labour Conference Day 1

Well not actually the conference in full actually the women's conference. I don't actually have a pass for the conference, so this is basically what I heard randomly walking around and for long periods sitting on the large concrete blocks by the entrance to the arena area. The last one I did this for was the LibDems in 2014, in the same place, the BT Conference centre. That had a lot more people security but they were in government then, today's game of spot the special branch officer, was really a non-starter though there were a fair number of normal cops in the area and at least 3 evidence gathering teams with videos.
Saw 5 MPs, Lucian Berger, Louise Ellman and Angela Eagle were local, while Denis Skinner & Harriet Harman were not. There may have been others around but didn't recognise them. Saw only a few Journos, one being Marie Le Conte who has since blocked me, for taking the piss out of her god awful boots, on twitter.
Denis Skinner walked past me claiming loudly "the fucking woman with the safety pin has fooking following me around all day". Skinner looked and sounded every bit the brightly dressed arsehole I have always imagined him to be.
The main topic of decision that was in the air was, of course, Corbyn's victory, and the attitudes to it were quite predictable from different groups. There were some very happy Asian men and some unhappy sharp-suited young white men, who at various times decided to stand or sit by me and talk quite loudly of their opinions.
The main reason for going down was just to assess the mood and see what people who go to these things look like, and on that basis today was a bit of a failure, there simply were not enough people out and about in the precinct but I'm not sure I can be arsed doing it tomorrow, might just swing by on my afternoon promenade.
One thing I must do is hunt down the alleged Lib Dem recruitment stand.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

The Green Line

The quest for more green space in Liverpool continues.

The High Line

New York has the High Line Park, a disused overhead railway converted to a park.
The High Line by Beyond my Ken
Unfortunately, the Liverpool Overhead Railway was not only closed but demolished in the 1950s

Even after that had gone, between Sandhills and Exchange, there were a large collection of raised lines of which only a small amount now remain, some of which carry Merseyrail, a small unused section running parallel to Love Lane seem to have greened itself but there is no access. It only 250m long but with something to separate it from the rail would make a park. Some of the bridges over roads have been removed, so it would not be the cheapest park in the world.

The Very Low Line

There are a lot of people asking for more green places in Liverpool, the problem is there are very few places that do not have more profitable uses, but there are a few.
When Lime Street station was first opened  it was connected to Edge Hill via a tunnel. The tunnel was not well ventilated and the build up of smoke caused vision problems, which lead to several accidents, so in 1881 large portions of the tunnel were opened out.
Opening out the tunnel
As time past and signalling improved the ventilation became irrelevant and some places had the cuttings covered over. The most obvious section was the section through the university from Brownlow Hill to Crown Street in 1965, only a small section now remains open.

Courtesy of Graham Newell

Courtesy of Graham Newell
 The changes can be seen here on side by side maps.
Lime Street Approach, cuttings outlined in black
The total length of the cuttings combined is about 676 meters, with a width of at least 16 meters, which give a total area of 10,816 m2, 1.08 hectares or 2.6 acres.
Cuttings North of Kirkdale on various lines.
These are deep cuttings, the system used to cover these was large I-Beams at the surface level, so leaving a large amount of space over the lines. The walls of the cutting act as the load bearing element. I'm sure the beams could be placed closer to the track or arches within the cutting but this might be more difficult while the track is in use. Though if you were building a structure above it would provide some basement space.  

In addition to the cuttings above, there are others in Dingle.

The Not so Low Line

There is another technique that has been used down south most notably at Gerrards Cross, though it made the news for all the wrong reasons, see the Gerrards Cross Tunnel Collapse. This is suitable for shallower or wider cuttings, it could even be used on surface lines to reattach 2 pieces of land, bisected by the railway leaving with only a modest hill.

Timo Newton-Syms
Timo Newton-Syms
As you can see it was quite a simple idea put an arch over the line then back fill. Like a rather delayed Cut and Cover operation. This was all done while the line remained in operation. The technique is sufficiently common that specialised systems exist and several projects have been completed since Gerrard's Cross, such as  BEBO® Concrete Arch System & Tech Span  PreCast Arch
There are several places that such a system could be used on Liverpool's various used and disused railway, perhaps the most obvious are near Kirkdale and perhaps the main line at Speke.

Things built over railway lines

Mutley Plain Car Park, Plymouth

Spring Road Station
The bridge beyond station is a multi-storey car-park built for the former Lucas factory site off to the right.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Hell in the PDF:Liverpool’s Draft Local Plan Consultation

Liverpool’s Draft Local Plan Consultation

First impressions

This is possibly one of the most tedious documents I have ever read. Though given the subject matter that is entirely excusable. What isn't is that in this age of PDF files with hypertext ability and portable e-reader when the draft is provided in a PDF form that none of the advantages of the format is used. this is clearly a document designed to be printed and at 301 pages that will not be cheap. Far better in this day and age to take full advantage of the technology available and have the print version slightly compromised, than the other way around.

