“Greater Manchester commuters will benefit from the Department for Transport’s announcement today to provide 20 extra rail carriages for Northern Rail, say the region’s transport leaders,” trumpets TfGM’s “Carriages boost for Rochdale and Calder Valley route” press release last week. Twenty extra carriages for services into Manchester Victoria, you say? Not really. We explain why.
You see, these twenty carriages – which “form part of the 650 additional carriages the Government will introduce onto the UK’s rail network by 2014” – are in fact five four-car electric train sets which were introduced to the Stansted Airport express in 1990 and arrive in northern England from Scotrail, where they currently operate in the Edinburgh area. The eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted the lack of overhead electrification on transpennine routes – so these trains will only get as far west as Bradford and Skipton. How then can these carriages benefit Greater Manchester?
Each four-car train has 293 seats – running six additional services per day on Yorkshire’s electrified suburban network would account for 1,758 seats of the 2,200 additional seats each weekday. That only leaves around an additional 450 seats per day for the three morning peak trains that will have extra carriages – so perhaps one morning peak-hour return journey into Victoria will get an extra two-car diesel unit? Don’t get us wrong: for the Littleborough and Rochdale commuters who will have a better chance of getting a seat in the morning, this is great news. It’s just not as spectacular as it first appears.
Thanks to Paul for the inspiration to write this piece!
[Image credit: “321902” by Alex Drennan on Flickr]