Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

Another way of delaying trains…

27th October 2007

The fact that Manchester’s main railway station, Piccadilly, has only got two through platforms (13 and 14) and the fact that they seem to bolted onto the side of the station like an afternoon does surprise me. The disappointingly underused Manchester Victoria is far better in that respect and, given a more usable tram service, would be a great asset. I know that some may disagree with me regarding the Metrolink but I always feel that there is a certain detachment about the thing and now resort to walking instead; I have my own ideas about how it might be routed. As things are, I may press taxis into service for those occasions when time is not in plentiful supply.

As it is, funnelling people onto two train platforms at an otherwise busy station can only cause overcrowding, particularly if they are the only ones served by northbound and westbound services. And I saw plenty of evidence of that last Sunday morning while headed for the South Pennines.

In fact, a Virgin service to Glasgow that I had used when coming from Macclesfield was delayed by people not being able to board it. Admittedly, it was a Voyager but there were two four car sets forming the train. Nevertheless, passengers didn’t realise this and all crowded onto the first four coaches. Amazingly, the train manager didn’t put them right for five minutes and the train got delayed more than the thirteen minutes of lateness that it had when it reached the station. it didn’t look good and I was glad that I didn’t get an idea of heading to the Lake District on the day that I witnessed this.

The following service was delayed by the Virgin one ahead of it and it too was afflicted by slow boarding. In contrast to the service preceding it, a robust vocal intervention from the train conductor attempted to speed things up. And that was on a Transpennine Express to Blackpool North so Virgin could learn a thing or two.

The whole exhibition brings another thing to mind: going north from Manchester. This will soon be entirely in the hands of Transpennine Express if one is to travel without any changes of train during the journey. Quite how they will cope with passenger and luggage volumes will be interesting to see. Modern trains aren’t particularly brilliant when it comes to luggage storage anyway. Thankfully, the Virgin option will remain north of Crewe since there might be a lot of lessons to be learnt by the powers that be before they realise how it should be done. Let’s hope that such learning doesn’t take as long as the Piccadilly through platform saga to result in improvements.

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