MANCHESTER PICCADILLY was once known as Manchester London Road but
was renamed in 1960 during its rebuild for the initial phase of west coast electrification. It now takes the
name of the square and bus station it adjoins, so it's easy to find on foot, or if you've taken the motorists' advanced navigation
course for the Manchester street system. The shop-lined approach (broad pavement gently upward-sloping and very
smooth) is access-controlled, but taxis can probably get to the top of it. The ticket office is in the entranceway,
but we omitted to note which side, which is why it's not shown. The whole station has been recently modernised
and is thus fresh and pleasing to the eye, with large digital clocks and other electronic information displays,
and the concourse offers seats and a full range of news, snacks and other shopping services.|
All but the two through platforms (13/14) have level approaches from the concourse, and there are travelators (past two more shops) to the 13/14 access bridge. The bridge has its own waiting area at the top
of the travelator, offering news and snacks and there are stairs and a lift from there to the island platform. The same access bridge links to the other platforms, but most have only steps down, so if you're a wheelchair
user and arrived on platforms 13/14, you'd need to go via the concourse to get to most other platforms. There is a
parking area at the rear side of the station, but this was being rebuilt at the time of our visit in mid-2005.
As London Road, more than a century ago, this was a joint station for the old London & North Western Railway line
down to Crewe, and also for the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway route. When trains departed at
the same time, it was not uncommon for drivers of the rival companies to race each other until the tracks
diverged, often raising partisan support from the passengers in the process. The station still serves both lines,
but it's not as exciting now! Wheels: CM
Piccadilly also serves the Manchester to Stockport & Crewe line
The A34 (Kingsway) gives the impression of being the artery for ribbon development of housing, and it closely parallels the line from Mauldeth Road south. Sadly, Mauldeth Road station has weathered the years least well of its neighbours, with the former buildings stripped away. But it does have ramps for easy access - even into the small shelter on the Crewe platform. The original station road is now shared with a DIY store but some parking has been marked out near the shelter and a painted zebra crossing (no beacons) links this with the ramp and steps to the Crewe platform. The part-time ticket office is now in a portable building down on Mauldeth Road itself, beside the ramp to the Manchester platform and its slightly more generous bus shelter. Wheels: CM. |
BURNAGE Because the electrification scheme along this line in
the early 1960s, several of the stations look like they came out of the same box (in just the way that many
of their predecessors did), and the Burnage buildings are typical. Since three stations in a row also sit on
embankments, they all have ramp access, but Burnage is different in that it also has staircases and
footpaths that link to a parallel street. These staircases weave underneath the ramp to reach platform
level. The west-side footpath is public and has street lighting but it's narrow and very bushy, and we
doubt that women alone make much use of it at night. The Manchester platform has a ticket office and there
are waiting rooms on both sides, all keeping commuter hours - i.e. early morning until late lunch. After
that, the canopy will keep the rain off, but won't help much with the wind. There is no direct cross-platform
link, and no railway parking, but you may find street parking.
The station is signed and has the usual double arrow visible as you approach the viaduct. Wheels:
When we visited East Didsbury (well signed), the
road and the station approaches themselves were caught up in road repair or reconstruction, so we probably didn't
get a typical experience of it, and the position of the ramp on the Manchester side is assumed, not confirmed.
The road beneath the viaduct is also busier and has a more complex link with the A34 than its neighbours
up and down the line. The ticket office and waiting room is on the Manchester side and they both keep
commuter hours as per Burnage above. After that, there is still canopy shelter on both sides. There is free
parking for 2 disabled users and about a dozen other cars on the Crewe side, though more were squeezing
down the approach as well. The busyness of the area suggests that street parking may be under pressure here.
