One of you lot will know about this

The mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has said Manchester should have an underground railway, as the cost of the delayed Crossrail project in London swelled to £17.6bn.

Burnham proposed a “Crossrail for Manchester-type scenario” where new railway lines would be built under central Manchester to help people get across the increasingly gridlocked city.

There is presumably some metric by which we can decide whether to tunnel or not. Whether to have a Tube or not.

What are they an does Manchester pass?

28 thoughts on “One of you lot will know about this”

  1. He’s obviously getting jealous that some other public sector parasite is getting to waste £17.6bn of other peoples’ money, and wants to get in on the action.

  2. He’s got some weird plan for transport there in the next decades. The pic looks like a target with radial & circumferential lines. Perhaps he’s going to move Rochdale, Oldham, Bury etc so they fit neatly on his target. As for tunnelling, I think Manchester is probably a lot of alluvium. Good luck with tunnelling that.

  3. No, there’s no set formula. It’s always and everywhere a matter of (1) politics and (2) whether can they afford it. Newcastle has a metro, Birmingham doesn’t – go figure. In France, every village and hamlet has a shiny new tram network, despite no visible need.

  4. Bloke in North Dorset

    Looking round the Crossrail site it talks about a funding envelope of £17.6Bn, but I saw something in a DuckDuckGo search that said it might need another £2.6Bn. So call it £20Bn for ease. It also looks like that includes Opex until it goes cash positive, so it isn’t just Capex.

    Also on the Crossrail website the length appears to be 42km.

    So, to a 1st order fag packet approximation, you could start at £500m per km, but that will be driven by how many stations are needed and also fixed costs, such as cost of tunnelling machines, which decreases in per km terms the longer the tunnels.

  5. The first thing any new transportation system needs – or more accurately doesn’t need – is a unionised labour force that demands 50k + a year to simply open and close the doors. I would suggest several hundred electric autonomous driving buses with a nominal fixed fare payable by electronic card and running 24/7 with some basic software to manage intervals between buses and peak and off peak services. Use existing bus lanes and effectively create a tram system without a tramway. Even allowing for the usual padding by the public sector and the inevitable squandering of money on the ubiquitous ‘consultants’ it could easily be done for a couple of hundred million and you never know, the low fuel cost, almost zero labour cost and lack of pollution might actually benefit the general public (as opposed to the bus companies, a heavily unionised labour force and the usual suspects of associated public ‘servants’ and crony capitalists.)

  6. You could have a cheap ‘cut and shut’ one like the Circle/Metropolitan/District lines, but there’s a fair bit of disruption as you dig entire roads up (and the utilities pipes/cables below). Deep lines are unbelievably expensive.

    Perhaps some sort of levy on the fat cat organisations in Manchester? A billion on the BBC, for example? Only fair.

  7. Hills plays a big part. London is flat. Hong Kong’s MTR skirts the coast. Newcastle is a light rail system and mostly reuses former surface heavy rail lines.

    Also, it’s usually either light rail or underground rail. Manchester already has light rail, that tips the cost/benefit balance away from adding on another system. Croydon wasn’t served by the Tube, so they had an open choice between underground and light rail and went with light rail being more cost effective than trying to extend to the underground network.

  8. And I think that “a” “cross-rail”-type system would be useless. To do underground railways you need a network, not a line from one side of the city to the other.
    A quick Google shows Greater Manchester already has oodles of surface rail, any improvements should be some non-radial links. Eg, improve the Trub Chords and that would link the Rochdale end of the Metro to the Bury end of the Metro. If you can then link to Bolton that gets you to Wigan and Eccles.

  9. They need a Tesla battery.

    If you wanna be hip. All the cool kids have Tesla batteries.

    Tax payers should be for it as it will cost a lot less than Crossrail. Burnham should love it because it will be immediate.

    Oh, wait. Long construction period is a benefit, as people won’t realize what a turd you are until you are out of office.

    I hope he doesn’t read this, as he’ll want to do BOTH!

  10. As the Instapundit often writes, the metric is whether the project has sufficient opportunities for graft.

    If so, it will proceed, if not, then not.

  11. It’s not fair: Glasgow has an underground and Manchester doesn’t. Boo bloody hoo.

    The Edinburgh tram fiasco amused me: the city had old railway lines it could have used for commuter traffic, and a mainline that could had a spur built to serve the airport. Instead it opted for the vanity tramway from the airport to the city centre. There should have been jail time for that.

    Locally we have been treated to a guided busway that (I assume) is a financial calamity, but I’m open to persuasion if someone knows better.

  12. As mentioned above the type of tunnel is a big factor, ‘cut and shut’ where you dig down then just put a roof on vs underground boring.
    Boring is much more expensive and slower, but then cut and shut is incredibly disruptive.
    Vancouver used a combination when building the line to the airport, you can see where tunnel goes from round to square. There were a number of lawsuits from business owners following construction for the cut and shut claiming the disruption was excessive, took about 10 years to resolve I think.

  13. @MBE: I don’t know but it wouldn’t surprise me.

    Last I saw they were discussing extending the line, which I assume means building the originally planned leg down to Leith docks. Jail time!

