Thursday 6 January 2011

Manchester Memories

Piccadilly to Victoria

Now a trouble-free trundle on a tram, the crossing from one Manchester station to the other was by foot (if you knew the way) or by taxi (if you had the money).   Back in the mists of time, when fbb was a student, he was expert in neither directions nor finance so always made a mess of it and, consequently, always allowed an extra hour.

Then the cross city construction craze set in.   Proposals for a metro in Newcastle, the Argyle Line in Glasgow, Thameslink in London and tunnels in Liverpool came thick and fast.   Not to be outdone, Manchester came up with the Pic-Vic line.

This crazy illustration from SELNEC (that's South East Lancashire and North East Cheshire) PTE in 1971 shows a Victoria Line (that's London Victoria) tube train running across Manchester. But the actual plan was to link "proper" train services through a circuitous tunnel with additional stations on the way.
This would then carry "heavy rail" trains from south to north as well as providing a much-needed link between Piccadilly and Victoria.   The dotted (as opposed to dashed) lines on the map above were entitled "passenger conveyor" with no real indication was to what they might be.    But, at least, as SELNEC transmogrified into Greater Manchester Transport, artists had a better idea of what the trains would look like and bosses had chosen a more sensible name!

Of course, it didn't happen.   Too expensive and insufficient cost to benefit ratio - a term used to disguise a sort of economic guesswork.   Instead we got "Centreline" ...

... rather tinny Seddon minibuses at a relatively high fare (12p, two shillings a sixpence in proper money). But it was certainly better than walking.   Now, of course, we have the tram - if you can understand the ticket machines - running frequently from the bowels of Piccadilly to  a former platform at Victoria.

Additionally there are three "Metro Shuttles"; FREE bus routes linking various parts of the city centre and recently upgraded with super-duper greener (and bigger) vehicles.   Mancunians simply don't know they are born, compared with the "good old days".

But in a touch of irony, the problem of the "Manchester Hub" raises its ugly and expensive head yet again. "Manchester Hub" is a neat phrase which roughly refers to the transport facilities in central Manchester.   Piccadilly is full, Victoria needs a rebuild, there are too many people travelling on the trains - so, one solution might be to ...

Guess what?

... build a "heavy rail" tunnel linking the two stations.  Now why had no-one thought of that before?

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