The line at Gatley still parallels the A34 (Kingsway),
like the stations north of it, but not quite so closely. There is a free car park for 25-30 cars off Gatley
Road, just east of the railway overbridge. If you want the Manchester side from the car park, there is an
underpass serving a local footpath, but there is no real benefit from it as both platforms are reached by
ramps from each side of the overbridge. Traditional wooden buildings, each with a waiting room, grace both
platforms and the Manchester side has a ticket office. This is open from early morning until late lunchtime,
and the waiting rooms keep the same hours. After that there is canopy shelter outside, and a few seats are
on the platforms. Wheels: CM.|
Finney Lane bridges over the north end of Heald
Green station, with the local shopping street stopping just a few yards to the east of the station, and
the west-bound rush hour traffic queue starting at about the same point in a desperate endeavour to reach
or cross the B5166 Styal Road (about 200 yards away). The access road to the station (Station Approach) is
clearly signed if you can get to it, and drops down to the ticket office and waiting room (both available
from early morning until mid-evening). There are about 12 parking places plus 2 disabled slots, but casual
parking also goes up the approach road. This area may once have been the station's goods yard, for it is
sprinkled with minor businesses - some forlorn and some gone - and the road meanders past dead ground
marking their passing. As a consequence, there is a considerable amount of informal parking, and the
booking office hours suggest it gets well used. On the platform the Manchester side has a canopy attached
to the ticket office, but on the other side, there is no shelter at all. And to make it harder even for
the agile, the passenger overbridge has been closed off, and the only route to the other side is over the
road bridge and down the ramp on the other side.
MANCHESTER AIRPORT |
Not yet visited.
Styal station (on Station Road) is signed east off the B5166 road at the turning
towards Handforth, with the access road (also signed for 'Rhoburt') immediately across the overbridge. Don't
overrun the access road - it's half a mile to the next turning point. At the bottom of the slope is free parking
for about a dozen cars and the platform offers an open-fronted brick shelter. The pavement back to the overbridge
gives no upward help to wheelchairs but the other side of the road has a sturdy-looking fence if people haven't
parked along it. The ramp down to the other platform leads to a building that may have been a ticket office but
is now bricked up and just shelters a small handful of seats outside. Wheels:
WILMSLOW (photo below) is a traditional and comfortable-feeling station
built originally with an underpass and ramp access to all platforms except platform 1. This has been given its
own external route to a gate which may require staff assistance to open it, but otherwise should be straightforward.
The old buildings still serve most platforms, with waiting rooms available, though we didn't notice any other
facilities such as refreshments, which the station did seem busy enough to support. Platform 4 has a modern
waiting room, and all platforms have seats out in the open or under canopy. The modern ticket office is open from
early morning to late evening. Several bus services call into the station forecourt.
The forecourt has plenty of short-term parking, but note that some parking may be commercially owned and not part of
the railway area. Wheels: CM.
We came down the approach road to this station in evening's deep shadow, and with its old-fashioned lamps the first impression
was rather Dickensian. This didn't bear up under closer scrutiny, but we did wonder for a moment. We also
missed the point that the car park was over the bridge from the main station building, off Heyes Lane, and
so had to shuffle to get round the acute-angled entrance. There are only dropping-off spaces on this side of
the station, but this is where the part-time booking office is. The waiting room keeps the
same hours, but there is canopy cover outside on both platforms. A concrete overbridge will suit the agile and
smaller prams, but the road bridge will be necessary for wheelchairs crossing the line. There is level access
to the platforms. Wheels: CM.|
|Alderley Edge's main station building,
looking north towards Manchester.
CHELFORD Chelford station is almost a twin of Goostrey (below) in its arrangement, with its platforms connected by a difficult road bridge. Chelford's is especially difficult, for while both sides of the station are technically accessible, the footpath over the bridge has been railed to give some protection to pedestrians, but been so narrowed by the protection that we are uncertain that a wheelchair would get along it, and large prams might struggle, too. Otherwise the station is like many of its kind: unstaffed, service information by the steps, limited shelter on both sides, free parking for rail users (with disabled spaces close to the platform), but architecturally underwhelming. It's also short on road signs. Wheels: CM. [see Goostrey's rating explanation]
larger than it looks from this angle, and its blank wall could do definitely with some 1920s/30s seaside posters! The exit to the car park is just beyond it. Another large blank building is at the far end of the first platform but it does not seem to be for passenger use. Right: the narrow path over the bridge.
|The main feature on the left platform is an open-fronted but solid brick shelter. Just past it, the white patch is the gate to the exit ramp. The modern building on the other platform encloses a seating area, but the building is much |
GOOSTREY Goostrey Lane is just off the A535 (take the Twemlow Green
turn, then go right) and this parallels the main line before swinging left to cross over it and head for the village.
