User:Cnbrb/sandbox/Manchester rapid transit schemes

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search


A 1910 map of railways in central Manchester

Manchester's mainline railway network historically suffered from poor north–south connections. The development of the railway network around Manchester in the 19th and 20th centuries had resulted in the location of major railway termini around the periphery of Manchester city centre. The main stations of Manchester Victoria in the north and Manchester London Road (now Manchester Piccadilly) in the south were built in the 1840s, followed by Manchester Central in 1880, all by rival companies using cheaper land on the fringes of the city centre.[1][2][3] Unlike central London, which had linked its stations with the London Underground, the stations were not connected, and as a result, a large area of Manchester's central business district was not served by rail transport.[4][3]

A tram passing Manchester Town Hall (c.1901)

Between 1877 and 1949 a tram system operated on Manchester streets. The earliest trams run by the Manchester Suburban Tramways Company were horse-drawn trams, but from 1901 electrically powered trams began to be introduced. A network of neighbouring municipal tramway systems such as Bury Corporation Tramways, Rochdale Corporation Tramways and Manchester Corporation Tramways expanded and overlapped across the city. By 1930, Manchester's tram network had grown to 163 miles (262 km) route miles, making it the third largest tram system in the United Kingdom. After World War II, tramways fell out of favour and local authorities began to replace trams with electric trolleybuses to reduce costs, and by 1949 the last Manchester tram line was closed. The trolleybus soon fell out of favour too with the growth of motor buses and the private motor car, and Manchester's trolleybuses were withdrawn from service in 1966.[5]

Early transit proposals[edit]

The first proposal to create a cross-city rail link came as early as 1839, when the railways into Manchester were still under construction. A plan was drawn up to build a underground railway line under the city to link the new London Road and Victoria stations, and parliamentary powers were obtained to begin the project. A major concern was that London Road station was built on a raised viaduct, and that a very deep lift shaft would have to be built to enable passenger interchange between the mainline and the underground platforms. This proved to be an engineering obstacle and the underground scheme did not proceed.[6][7]

London Road station underwent rebuilding and enlargement works from 1855-66, and it was proposed to build a cross-city railway viaduct to link it to Victoria station. By this time, Manchester city centre had become substantially built up and the construction works would have involved too much disruption.

City Circle Railway (1902)[edit]

City Circle Railway (1902)
VictoriaLancashire and Yorkshire Railway
Exchange Station
St Ann's Square
Tibb Street
Albert Square
Cheshire Lines CommitteeCentral Station
Piccadilly Gardens
Oxford RoadManchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway

In 1902 plans were published for the construction of a circular underground electric railway under the streets of central Manchester. The Manchester City Circle Railway was to follow a route from a station close to Victoria Station, with a stations at Tib Street/Whittle Street (Northern Quarter) and Oldham Street/Piccadilly Gardens, before turning south under Whitworth Street to Oxford Road. The route would then turn back north under the Rochdale Canal to a station at Mount Street to serve Central Station, with stations at Albert Square, St Ann's Square and Hunts Bank (to serve Exchange Station). The twin-bore tunnel would have cost £1.2 million and construction was to last seven years. A bill was sent to Parliament in January 1902 but was withdrawn before MPs could consider it.[8]

A scheme for a circular underground railway was revived in 1912, with a proposal for an additional branch running south to serve the University of Manchester. The project was abandoned when World War One broke out.[9]

Underground Railway (1926/28)[edit]

The underground railway scheme were once again revived in the 1920s, when the Manchester Corporation formed its Underground Railway Special Committee to investigate possible underground routes across the city. In 1926 the committee proposed a line linking the southern suburb of Stretford with Prestwich in the north. A much more ambitious scheme, estimated to cost £20 million, was put forward in 1928 involving 35 miles (56 km) of track running in two circular tunnels, an inner and an outer circle, connecting existing radial railway lines running into the city.[9][10]

Tram Tunnels (1903-1928)[edit]

Plans were drawn up to run trams underground, such as this line on London Road

By the turn of the 20th Century, Manchester had one of the most developed tram networks in Britain, but it was not without problems. The burgeoning commercial centre of Manchester suffered from ever-increasing traffic density, and the city's street-level trams, especially the inter-station tram services, operated amid heavy congestion caused by horse carts, other trams and the newly emerging motor vehicles.[11]

Some of the rapid transit schemes devised at this time proposed incorporating the trams into a more advanced system of underground tramways, in order to connect Manchester's rail termini with a rapid route free from the city traffic. In the early years of the century tram tunnels were being constructed in other urban transit systems such as in San Francisco and Berlin, and in London a short tram tunnel opened in 1905, the Kingsway tramway subway. Plans were drawn up to construct tram tunnels under the streets of Manchester in 1903 and again 1914.[12]