  14. @MyBurningEars July 20, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    Yes. Slower, higher fare and dumps passenger much further from airport doors than bus

    @dearieme July 20, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    Extending? Yep and insane; but you know public sector motto – when in a hole, keep digging8

  15. @MBE – I can confirm the bus is quicker than the tram, having made the journey from Waverley last year.
    If you are tight, or hard up, and prepared to walk 1k from Ingliston P&R, then the tram at £1.70 is cheaper by far.

  16. Andrew M – Birmingham metro is quite nice. Been around for 20 years or so. Have used it a few times when travelling that way.

  17. Instead it opted for the vanity tramway from the airport to the city centre. There should have been jail time for that.

    Completed just in time for SNP loonies to turn Scotland into a zero carbon wasteland by shutting down air travel!

  18. London (north of the river) has lots of underground rail lines because the London clay is perfect for tunnelling. Sarf of the river (Wot! At this time of night?) the geology changes so the rail lines are mostly on the surface.

    I’m sure Excavator Man or some other luminary can put me right on this layperson’s understanding.

  19. South of the river was originally low lying marsh, not good for tunnelling. Also the first Undergound line (Metropolitan/Circle) ran around the edge of the city so the cut and cover method was not too disruptive. So apart from geology what matters is how valuable the land is above the route.

  20. Manchester should have a Crossrail / Tube solution if it wants it. The first, wholly binary, decision point is whether all those people who – if it is built – will see their houses / shops / premises increase hugely in value (vide London Crossrail) are prepared to pay for it. Buggered if I can see why I should subsidise their (largely) tax free windfall profits.

  21. formertory: If that’s true (and it probably is) then a venture capitalist (or consortium, more likely) should be willing to front the money for the system, to be repaid from a windfall-profits tax.

  22. it’s incomparable. London had the underground dug well before the snowflake era, when no-one cared if you destroyed some wildlife, archaeology or an old building. Or that much about personal safety. Brunel built the GWR at a similar rate to HS2. By hand.

  23. One reason why an underground line in the city centre will never happen is this:

    The exchange is basically a massive cold war bunker used to help maintain telecommunications with the United States in the event of a nuclear war. It’s still technically in use as BT use it for cabling.

    The reason lies not in it’s size which is awkward enough, but in the geology itself, in that the GUTE was excavated into the coal measures that are under Manchester at that depth, and so it is constantly filling up with ground water that needs to be drained via pumps. – Imagine a complex of new-build rail tunnels that are even larger than the exchange and the whole idea just seems daft for that reason alone.

    Further, all of the jerry built office blocks and residential towers that are being slung up around the Deansgate area with dodgy Asian money mean that that part of the city is completely off limits to tunneling as well, because of their pilings and foundations.

    From there, then you’ve got the listed stuff like the Corn Exchange, the Midland Hotel and the central library, then there is also the complete buried canal spur running under the Great Northern Warehouse by the exhibition centre, as well as tat like the national football museum and the Cathedral.

    Finally, you’ve got the lefties whining about the loss of anything related to the Peterloo massacre (“The People’s History Museum”), and all the BBC and media production people who all wish they could move back to London. They hate the place as it is, and would hate it even more if the public transit system worked.

  24. Apols in advance, this is going to be a long post…

    (1) costs
    Ballpark figures: a single track km in tunnel is about £100-150m. This doesn’t include signalling, power or stations. A train carriage is £1-2m.
    While London clay was a benefit to the men manually digging the London underground 150 years ago, modern tunnelling gear can handle anything, but unexpected changes in what’s being tunnelled through is the main cause of time and cost overruns. Solid rock is actually pretty cheap to tunnel through because there aren’t the subsidence issues to worry about.
    What’s expensive are underground stations, land take in expensive areas and doing stuff that hasn’t been done before — in Crossrail’s case, integrating 3 particular different types of signalling is one of those things that just hasn’t been done before and is proving slow and expensive; the other major cost/time over-run is Bond St station which is a large underground station in an expensive location; other stations have seen less extensive/expensive over-runs.

    (2) why Crossrail in London
    Paddington and Liverpool St stations were full. Paddington has 13 platforms and Liverpool St 18 (reduced from 14 and 19 respectively by the need to fit maximum-length trains in all platforms). The tracks leading to/from the stations can carry 48 trains per hour each way. Given long-distance services need about 15 minutes to turn round and shorter-distance ones 5-10 minutes, the size of the stations is a limiting factor and it’s just not feasible to expand them. On lines that don’t terminate, 30 trains per hour is feasible, so an extra two “through” platforms solves that particular problem.

    Paddington is also badly positioned; more-or-less everybody arriving there wants to continue further East, and the tube is at capacity. A high-capacity full-size railway fixes that, too. Branching off to serve Canary Wharf also relieves the overcrowded Jubilee line.

    (3) Manchester?
    There are already a number of “proper” railways that cross Manchester. Victoria and Piccadilly stations are busy, but hardly at capacity; the through lines that already exist are not being used to their full capacity at the moment. Metrolink which — like the Croydon tram — uses abandoned railway formations outside the central area is pretty good, it gets busy but not mental; its limit is the on-street section through central Manchester: putting some of that underground would allow more, longer trams and shorter journey times (sharp corners are slow) but from what I can see that isn’t what’s being proposed.

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