The Anonymous Widower

An Ideal Place For A New Station

This map shows the development site at Kirkstall Forge in Leeds.

Kirkstall Forge

Kirkstall Forge

The site is being developed between the A65 and the River Aire and the Leeds to Bradford rail line in a £400million scheme. This is from the developer’s web site.

Kirkstall Forge will be transformed into a thriving mixed-use community in a wooded riverside setting. Ultimately it will deliver new homes, a high quality office park, shops, restaurants, a gym, crèche and other facilities. The scheme will create in the region of 2,400 new jobs, boosting the local economy by more than £5 million per year.

The DfT will provide a maximum of £10.3m towards the £16.9m needed to deliver railway stations on this site and at Apperley Bridge. The remaining 40% of the cost is made up of a local funding package comprising a private sector contribution of over £5m, supplemented by funding from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Surely, this is the type of development that is good for everyone.

It will be interesting to know the extra return that developers get, by having a rail station in their plans. In London, a station is being provided at Barking Riverside for developments there, but stations in new developments seem to be fairly rare.

February 25, 2015 Posted by | Travel, World | , , | Leave a comment

Birmingham Gets A Big Snow Job

It is said by many in the regions of the UK, that London gets and eats all the pies.

At present there are four main rail projects on the go in London; Thameslink, Crossrail, the Northern Line Extension and the London Overground.

Thameslink is a government funded project, Crossrail and the NLE are paid for wholly or in part by property developers and business.

The smaller Overgroundisation of London surface railways is more a methodology that is starting to be copied and expanded in places like Merseyside, the Cardiff Valleys and the West Midlands. Although you could argue that others railways in the UK have had the same idea of clean and sometimes new trains, smart stations and good staffing levels, working for some time. Some of the stations on the Overground, have been or will be expanded, in conjunction with property development.

But other projects where co-operation between Network Rail, rail companies.local government and property developers are starting to be proposed and implemented, Often these projects are led by a major redevelopment of a station.

1. Leeds Station

Leeds station was rebuilt and extended a few years ago, but little use was made of the space above the station.

Leeds Station And City Centre

Leeds Station And City Centre

This Google Earth map shows the central location of the station and also its closeness to the main Trinity Shopping Centre at the top right of the map. Walking routes between the two are not good and the station should have been improved with development on the northern side to link it to the city centre. According to Wikipedia. future plans are in place to add much needed extra platforms and develop the south side of the station.

I believe, that you should walk out of a station into an open space, from where you can get your bearings of the city. This has been done well at London Kings Cross, Liverpool Lime Street, Huddersfield and Cardiff Central and some station rebuilding and expanding, is embracing such a concept.

I hope that Leeds develop the concept to a new level, when they create a new southern entrance. Perhaps on a personal level, they could create an easy way to get a bus to Elland Road.

2. Reading Station

Reading station has also been rebuilt and is surrounded by development, as this Google Earth map shows.

Around Reading Station

Around Reading Station

In the future it will be getting Crossrail,the new western link to Heathrow and probably more offices around the station. Network Rail, who now manage the station, have already created entrances on both sides of the station and I hope that development in the next few years, will make what is a spectacular station, a true gateway to the City.

3. Birmingham New Street

Birmingham New Street station is approaching the end of its  rebuilding, which is now Gateway Plus. It includes a lot of retail including a new John Lewis. The station will also be connected to the Midland Metro. This Google Earth map shows the station and it’s surroundings.

Birmingham New Street

Birmingham New Street

It shows the problem that the station suffers, when compared to many. It is in a deep dark hole surrounded by busy roads, with the buses some way away. I don’t think you would design a station like that these days, as they did in the 1960s.

The station has a problem, as does Leeds, that there is not enough lines and platforms, but whereas at Leeds space is available, it would appear that at Birmingham New Street, it will be difficult to find.

The design of the station means that natural light on the platforms is difficult to provide. Hopefully, though by providing that light on the concourse and lots of lifts and escalators to get to the trains, the architects may have improved things. At present, it’s a bit like a bad Underground station experience arriving and departing at the station. One of the reasons, I generally travel between London and Birmingham by Chiltern Railways, is that Moor Street is a light and airy station, that has been tastefully updated for the modern age.

One of the biggest problems at New Street, is getting onward connections around the City Centre. On my visits to Birmingham, I often walk to Brindley Place to have a drink or lunch with friends. It’s not a difficult walk, but in a few years time, I’ll be able to do this sort of journey on the Midland Metro from the stop in Stephenson Street. When HS2 opens, this tram will be used as the connection between all four Birmingham city centre stations.