In the beginning

The first 5 chapters are mainly descriptions of the city and its history which are not really controversial or interesting, at least from my point of view. I will point out that the line "Liverpool lies at the heart of the former county of Merseyside" is wrong. The county still exists it is only the metropolitan council that was abolished.

Chapter 6: Liverpool City Centre

6.7/6.8 Commercial Quarter/Pumpfields

The first thing that occurs to me on look at map 1, is that I've always assumed that the centre goes further north. The map seems to truncate it at Kingsway. I would include the area bounded by Vauxhall road and Sandhills Lane. This is in part just down to my own judgement but also based on its history, with the likes of the Tate and Lyle factory. I view the Eldonian village as being misplaced, a prime example of land that should have been reserved for industry/business or high-density housing, not a semi detached suburb. The area should be treated as an extension of Pumpfields and be of similar mixed-use high density. This would blend in with Liverpool Waters and help provide the commercial space needed by providing some large plots without the restrictions of the World Heritage Area.

6.10 The Waterfront

If the city centre is extended up to Sandhills Lane, then this area should be extended at least to include Stanley dock and incorporate all the docks, not in their original use. Putting a boundary through them will just make planning difficult if there are conflicting requirements in the different divisions.

6.38 Historic Quarter

Sandwich between the Commercial and the Historic quarters is the area between Dale Street and Exchange street. This area needs some special attention due to the street layout, which is amongst the oldest in the city. The area around Hackins Hey has great potential with the current street layout. Development in the area needs to take advantage of this intimate possibly medieval street layout and produce an area with character. To just bulldoze it for a large office block what not use it to its greatest advantage. It will require an imaginative scheme, which keeps the current street layout.

6.41 Residential Neighbourhoods

The document talks about Marybone first, which seems to be a totemic place for the council and refers to it and later L1 as Older established areas with low-density housing. While people have lived in these areas for a longer time,the low-density thing is a fairly recent, thing as can be seen in this picture of Fontenoy Gardens, in Marybone, Gerard Gardens was over the road.

Fontenoy Gardens
and these in L1.

Kent Gardens
Sussex Gardens
The move to low density has changed the character of the area, I think some plans need to be put in place to turn it back to high density. In addition to these areas mentioned I'd want the area previously occupied by Myrtle Gardens and some of the other "Gardens" recovered, as well as the Eldonian village.
While people complain about tower blocks, there seems to be nothing but nostalgia for this size of buildings. Designed and built properly they can be fit for the modern era and at the same time take pressure off the green belt. Within the City centre area, there needs to be a minimum density specification as well as a minimum height for new residential. Some buildings in Marybone adjacent to Leeds street do seem to conform to something like the requirements, but semi detached do not.
I'm not sure of the ownership of these buildings but an active plan that respects the rights of the people to live in the area and maintains the standard of their housing, but works toward moving to a higher density regime, should be put in place. Semi detached have a place but it is not in the city and not in any area that is urban. I think this is a necessary step but one that would require more bottle than the council has, even to suggest it.

6.115 Transport and accessibility

Mention is made of reopening a St James station and the provision of a new station for Liverpool Waters. Later in  14.9 the Edge spur is referred to, though only the Wapping Tunnel option mentioned. The Merseyside Area land use Transportation study (MALTS) project report of the late 60s makes similar costed proposals and offers an alternate plan which seems to be better. I have outlined possible further changes in my blog A New Edge Hill. The proposals made by the Mayor for Paddington Place station would seem to rely on using the Victoria tunnel

This would use the complete length of both Wapping and Victoria tunnel which in addition to the link to Central would provide a link to the waterfront. The two tunnels being linked by tram lines and a full train tram service providing a loop from Edge hill.
In the council's document, there is no mention of Trams or Train/Trams, which seem to reflect a bias in Merseytravel rather than an objective view. In 14.8 the tunnels are described as having a junction with the Northern Line, no such junction exists or has ever existed.

7 Employment Land and the Economy

Several references are made to the knowledge economy, this is a very wide area, I would suggest emphasising some more specific areas. Some mention has been made in other places of what is fundamentally Industry 4.0, this and several other areas could be emphasised. Perhaps 1 could be medical science, building on the current base and the proposed Royal College of physicians. It may advisable to look to a way of exploiting the renewed interest in space-related activities, while launch and recovery are unlikely, mission control is not, which could be extended to include the control of commercial UAVs/Drones globally. The exploitation of UAVs in urban environments might be a tag.

7.33 Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

The extension of the runway and a decent rail connection are important. The extension into the river should be considered. While the protected status is a problem, provided some remedial work is undertaken such as removing part of the dry land to keep the mud flat area the same or perhaps greater, the nature of the reserve would allow quick recovery of the reserve. See needs to be longer at Liverpool.

8 Housing Provision

8.1.2 Land at Chaucer Street, Grosvenor Street, Juvenal Street & Peover Street

I think this area may conflict with area desired by Merseyside Police for their new HQ. This and the area once occupied by Gerard Gardens to the south is a prime site for high-density development. Merseyside Police should not be allowed to squander it on a low rise building and worse still with above ground car parking. See Cops getting away with daylight robbery.