As the city's tram network continued to grow, the idea of underground trams was revived once again around 1928 when Henry Mattinson, the general manager of Manchester Corporation Tramways, proposed a scheme to construct a partially underground electric tramway. Surface-level suburban tram lines would run into the city centre, where they would cross the city via sub-surface lines. Two tunnelled routes were planned to run between Old Trafford and Collyhurst, and between sidings in Ordsall and Ardwick. A central interchange station was to be built in the vicinity of Albert Square. It was proposed that the underground lines and stations should be built by the Manchester Corporation and then leased out to tram operating companies. The scheme did not progress, mainly due to lack of funds. In 1928 Mattinson died unexpectedly; without its chief advocate to drive it forward, the underground tram scheme also met its end.[9]

MARTIC (1965)[edit]

In the 1960s, central government began to recognise the problems caused by traffic congestion in British towns and cities. While the 1963 Buchanan Report focused mainly on traffic management, the public discussion increasingly turned towards public transport improvement schemes. The Department of the Environment sponsored a number of design studies of new systems of urban public transport.[13]

In 1965, SELNEC initiated its Transportation Study for the city region. The Light Railway Transport League sought to influence SELNEC to include light rail in the scope of the study, and published its own rival proposal for a cross-city light rail system, MARTIC Duorail. MARTIC was an acronym for Manchester Area Rapid Transit Investigation Committee, and the Duorail name was selected to distinguish it from some of the more outlandish monorail proposals being considered at the time.

The proposal envisaged a north-south line running from Bury Bolton Street via Prestwich into Manchester, then along Princess Road to Wythenshawe and Ringway Airport. In the city centre, the Duorail lines would run underground along a circular route under Deansgate, Market Street and Whitworth Street serving Piccadilly, Central and Victoria Stations. Commentators have noted the similarities between the mid-1960s MARTIC proposals and the Metrolink system that was eventually built, both in terms of technology and choice of route.[14]

Monorail (1966)[edit]

Example of a SAFEGE monorail system, proposed in 1966

In 1966 a proposal was explored to construct an above-ground suspended monorail across central Manchester. The £21m plan involved the construction of a 16-mile (26 km) line from Ringway Airport, running north through Wythenshawe, Didsbury and Moss side to Central Station, crossing the city centre via an underground tunnel via Ancoats to Victoria, and then onwards through Collyhurst and Alkrington to Middleton.[12] Supported by the Ministry of Transport, Manchester Corporation analysed the possibility of investing in the SAFEGE monorail system which had been developed in France, and the possibility of running monorail trains suspended from tracks along the centre of existing roads, above vehicular traffic.[15]

Manchester Rapid Transit Study[edit]

The Manchester Rapid Transit Study, published in 1967 by the City of Manchester and the Ministry of Transport along with British Rail, evaluated several systems in detail, including: SAFEGE, Alweg, Aérotrain and Westinghouse Transit Expressway (Skybus) monorail systems; a "Passenveyor" people mover system; a gondola lift system; guided busways; and more traditional track-based metro systems.[13][16] The monorail proposals were all eventually abandoned.[9]

SELNEC Transportation Study[edit]

Up until 1974, the Manchester conurbation straddled the county boundaries of Lancashire and Cheshire, and public transport administration was split among the county councils and a number of county boroughs, such as Manchester, Salford, Stockport or Bolton. In 1969, a new joint passenger transport authority was set up to manage transport across the Manchester conurbation. It was named SELNEC PTE, an acronym for South East Lancashire North East Cheshire.

SELNEC began to undertake studies into major transport solutions for the Manchester city region, and in 1972 published it report, SELNEC Transportation Study: A Broad Transportation Plan for 1984, examined a range of possible rapid transit schemes.[17]

The report's recommendations shaped the design of SELNEC's showpiece transportation scheme, the proposed Picc-Vic Tunnel.