The Crewe side of the station is just before the bridge, reached by a pedestrian ramp down to the platform
and its small shelter with a seat or two. Across the bridge and down the slope, a hairpin turn on the right
leads to a triangular parking area with room for 30-50 cars, depending on how the space gets used. What was once the
station building is now locked up with little sign it will ever reopen. At its corner, there is a flight
of steps to the road above, and also a small ramp and steps to the Manchester platform. There are no other
facilities. The wheels rating reflects having to park and then get over the line, and the awkwardness of being
dropped off there. Wheels:
HOLMES CHAPEL station lies to the south east of the town centre on
the A454 (Station Road), and just a short distance from M6 junction 18. The two sides of the station are linked by
a passenger overbridge which actually takes over the normal bridge pavement but is walled for the safety of
pedestrians. There is a ramp down to the Manchester
side, but on the Crewe side a wheelchair must use the access road then up the bridge approach. Otherwise there
is no real access problem. The ticket office is on the Crewe side and part-time. There are two disabled spaces
alongside it. Note that part of this platform is
rather narrow. The former goods yard has been converted to commercial purposes, so there is a stream of traffic
serving that, but rail-user parking has been retained for about 35 cars. The route over the bridge looks
tedious for a wheelchair, hence the rating. Wheels:
SANDBACH station is on the western edge of Elworth, about a mile from
Sandbach town centre along the A533 (but easy to find). Pedestrians can descend a staircase to the parking area
and thence to the ticket office, otherwise you turn down Station Road and after 100 yards or so turn right into
the station forecourt. There is parking for maybe 35 cars, with signs firmly telling you that you'd better have
the right pass. The ticket office appears to be part-time, and what looks like a bus stop nearby has no
services listed. The station is not wheelchair friendly. The station building appears to have lost an annex and
the foundation left behind is an inch or two above general platform level, leaving a nasty little tripping hazard.
And the only way to two of the three platforms is by a stepped overbridge. There are shelters on both
platforms plus seats out in the open, and apart from its access shortcomings it's actually a fairly reasonable
but we did learn that locals are unhappy with it and have set up a "Friends of Sandbach Station" group to seek
We were planning to visit Crewe when the opportunity arose, but instead we found ourselves there one evening, literally through an accident. The entrance is on the middle of a bridge and has a very small taxi and set-down area, so there will be little time to linger. The area is level access, with the ticket office to your right as you enter. For such an important station, it may seem surprising that the booking office is closed in the later evening but for many passengers it will be a journey interchange point. But there are machines near the entrance to sell you tickets to a large variety of destinations if you brought your credit/debit card.
|CREWE is one of the major interchange points on the railway system. And for a century it was the manufacturing heart of the largest railway company in the country. The yellow route diagram below shows its importance to the system.
From the left of the entrance, you reach the main platform overbridge, which is simpler than you expect: most of the platforms are additional limbs of the two main ones, 5 and 6, with platform 12 being the only separate one. This means that there are only three ways down to platform level (stairs and lifts are available), with platform 2 being the farthest walk. The platforms are also linked by a second passenger bridge (steps only) near the southern bays. Electronic screens display train arrivals and departures with voice announcement as well.
The station dates back to 1837 (though largely rebuilt as it expanded), and its architecture still stems from its great Victorian and Edwardian days. But there is fresh paint around and a good percentage of the platforms have canopy cover. The two large buildings provide indoor shelter in snack bars (closing at or shortly before 9.00 p.m. on weekdays), and there are also vending machines available for the unearthly hours. There is no parking immediately by the station, but if you go down off the plan below and turn right (i.e. northwards), the streets there lead to short and long-term parking including a 20 minute free parking area for the station (which has a £10 charge (in 2009) for late return). Wheels: all routes.