8.1.5-8.1.8 Land Between Great Mersey Street and Lancaster Street

This and several other plots along Scotland road are identified. I believe these need to be at least terraces designs and preferably above 2 stories, simply to give the feeling of entering the city centre. This need for some theatre on the main trunk routes into the centre does not seem to be addressed, another place that this needs to be taken into account is West Derby road, Edge lane, Park Road and the bottom of Kensington.  The areas outside of them have become separated from the city centre psychologically if not physically.

10 Urban Design

The rise of the car, though it has been going on for over a century still seem to be problematic. With it comes the need for car parks, which are in all honesty a waste of space, unless there is a very good reason all parking space associated with new build should be within the footprint of the building, either underground or as an undercroft.

12 Green Infrastructure

This part of the document is incomplete and waiting on Simon O'Brien's report.

One of the first things mentioned is the creation of 2 new woodlands. One I suspect is the park Melrose Meadows in Kirkdale. The other may be Grant Gardens, a park which had 0 visitors on a bright May bank holiday. Personally, I would like to see it naturalise itself, it would be a good educational resource as it went through the process of Ecological succession.


A couple of comments are made about the impact of trees, which are I think inaccurate, firstly there is the mention of oxygen generation, this is quite minor especially for deciduous trees, most of the atmospheric oxygen comes from phytoplankton. The second is carbon uptake, it is true that trees do take up carbon but they do that mostly while they are young, once they reach maturity the carbon uptake drops dramatically. To improve the impact, once a tree reaches maturity, it needs to be felled and objects made of it, while a new tree takes up its space. The trees and the wood they produce need to be seen as a resource and a crop in order to maximise carbon capture.
Trees are far more important than grass, any area that is kept as only grass, is an oversized lawn and either needs to have a use as a sports pitch or be left to return to woodland. If someone can find a way of introducing red squirrels and excluding greys even better.

14 Sustainable Transport and Accessibility


In addition to the routes names the routes to Wigan, Warrington Wrexham, Preston and Manchester need considering. Viewing rail connections as IntraCity, IntraRegional or InterCity makes a gap in the IntraRegional rail apparent. A journey from Kirkdale to Salford Crescent is slow and makes that commuter route untenable. This sort of IntraRegional link needs to be addressed perhaps by decision between Mersey Travel and adjacent Transport Authorities, rather than with London. See  Liverpool does not need HS3 to connect to Manchester, it needs it to connect to Leeds.


A train/tram line along the route of the old overhead railway, perhaps even a raised line, with connections to Edge Hill via the Wapping and Victoria tunnels should be considered.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Lymm to Lime Street

Having worked out a route for HS2 to connect to Liverpool with minimum fuss and cost I thought I had better price it. I found some estimates done in 2007 by Network rail for upgrading various lines to GB & GC gauge to take double decker trains or extra long trains. It is Version: 1.21Preliminary Evaluation of Double Deck Extra Long Train Operations Table 1.3 provided most of the information.

The plan I outlined requires the upgrade of the Ditton to Lime Street section which already has OHLE, so I used the figures for the London-Ipswich Route which is similar.

For Bank Quay to Ditton, the line exists but is not electrified, so I took the low from London -> Brighton and the high from London to Southampton.

To estimate the reinstatement of the line from East of Lymm to Bank Quay was a little trickier, I took the numbers from HS2 own estimates for Phase 2 and took out the irrelevant bits. Such as there being no Tunnels this gives a cost of £64 million per mile of which on £17 is construction costs.

Route Miles Min m£ Max m£ Low Per Mile High Per Mile
London →Brighton 51 810 1200 15.8823529412 23.5294117647
London →Ipswich 68 890 1340 13.0882352941 19.7058823529
London →Southampton 79 610 1440 7.7215189873 18.2278481013
London →Oxford 63 800 1720 12.6984126984 27.3015873016
HS new build

64.375 126.333504

Ditton-> Lime Street 10 130.8823529412 197.0588235294

Warrington BQ->Ditton 8 61.7721518987 188.2352941176

192.6545048399 385.2941176471

2007->2016 Pounds 1.31 252.3774013403 504.7352941176

East of Lymm 8 515 1010.668032

Total 26 767.3774013403 1515.4033261177

from my spreadsheet East of Lymm to Lime Street.

If we take the cost of East of Lymm down to just construction, then the total cost is £469m, if you wanted you could knock another £130 million off and just have the classic compatible running into Lime Street. I'm assuming that there would be little to saved by using only W10 on reinstatements and upgrades. So that should be done to GC gauge.
These numbers do not include building a new station at Lime Street or a complex remodeling of Ditton junction, to bring the lines in from Warrington to the centre 2 without crossing at grade, which would be needed for optimal performance, as would a complex junction between HS2 and this spur or the extra work needed on the viaduct over the Manchester Ship canal. Nor does it involve and remodelling of the route around Warrington Bank Quay. This is simply to get the trains through with no traffic.
So a cost of between £0.5 billion and £1.5bmillion doesn't sound unreasonable, just to be on the safe side say 1 billion. It is still less than Liverpool City council offered to pay.