Metrolink Challenge

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Cheshire Cat
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Re: Metrolink Challenge

Post by Cheshire Cat » 07 Nov 2014, 21:05

Metrolink is all grown up! With the opening of the airport line earlier this week (over a year early!), it is now quite a meaty challenge, with different possibilities for a route. Three other extensions opened earlier in the year (to Ashton and through Oldham and Rochdale town centres) so it was high time I did the challenge again.

The new lines:
Airport:
It is shoe-horned in with great ingenuity, goes alongside and then over the M60 (scope for gloating in the rush hour) and then passes so close to the end of the runway that you duck when a plane lands. You don't do that on the Piccadilly Line!
Oldham and Rochdale: The diversion into Oldham was clearly built by Looney Tunes! It does a tight right-angled bend off the old formation jut before Werneth Tunnel, complete with black and white chevron sign! It's then cleverly and dramatically shoe-horned to reach the town centre. The Rochdale extension is more prosaic, but at least it now terminates next to the bus station!
Ashton: Rather unexceptional compared to the others, but mainly on reserved track.

I had planned an early rise with a drowsy bus ride to my start point, but at the last minute I found I needed to go to my daughter's assembly today, which led to an even earlier rise and a frenetic car drive! I caught my planned tram, but I missed my first connection, which put a vital bus in jeopardy., (shades of my FNC attempt in August), but there was only 6 minutes to the next tram instead of the expected 12, and that put me back on track. Victoria is closed for re-building and there is just a single track through at present. The services have also been recast, with no trams running between Market St and Picc Gardens, necessitating a quick run. Things went quite well until I got onto the Eccles line (it always seems to go wrong there!) with a wait of 23 minutes! I played snakes and ladders for much of the morning, with several just-missed trams , but I think it was a case of the not-quite getting a tram ahead rather than losing time. I finally broke the curse of Rochdale, with a perfect connection onto a bus in the now easy-to-find bus station, and no scary weirdos either. It's still not my favourite town, though. The GM Standard is still parked outside the hydroponics centre, much to my relief (I didn't see it last time I passed). My final time was 6:27:01, only about 10 minutes adrift on schedule, which I think is inevitable on a network with so much on-street running. Now we await the opening of Exchange Square (hopefully next year) and the rest of the Second City Crossing sometime in 2017, with the Trafford Centre line at some unspecified date in the future.

Pluses
- The plush (indeed airport-like!) bus station at the airport, and quite a nice one in Rochdale too.
- Swift connections onto two buses
- A warm fug on an early morning bus, on a day of what my dad would have called Manchester Weather.
- Catching a tram I didn't know about which let me get a bus I thought I'd missed.
Minuses
- Long waits at Altrincham, Picc Gardens and Bury
- 23 minute wait at Broadway
- Waiting for the token on the single track stretch through Victoria

What the *$%! Moments
- A car driving through the platform tracks at Piccadilly Gardens - not quite sure where she came from, but she must have driven over the entire (pedestrianised) square to get there!
- The huge number of passengers getting of a bus on an apparently deserted tree-lined lane
- A bus with a skew-wiff destination display. It was common in the days of mechanical blinds, but this bus had a DMI!
Metrolink 91 stations 6:27:01
FNC: 18:48:00

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RobbieM
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Re: Metrolink Challenge

Post by RobbieM » 10 Nov 2014, 17:49

May be in the area in January. I need to travel some of these new lines. I did the Ashton line last year, but still have to do the Rochdale one. I did see the Rochdale bus station under construction a couple of years ago, so looking forward to seeing it complete.
After you, madam - I'll wait for the next direct train to Mill Hill East.
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al
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Re: Metrolink Challenge

Post by al » 20 Mar 2017, 09:00

I was in Manchester last Thursday, and with the Second City Crossing now open, thought I would give this network a go. There are now 93 stations, with seven extremities and one stub. I completed in 5h35m16s which was basically on schedule, even though I dropped behind a couple of times (once down to a massive clanger on my part in planning!). There is probably a particular time of day when this can be done quicker, but for the middle of the day I think this was a very competitive time.
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RJSRdg
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Re: Metrolink Challenge

