Posted 5th August 2008 | 10 Comments

Re-siting of Crewe station defended

“It is not generally appreciated that 42 per cent of passengers use Crewe as an interchange and never leave the station,”

NETWORK Rail has hit back at campaign group CREAM’s criticism of its plans to re-site Crewe station as part of a multi-million pound investment to increase capacity and speed on the West Coast main line.

The track and signalling company says such a move would also provide improved rail/road interchange to alleviate the town’s traffic congestion.

The Crewe, Railways, Environment and Manufacture campaign claims that Network Rail’s plan to move the station to Basford, some one and a half miles to the south, will impact on future regeneration and discourage rail travel by reducing interconnection ability. It has enlisted support of the RMT union and environmental, rail passenger and resident groups in calling for an Early Day Motion asking the Commons Transport Select Committee to review Network Rail’s plans.

But Network Rail North West media relations manager Keith Lumley explained the rationale behind the proposal:
“We are planning a £200 million resignalling and track improvement investment to increase capacity and line speed through Crewe by 2017, and the present station layout – dating essentially from the 1800s – precludes this.

“We are currently considering four options on which we will consult fully with the people of Crewe and all interested parties before any decision is taken. A series of exhibitions and road shows is planned for this autumn.”

Mr Lumley explained that, with an 80mph speed limit on its through lines and potentially conflicting and obstructive movements of South Wales to Manchester services across the North to South routes, the present station, with its restrictive layout and large number of bay platforms, cannot meet the needs of 21st century services.

As well as allowing higher speed through the station and increasing its capacity, relocation at Basford could provide an extensive park and ride facility with ready motorway interchange to help solve current traffic problems around the existing station.

“It is not generally appreciated that 42 per cent of passengers use Crewe as an interchange and never leave the station,” said Mr Lumley.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • nph, crewe

    Anyone who uses Crewe station as a commuter could not possibly want it saved. The station is a disgrace and has been for years. Why are people so opposed to change in this country. The new station will also bring a dual carriageway out to junction 16 which is also a mess at present. If we intergrated travel in this country I could buy a ticket that includes my bus fare to the new station and my train ticket. Why dont people campaign for this instead of for saving a run down station that has had its time and is now an embarressment as a gateway for Crewe

  • Tom Hornby, Macclesfield, England

    Most of the road traffic congestion around Crewe Station has nothing to do with the existence of the station but is due to the fact that there is a great deal of fairly local road traffic attempting to cross the railway using a very few bridges. Moving the station is not, of itself, going to increase the number of road crossing points. Therefore, traffic congestion is not an argument in favour of re-location of the station.

  • Helen Proudfoot, Macclesfield, England

    I am told this vast and astronomically expensive plan is aimed at saving 3 minutes for each non-stopping London to Glasgow train. I find it hard to believe any of the passengers for whose convenience these hundreds of millions would be spent would even notice - and it won't be only 200 million either. When did one of these projects last come in within budget?

  • Gordon Burkinshaw, Bury st Edmunds, UK

    Looking on the web I see that the population of Crewe and Nantwich is around 115,000 with approx 85,000 in Crewe itself. Is this enough to sustain a major rail station? Do we assume that the 58% of passengers exiting Crewe Station all walk or travel by bike or bus to their homes. The answer generally has to be no as a great many will arrive by car or taxi. This would imply that they live a reasonable distance away from the station so moving it would possibly not have a detrimental effect. In fact if passengers can drive and park how many more will be encouraged to use the rail service. Why not then look to introduce a people mover as is the case in Stourbridge but on a bigger scale and utilise the car park as a general park and ride for Crewe centre.

  • Peter James Moore, Morecambe, UK

    Let us be under no illusion, Crewe station is not being re-located , it is being closed and taken off the rail map. The greenfield site at Basford is not in or part of Crewe town, and whilst it may only be about two miles away, the effect will be the same if it were 5 or 10 miles distant. Such a move is bound to accelerate the move away from public transport use and increase car ownership regardless of how effecient or otherwise the dedicated bus link is. Most rail users will be inconvenienced and will look for alternatives.

    In many ways, this harks back to the 1960s and the Beeching rail closures, except that a "closure" then was called as such, so at least it was honest if not popular. Today, such emotive language is not employed and Network Rail talks about "re-location" , whilst at the same time playing the popular green card in selling the idea they are helping to solve traffic congestion problems in Crewe at the same time.

