The second crossing
© 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
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...
...to 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
...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