For a full list of routes covered, see the bottom of this
Wheels: BS. If you're on wheels, see our Easy Access
Modern stainless steel seats seize the eye, but Piccadilly's old pillars |
have also been painted to highlight their grand Victorian character.
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 Manchester Airport & Crewe line.
Back to top
LEVENSHULME Station is signed west off the A6 at a set of traffic lights
in the shopping area. The rail overbridge is obvious, but the station less so as it is hidden on the other side of
the bridge on a short dead-end road to the right. The ticket office is halfway to platform height, level with the
underpass that links the two sides, with something like 17 steps to that level and the same again to the platform.
There are no lifts or ramps. Up on the surface we're in commuter-land: long empty platforms, seats for a bare
handful, minimal shelter, and we'll bet the underpass fills up when the weather gets really nasty. There is no
railway parking, and the local streets were probably built when cars still used acetylene lamps, and hence are
Not yet visited. Wheels: Not known.
Stockport has long been a major station on the routes to Crewe and Stoke-on-Trent,
though some of its lines have been removed. Facilities are a mix of old and new. The easy-slope entrance
foyer is modern with a new ticket counter, stairs, and a lift to the modernised platform 1. The other
platforms are reached by the original underpass and stairs plus modern lifts. The major platform buildings are
the solid brick-built traditional railway type with the usual range of services you'd expect at a significant
station, but the original canopies have all been swept away in favour of rather ugly modern ones (which are
probably far less trouble to maintain).
On the middle platform, these still bifurcate to edge bays that have since been filled in,
so if they look strange now, they made sense at the time!
Parking exists on both sides of the station. At the front, roads from
Wellington Road bring you round to the station frontage, passing the main car park en route, and there is a
shopper car park further on. There is a separate parking area on the opposite side of the station, linked to
the station by the underpass. Note that there appear to be two Station Roads, one each side of the railway.
Not yet visited. Wheels: Not known.
HANDFORTH Handforth station is on Station Road (B5358), just
off the curiously-named Wilmslow Road Garage - the main north-south road through the town. Handforth
is a place that takes a pride in its history, evident in alternative station signs in mediaeval script and
local history material about the station on the noticeboard.|
The station in its current form probably doesn't go back before 1960 as its ticket office is sat on a concrete
platform over the electrified traction wires, though it is old enough to miss the legislation on disabled access, and only steps
will get you down to the platforms.
Each side has a bus shelter with seats for about 10, but with standing
space for quite a few more. There are also half a dozen seats each side, out in the open air.
Looking north towards Manchester.
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.
Please note: the notes and sketches are intended only to give a general impression, and should not be
relied upon for more than that.|
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