Manchester Tramblers
The second crossing
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© Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2017
Geoff’s Rail Diaries
9 March 2017
There are two routes now, for trams crossing the centre of Manchester between St Peter’s Square and Victoria - the “Second Crossing” opened just over a week ago, on 26 February. We’d better go and have a look. Early last year, we’d ridden on the trams from the airport to Bury, via East Didsbury, and returned from Rochdale after an interesting bus journey. Today we would travel along the other routes, and take a ride on the new city-centre section. “We’ll take the first tram from Piccadilly that’s going in the right direction” - it was going to the airport (or was it East Didsbury?) so we’ll need to change somewhere along the way. Deansgate will do. We’re heading for Altrincham and Eccles, whichever comes first... ... it was Altrincham and, remarkably, my first trip along this former BR line, now on its third electrification. The joint LMS/ LNER line from London Road (later Piccadilly) was wired up at 1500v DC in 1931. Forty years later, it was converted to 25kv AC, which was used to power conventional EMUs until 1991. It was then converted to a tramway, connecting Altrincham with Bury via the city centre streets. Back to Cornbrook, where we catch a tram to Eccles. The first stretch winds around the northern edge of the ship canal docks, before turning into the Eccles New Road, running mostly along the roadway to the tram terminus. There’s nothing to keep us there, so we’ll head back to the city centre... St Peter’s square, for photos of the new four-platform tram stop and the new track in Princess Street. And lunch...
The only route we haven’t travelled* now (taking into account last year’s visit) is to Ashton-under-Lyne, but we need to ride the new stretch to Victoria first, then catch another tram back to Piccadilly gardens. Here we board a crowded 2-car unit, and stand / lean all the way to our last tram terminus for the day. It’s not far from Ashton tram stop to the railway station - let’s take a ride to Stalybridge. The station buffet there has its own particular charms... ...suitably refreshed, we’re heading homewards now, using a variety of trains. If we ride to Victoria, then catch a service heading out via Salford Crescent, we can change at the latter to a Piccadilly-bound service. There’s a home- bound train at 17.30, and though we’re nicely in time to catch it, it’s not a nice time to catch a train. “We could go on the Bournemouth train, which leaves three minutes before ours, and change into ‘our’ train at Crewe”. An interesting idea, but we almost regretted it. It stopped outside Crewe “waiting for a platform”, but there was no such problem for the 17.30, which passed us while we waited, and slipped into a platform ahead of us. Oops! Our Voyager was moving again moments later. A quick sprint (getting too old for this kind of thing? Not yet...) across the footbridge - yes, we’ve made it. The only problem is getting into the train. Will they be able to close the doors? We’re vertical sardines for the short run back to Nantwich and the car. Will we be able to squeeze past the others and get out there? Happily the chap with the bicycle (!) was getting out there too, along with 60 others. The 2-car train was still packed when it left. There’s something sadly wrong with our railways.
Passing trams near Deansgate At Deansgate Altrincham arrival At Altrincham Arriva arrival at Eccles St Peter's Square - new tramstop In Princess Street Onto the 2nd crossing Arrival at St Peter's Square Behind the memorial City centre scene Out behind the memorial South-east side of the stop 3113 heads for East Didsbury Ashton-under-Lyne Ashton - Aldi and Ikea Ashton semaphore We've arrived at Stalybridge It's a proper railway station Trans-Pennine Express Stalybridge- platform 4 arrival *apart from the short spur to Media City...