Picc-Vic Tunnel (1971)[edit]

Map of the porposed Picc-Vic underground railway (1971)

In 1971, SELNEC put forward draft proposals for a Picc-Vic tunnel,[11] "a proposed rail route beneath the city centre" forming "the centrepiece of a new electrified railway network for the region".[18] Proponents of the scheme envisaged constructing a 2.75-mile (4.43 km) tunnel under the city centre, linking Piccadilly and Victoria mainline stations. The underground line would have enabled local trains from Alderley Edge and Hazel Grove to cross the city and run on to terminate at Bury or Bolton. Three new intermediate stations were proposed, at Princess Street, Albert Square/St Peter's Square and Market Street. Following local government reorganisation, the subterranean railway project came under the aegis of the newly formed Greater Manchester County Council. Despite investigatory tunnelling under the Manchester Arndale shopping centre,[18][19] when the GMC presented the project to the British Government in 1974,[14] it was unable to secure the necessary funding.[20] The Picc-Vic Line was abandoned on economic grounds when the County Council dropped the plans in 1977.[11][14]


Centreline (1974)[edit]

SELNEC, now under the administration of the GMC, was re-organised as the Greater Manchester PTE, known as Greater Manchester Transport (GMT). To address the problem of cross-city transfer, GMT introduced a flat-fare shuttle bus service in 1974 called Centreline, which ran high-frequency circular services between Piccadilly and Victoria stations.[23]

Project Light Rail[edit]

A scheme to develop a light rail system for Greater Manchester was first conceived by Greater Manchester County Council (GMC), the local authority that governed the metropolitan county from 1974 to 1986. The GMC was obliged under its structure plan and the Transport Act 1968 to provide "an integrated and efficient system of public transport".[2] Faced with increasing traffic congestion and a lack of rail links in Manchester city centre, the GMC began to examine light rail as an affordable transport solution.[24]

See also[edit]


  • Ogden, Eric; Senior, John (1992). Metrolink. Glossop, Derbyshire: Transport Publishing Company. ISBN 0-86317-155-9. 
  • Holt, David (1992). Manchester Metrolink. UK light rail systems; no. 1. Sheffield: Platform 5. ISBN 1-872524-36-2. 


  1. ^ Ogden & Senior 1992, p. 4.
  2. ^ a b Holt 1992, pp. 6–7.
  3. ^ a b Williams 2003, p. 273.
  4. ^ Ogden & Senior 1992, p. 6–7.
  5. ^ "A Short History of Public Transport in Greater Manchester". Museum of Transport Greater Manchester. Archived from the original on 10 November 2010. Retrieved 14 March 2017. 
  6. ^ Ogden & Senior 1992, p. 20.
  7. ^ Holt 1992, p. 4.
  8. ^ Schofield, Jonathan (2015). Lost & Imagined Manchester. MCR Books. pp. 138–9. ISBN 9780992759025. 
  9. ^ a b c d Ogden & Senior 1992, p. 21.
  10. ^ Glinert, Ed. The Manchester Compendium: A Street-by-Street History of England's Greatest Industrial City. Penguin Books Limited. ISBN 9780141918587. 
  11. ^ a b c Ogden & Senior 1992, p. 22.
  12. ^ a b Fitzgerald, Todd (11 August 2015). "Revealed: 100 years of failed transport plans for Manchester – monorail and underground tube included". men. Retrieved 5 March 2017. 
  13. ^ a b Starkie, D. N. M. Transportation Planning, Policy and Analysis: Urban and Regional Planning Series. Elsevier. p. 35. ISBN 9781483156439. Retrieved 7 March 2017. 
  14. ^ a b c Holt 1992, p. 5.
  15. ^ "Monorail for Manchester?". 28 January 1966. Retrieved 5 March 2017. 
  16. ^ De Leuw, Cather & Partners; Hennessey, Chadwick, O'Heocha & Partners, eds. (August 1967). Manchester Rapid Transit Study, Volume 2. 
  17. ^ "SELNEC Transportation Study: A Broad Transportation Plan for 1984". Issuu. 1972. Retrieved 19 April 2017. 
  18. ^ a b "Manchester unearths forgotten 1970s tube line". The Architects' Journal. London: 13 March 2012. 
  19. ^ Coyle, Simon (7 April 2018). "Underground Manchester: Tunnels, a tube station and hidden shops". Manchester Evening News. Archived from the original on 7 April 2018. Retrieved 7 April 2018. 
  20. ^ Donald, Cross & Bristow 1983, p. 45.
  21. ^ Brook, Richard; Dodge, Martin (2012). Infra_MANC - Post-war infrastructures of Manchester (PDF). RIBA/CUBE Gallery. p. 134. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 January 2016. Retrieved 27 January 2016.  (exhibition catalogue)
  22. ^ Wainwright, Martin (14 March 2012). "Manchester's tube train that never was". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 4 January 2017. 
  23. ^ "Greater Manchester Transport Timeline - Museum of Transport, Greater Manchester". Museum of Transport Greater Manchester. Retrieved 5 March 2017. 
  24. ^ Green 2016, p. 222.

Category:Abandoned rail transport projects in the United Kingdom