4. Manchester Victoria Station

The updating of Manchester Victoria station is  the centrepiece of two big projects in Manchester; the Northern Hub and the extensions to the Manchester Metrolink like the Second City Crossing. This Google Earth map shows The station and the surrounding area.

Manchester Victoria

Manchester Victoria

This image is quite old and doesn’t show the new roof, but it does show the roof of Manchester Arena next door, how the tram lines call at the station, the nearby green space and the river. All the station needs now is completing, the Metrolink extensions and new electric train services to Liverpool, Preston, Blackpool, Bolton, Leeds, Huddersfield, Sheffield, Newcastle and Hull.

I would also personally, like to see an hourly service to the South and Euston, so that I can avoid, the mostly dreadful Piccadilly. This will be possible once the Ordsall Chord is opened, although some might say that it is a real pity, the Picc-Vic tunnel was never built. Perhaps Virgin will get permission to run a service to Huddersfield via both main Manchester stations.

5. Newcastle Station

Newcastle station is a station that I don’t remember as anything special from my last visit some yeas ago, although it is a Grade I Listed Building. But since then, several millions have been spent according to Wikipedia, mainly on internal and retail facilities and on opening up the area round the station. So perhaps I should pay the city a visit. This Google Earth image shows the unique position of the station.

Newcastle Station

Newcastle Station

It is high above the Tyne on the edge of the city centre and uniquely the station is on a curve. It must be a very difficult to add extra tracks and platforms, which seem to be needed, as both through and local services are going to increase significantly.

I have only given five major examples, but they show how stations are becoming the focus of development.

One of my manual searches on the Internet picked up this article on Modern Railways entitled Snow Hill ‘transformation’ plan. This is the first paragraph.

Birmingham City Council has released its Snow Hill Masterplan, which outlines plans to grow the business district surrounding the station and includes proposals for the ‘transformation’ of the station into a transport hub.

Snow Hill is Birmingham’s station that is ignored by visitors from around the country, although it is important for commuters and others brought into the city on the Snow Hill Lines.

The Snow Hill Masterplan is here on the Birmingham Post website. Some of those who have commented don’t like it and they could be right. But the principles behind the plan of creating high quality offices, retail and apartments over a well-connected station is one that has been proven to work at Canary Wharf. After all it does actually make double use of the same piece of land. This is a Google Earth image of the Birmingham Snow station and its location.

Birmingham Snow Hill

Birmingham Snow Hill

You don’t see much of the actual station, as it is covered by a multi-story car park. As someone who can’t drive and manages well without a car, I can’t see why cities don’t do what London, Cambridge and Oxford have done and discourage people from driving in by providing top quality public transport.

The Snow Hill Masterplan would need an updated Midland Metro and also extra trains and routes through Snow Hill station.

I think that if I could get trains direct from Marylebone to Snow Hill, then that would be my preferred way of going. Snow Hill is in a much friendlier and welcoming part of the City than New Street.

I think on balance it is a good plan.

February 8, 2015 Posted by | Travel, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Liverpool Gets Another Event

This morning Liverpool is hosting the start of the Tour of Britain.

It seems to me, that since being European Capital of Culture in 2008, Liverpool has received more of the large events, than it should have on the law of averages.

Perhaps, it’s just that the City is more efficient in attracting them!

On the other hand the Sea Odyssey of 2012, brought 800,000 people into the centre and had an economic impact of £32million.

So they know that events work.

It’ll be interesting to see the figures for the Tour de Yorkshire in Leeds and Sheffield.

September 7, 2014 Posted by | Sport, World | , , , | Leave a comment

Vive Le Tour!

That is the headline on the wrap around The Times today.

Vive Le Tour!

Vive Le Tour!

I do think that Yorkshire has shown how to do a Grand Depart. I suspect that Utrecht next year, will follow Yorkshire’s lead.

In some ways it’s all a bit sad, as there aren’t many events like the Tour de France, that can be used to build a great event around.

Yorkshire is apparently starting the Tour de Yorkshire, London has the Marathon, Liverpool the Grand National and Newcastle the Great North Run, so perhaps we ought to get our thinking caps on, to create some more iconic events.

July 7, 2014 Posted by | Sport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Leeds To Get Two New Stations

Modern Railways is reporting, that two new stations; Apperley Bridge and Kirkstall Forge are to be built in the Leeds area.