    It is almost cynical to suggest that since 42% of passengers at Crewe are merely changing trains, not too many people will be inconvenienced anyway. This is Crewe, not a declining country halt, and the remaining 58% represents 1,000s of people each day. Most passenger trains through the station already stop there now, and the whole project revolves around a handful of non stop high speed , profit making services from London to Glasgow which can already travel at 80 mph which is not exactly crawling . Higher speed will impact little on overall schedules and is only cost effective for those particular services at the expense of all others. Where is this overuling demand to clip what can only be a few more minutes I wonder, and what overall benefit will the country as a whole gain? On the other side of the country there is a speed restriction through York of about 30 mph for services from London to Edinburgh and Glasgow , yet existing schedules are considered by most users to be more than adequate for present and future requirements .

    No doubt the public will be invited to various meetings and exhibitions where all the tactics of salesmanship and PR will be used, with appropriate cliches to placate every objection. Instead of giving the choice between closure and "re-location" , a number of alernatives will be offered based on the new site, with the public being invited to select the one they consider to be the best of the bunch. By doing this, they will unwittingly be endorsing the closure of Crewe station and will be voting for a park and ride station instead . Bristol Parkway and Southampton Airport Parkway are examples of park and ride stations that complement those in nearby towns and cities, but not instead of.

    The question needs to asked, what is the function of NR if it does not serve the needs of the majority of rail travellers. Is Crewe now in the way of its streamlined organisation , along with other places which may also be identified as obstacles to its market led operations? Are the travelling public expected to fit round its requirements, rather than the other way round ?

    Should this scheme be allowed to proceed, not only will it be a nail in the coffin for Crewe itself, but it will set a dangerous precedent in paving the way for all manner of cost saving measures , involving selected stations and lines which are problematic to NRs smooth operations even though they contribute to the well being of the country as a whole. I sincerely hope the people of the Crewe area use all the resources at their disposal, including local MPs, to oppose this ludicrous scheme.

    Peter Moore (retired rail)

  • H. Harvey, Birmingham

    Is this driven by the engineers or by the property department.
    What benefits will it bring to passengers overall and not just to the long distance commuters.
    Manchester trains and Chester trains will still have to proceed at reduced speed to take thes routes so Basford will mean slower journeys.

    I feel sure a far better result could be obtained by rationalising the station by route and moving it a few hundred yards to the south simplifying the North junction. The Stoke line could also diverge further south than it presently does so.

    An examinmation of the freight bypass routes and their incorporation in the station may be beneficial.

  • Richard Maund, Crewe, England

    So the 58% of users of the station who actually want to be in Crewe are going to be dumped in the boondocks - with Network Rail saying (in the local press) they have no plans for getting people to the town itself......

    Mr Lumley also seems ignorant of the station's history: I have a BR brochure setting out (and I quote) "The dramatic story of the modernisation of track and signals at the historic railway location of Crewe during 1984 and 1985" - in other words, the current layout dates from only 20 years ago.

    And where are the (impecunious) Network Rail expecting to raise the money? Their schemes have already been cut back as part of the HLOS for the next control period.

  • ChubbyCheshire, Crewe, GB

    If 42% never leave the station, that means the majority of people do leave the station !!

    Chris from Swindon - so people from Crewe would have to get a train from Crewe to Basford to be able to go anywhere other than Chester - as a big chunk of the 58% travel to Manchester, Liverpool and London - a lot of use that station would be !! A good way of encouraging car travel !!

  • Chris, Swindon, UK

    As a regular visitor to Crewe over the years I have found the current station to be poorly sited for the town, stuck out as it is on the South Eastern extremity. I would have thought that a new major station, adjacent to the A500 road, would make perfect sense - provided that a second local station is provided closer to the town centre on the Crewe - Chester railway. The current Crewe station does not just serve Crewe, but a much wider hinterland of Southern Cheshire and parts of Staffordshire, from which many potential users have to drive. This solution would better serve the needs of those who have to drive to Crewe to catch a train and those who require a station in the town.

  • George Jones, Wrexham, Wales

    Perhaps Mr Lumley could explain how services to Shrewsbury/Wales & the Borders and Derby/East Midlands are to be catered for at the Basford site?
    I suggest a large portion of the 42% are looking for these cross country routes as connections from the WCML.