Wednesday 23 September 2020

The Long Reach - The Two Cities

There is a video game, a film and several books with the title "The Long Reach". You may hear the phrase used when describing the skills of a boxer whose arms are suitably long to "reach" his opponent's body easily. The phrase can also be used in the sense of "influence"; "The new Virus restrictions will have a long reach throughout our society."

Martin Arthur's book ...

... refers to the historic existence of numerous long bus routes between Manchester/Salford and surrounding towns in Lancashire, Derbyshire and Cheshire. But we need to revise our understanding of the shape of Manchester before proceeding. Take a good look at this map:-
No 1 is the City of Manchester, a tall and thin urban area with its centre near the top; and on its left is No 9, the City of Salford, much the same size but often ignored by outsiders. Added to Manchester and Salford were bits of South East Lancashire and North East Cheshire (hence SELNEC for the original orange buses).

The eastern boundary of Salford is perilously close to the city centre of Manchester as designated by the bold black line on the map below.
Indeed, you could almost throw the Book Of Common Prayer from one Cathedral to the other! Observant readers may be able to pick them out on this Google Earth view. (click on the pic to enlarge).
Manchester's house for its ecclesiastical chair (its "cathedra") is bottom right ...
... and the "competition", not far over the boundary, can be glimpsed upper left.
And, to keep you on your geographical toes, Manchester Docks ...
... are located entirely within the boundaries of Salford.

And there's more! There were once two contiguous stations named Manchester Exchange and Manchester Victoria ...
... which look separate in the map above, but there was one platform (with two different numbers) which was continuous through both stations. It was the longest platform in Great Britain. Well now, Manchester Exchange station was in Salford!

Manchester Exchange has been completely obliterated whilst Victoria has gained a sports stadium and is served solely by suburban trains and trams.

And there's more! Salford City buses used two main rermini in the central area. One was adjacent to the approach road leading up to (Salford) Exchange Station.
It was, obviously, called "Victoria" and shown as such on the bus blinds.
Just beyond the bus station, you can see a bus peeping out from a tunnel under Exchange. In there, in the stygian gloom was Greengate, a Salford bus station branch office.
There were still bus stops in the blackness as recently as a Google Streetview visit ...
... but the whole area is now prettied up, the tunnel is closed to traffic ... 
... and the old Victoria bus station site is completely and "artistically" improved.
All the above rambling is really just to show that "The Long Reach" is about joint bus services involving the two "Cities"; the rich green buses of Salford ...
... which was admirably reproduced on a First Bus heritage livery ...
... and, some would say, the rather boring plain red of Manchester.
Taking each of the "spokes" of Greater Manchester in turn, Martin Arthur reviews the sometimes complex joint services which were often long and long standing - at least until privatisation and competition began to take its toll.

But Martin asks one challenging question in his introduction.

If this plethora of joint and cross boundary services worked well and served the public well, then why did Manchester need a PTE?

Good question!

Most of the above has been gleaned from this excellent volume, but one more post will explain how the book is arranged and how best to draw the greatest benefit from owning and reading it.


The End Of Railways As We Know Them?
 Monday's announcement, that the Government would be "supporting" the railways until 2022 (at least) presaged the end of Railway Franchising. The Government explained it like this (with expurgation by fbb!)

Ministers today ended rail franchising after 24 years as the first step in bringing Britain’s fragmented network back together.

The new system will create a simpler, more effective structure and will take shape over the coming months. The first stage, today, is moving operators onto transitional contracts to prepare the ground for the new railway.

From this morning, franchising is replaced with more demanding Emergency Recovery Measures Agreements (ERMAs). These address the continuing impact of the pandemic on the railway and delivers on a government commitment to replace the current franchising system.

These management agreements have tougher performance targets and lower management fees. Management fees will now be a maximum of 1.5% of the cost base of the franchise before the pandemic began. The ERMAs are a transitional stage to the new system, the biggest change to the railways in a quarter of a century.

In simple terms, from now until when, the Government will pay companies a fee of 1.5% (of what, is not quite clear, but the railway managements seem to know!).

Today’s announcement is the prelude to a white paper which will respond to The Williams Report recommendations.

This report has never been published so we don't actually know what was in it. Those "in the know" think that it condemned privatisation by franchise as being a disaster and suggested the scheme now being "outlined".

The white paper will be published when the course of the pandemic becomes clearer.

And when we have worked out what we are actually going to do instead of franchising.

It is beginning to look like a Nationalised Railway with bits of it rented out to operators who will be paid a bag of pennies while HMG collects all the fares and stands the losses or pockets the profits.

Time will tell if this fbb interpretation is correct!


 Next Long Reach blog : Thurasday 24th September 

1 comment:

  1. I think Transpennine Express might be disappointed to find their services from Victoria to destinations such as Scarborough, York, Middlesborough, Newcastle and Edinburgh described as "suburban".