Stations seem to be like buses. You wait for a new one for years and then they arrive in bunches.

June 6, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Something New And Very Green In The Laundry

I’ve read about a company called Xeros in The Times today. Their washing machines use 80% less water, 50% less energy and 50% less detergent.

The technology has been spun (?) out of Leeds University and uses special beads to clean the washing. They’re also talking about a washing machine with no programmes ( i.e. a man button!)

They’re not available for domestic use! Yet!

But if all machines in the UK were this efficient, then the water saved would fill twenty million swimming pools!

February 22, 2014 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Are We Seeing A New Type Of Shopping Centre?

I have been impressed by One New Change by St.Paul’s in London.

Today, as I needed to eat on the way back from Burnley, I visited Trinity Leeds, which is a shopping centre close to Leeds station to have a late lunch in Carluccio’s.

Although, Trinity Leeds is four times as big as One New Change, it has a similar upmarket feel. When you stand both of them alongside such centres as Meadowhall, Lakeside and quite a few others, there is no comparison, although they are smaller.

They have both been developed by the same company; Land Securities. it would seem that some of the features and tenants have been chosen to improves the shopping experience. Both centres have an extensive selection of restaurants and have been designed to blend in, rather than dominate their neighbours. Leeds has even got an Art House cinema from Everyman Cinemas.  Usually shopping centres, just have a multiplex showing exclusively Transatlantic trash.

From my point of view, the centre is ideally placed, as it puts a second Carluccio’s close to my preferred interchange station in the North of England;  Leeds. I won’t use Leeds every time there is not a direct service from London, but for Burnley, Blackburn and possibly a few others, it is the best route, especially if I can get lunch.

May 4, 2013 Posted by | Travel, World | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Bridge In Leeds Station

A few weeks ago, I visited Reading station and took pictures of the new overbridge there.

Today at Leeds I got a close look at the similar bridge over the tracks at Leeds station.

It is not so impressive as the bridge at Reading, but it is a few years older and probably built to a tighter budget.  I think we’ll be seeing a lot more stations being built or rebuilt on similar lines.

Leeds shows one of the advantages of this design, in that on the bridge at the station, is a large coffee outlet, an information kiosk and plenty of seating. This seems to put them all where they are needed on the walking route for passengers changing trains. As the sides of the bridge are to a certain extent closed in with glass, it is much better place to wait for your train, than on the draughty platforms below.

If there is a problem, it is that there is possibly not enough escalators, although each platform does have a lift.

May 4, 2013 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Can Ipswich Fans Go By Train To The Last Match?

If you live in Ipswich, support Town and want to go by train to the last match of the season at Burnley,you’ve got a five hour journey starting at six in the morning.

I’m luckier in that I can catch the 08:03 train to Leeds and change for Burnley there, getting there in just under four hours.

Yet again, East Anglia shows how badly it is connected to the rail network.

I also get back to London about 19:30, whereas those going to Ipswich arrive two hours later.

So to answer my question, the answer is yes! But those of us, who live in London can do it a lot easier, than those that live in Ipswich.

April 21, 2013 Posted by | Sport, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Train Ticketing For Football

In the last few months, I’ve been to Barnsley, Birmingham, Bolton, Brighton, Hull, Leeds, Leicester and Wolverhampton to see Ipswich Town play.  Although in some cases like Hull and Leicester the football wasn’t the best, I’ve not had much of a problem with the trains.  Except of course in getting to Ipswich, where they have chosen match day Saturdays to rebuild the line.

Usually, I travel First Class either one or both ways. On the Wolverhampton trip, where I could be sure of my times, I used Advance tickets that cost just £31 with a Senior Railcard. Some of the supporters, I met at the game, were rather surprised at the price.

But sometimes, I’ll get Off Peak Second Class and pay the upgrade, if it is available, like it is on Virgin. GreaterAnglia and others.

Next Saturday, I’m going to see Ipswich in the FA Cup at Aston Villa. For that game, I’ll book the outrun on a specific train using an Advance First Class ticket on Virgin, as they seem cheaper than Chiltern and stop in New Street, where I can get the train to Witton for Villa Park. but coming back, I’ll get an ordinary Off Peak Standard Class ticket, as that will mean I can get any train.  If I want to upgrade to First Class it will cost me £10 on the train.

I’ve just booked the two tickets and they cost me a total of £31.65.

December 30, 2012 Posted by | Sport, Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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