Thursday, 16 June 2016

A New Edge Hill

Today I spent a few hours in the Liverpool Records office, reading some of the early plans for Merseyrail, mainly one called MALTS(Merseyside Area Land Use/Transportation Study: final report: report A to the Steering Committee) which was as much fun as it sounds.

Edge Hill Spur

One thing that comes over clearly is how important the Edge Hill link is, the purpose of the line was to prove a connection from Central low level to Edge Hill for trains heading south on the Northern Line, even though it was not done, the junction, as it was built. made allowance for the later completing of the line.
2 slight different scenarios were suggested in the document.

1. Use the Wapping tunnel, white in the above picture, providing 2-way connections accessed via the blue tunnel(0.25 miles), which would need to be built. The also used a then existent fly over to take one track over the approaches to Lime Street to avoid conflicts with the main line,essentially a flying junction.

2. Use the Wapping tunnel only, as a connection for trains going down to central. Trains go up to Edge hill, after a short section in the Wapping tunnel, used the yellow tunnel(0.7 miles) to cross under the mainline and connect to the Victoria tunnel for access to Edge Hill, so essentially a burrowing junction. This is useful as the flyover has since been removed.

A third scheme has since been suggested.

3. Use the blue & Yellow tunnels for trains in both direction. This also avoids the major conflict but is not quite as efficient as using the flyover.

Whichever way it was done the line would provide access to St Helens via Huyton to trains on Merseyrail. If I had to pick I'd pick scheme 3, with some stations such as Blackburne Place & Oxford road and Joe's Folly or Paddington Square as it likes to be called.

One of the major advantages is that by extending the Ormskirk service to St Helens and perhaps the Kirkby train to Ditton, space at central would be freed up, no more would train's be standing at what were intended to be through platforms.

Update: 15/08/2016 In the Liverpool Echo Article Wirral line upgrade: why will passengers face six months of misery? the picture toward the bottom with the train passing through may show the tunnel prepared for the spur leaving to the left.

Closing Lime Street

The bit that surprised me was that in 1969, when the document was written, serious consideration was given as to whether Lime Street should be closed, with mainline services finishing at a new station at Edge Hill. The idea would have been to use the Edge Hill spur to provide access to the city centre, I could find no suggestion that even a small station should be provided at Lime Street.
Connected with a better underground system the proposal is not wholly impractical, though it would not be good for the prestige of the city as Lime Street station is a magnificent portal. This proposal is only a few paragraphs in the document and when it was written Central high level and Exchange were both still in use and the proposals may have led to one of them being retained. It is not practicable without them.
There is no mention in the document of using the full length of the Wapping and Victoria tunnels to provide a greater reach for the system but that could well have been an option.

HS2/HS3

Now with the possibility for HS2 & HS3 Lime Street is again looking rather small and difficult to expand, but while I would not close it, what would happen if an HS2/HS3 terminal was built at Edge Hill? With the full array of add-on services to spread people around the area. If the Stock Interchange Line(SIL) was brought back into service then trains from the Wirral could have direct access via the Edge Hill spur to the new station?
Providing a Tram-Train service down the Wapping tunnel along the strand and then back up the Waterloo Victoria and vice versa would connect large parts of the city. If really pushed then perhaps the Tram section could be overhead. The tram section is in purple on the top map.
Most non-GC services calling at Edge Hill would provide another line into the city or perhaps a dedicated shuttle with the mainline access to Lime Street reduced to just 3 lines.
My HS2/HS2 proposal has always involved getting to Ditton, then gauge expansion to Lime Street, some of the other proposals from 20 MilesMore still get us to Edge Hill.
It is a plan worth thinking about IMHO.

Stock Interchange Line(SIL) in red.

Update  26/10/2016

In Liverpool City Region Long Term Rail Strategy Merseytravel seemed to have opted for the Wapping Tunnel route, the original MALTS suggestion but all  the destinations mentioned are to the south, not St Helens, so no crossing the mainline. The SIL is also mentioned.




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