Post by RJSRdg » 21 Mar 2017, 00:54

And now the time to beat, given the change to the network...
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A Challenge
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Re: Metrolink Challenge

Post by A Challenge » 25 Mar 2017, 08:58

I think there is scope for some of:
  • Altrincham :arrow: Manchester Piccadilly (1tph)
  • Manchester Airport :arrow: Manchester Piccadilly / Deansgate (9tph)
  • Ashton-under-Lyne :arrow: Manchester Victoria (2tph)
  • Rochdale :arrow: Manchester Victoria (4tph)
  • Eccles :arrow: Manchester Victoria (1tph)
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Re: Metrolink Challenge

Post by RJSRdg » 25 Mar 2017, 23:06

As the East Lancashire Railway are currently in negotiations with Network Rail to extend from Heywood to Castleton, maybe at some point in the future Bury-Castleton, Casteton-Oldham might be an option!
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RJSRdg
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Re: Metrolink Challenge

Post by RJSRdg » 25 Mar 2017, 23:08

A Challenge wrote:I think there is scope for some of:
  • Altrincham :arrow: Manchester Piccadilly (1tph)
  • Manchester Airport :arrow: Manchester Piccadilly / Deansgate (9tph)
  • Ashton-under-Lyne :arrow: Manchester Victoria (2tph)
  • Rochdale :arrow: Manchester Victoria (4tph)
  • Eccles :arrow: Manchester Victoria (1tph)
Or maybe Manchester Airport > East Didsbury & Parr's Wood.
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Re: Metrolink Challenge

Post by A Challenge » 27 Mar 2017, 06:09

RJSRdg wrote:
A Challenge wrote:I think there is scope for some of:
  • Altrincham :arrow: Manchester Piccadilly (1tph)
  • Manchester Airport :arrow: Manchester Piccadilly / Deansgate (9tph)
  • Ashton-under-Lyne :arrow: Manchester Victoria (2tph)
  • Rochdale :arrow: Manchester Victoria (4tph)
  • Eccles :arrow: Manchester Victoria (1tph)
Or maybe Manchester Airport > East Didsbury & Parr's Wood.
Forgot about that, it is 1 tph Manchester Airport :arrow: East Didsbury :arrow: Manchester Piccadilly :arrow: Deansgate, and so you could do into Manchester from East Didsbury, though it may be quicker to reverse, like it might be at Ashton-under-Lyme
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RJSRdg
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Re: Metrolink Challenge

Post by RJSRdg » 27 Mar 2017, 07:24

Not one I could forget so easily though as the Manchester Airport/Styal line was (just) visible from my back garden when I was growing up!
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Re: Metrolink Challenge

Post by Tube Geek » 23 May 2017, 06:33

Not a good time to try this right now. Not that they'll see this but condolences to all those affected in the Manchester Arena Attack
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Re: Metrolink Challenge

Post by A Challenge » 24 May 2017, 06:19

Do it as fundraising for victims?
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Re: Metrolink Challenge

Post by Tube Geek » 24 May 2017, 06:30

Good idea that. Shame I'm not going to Manchester any time soon though :(
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RJSRdg
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Re: Metrolink Challenge

Post by RJSRdg » 24 May 2017, 09:47

A Challenge wrote:
24 May 2017, 06:19
Do it as fundraising for victims?
Indeed, I know that almost as soon as the Tube Network reopened after 7/7, a number of Forum members did a FNC to raise money for the victims.
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M5000
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Re: Metrolink Challenge

Post by M5000 » 13 Jul 2017, 18:17

I've lived in Manchester for some time now (although not for too much longer), and I had heard about the tube challenge before. When I was living in Salford Quays and getting the Metrolink a lot, I wondered how quickly the entire network could be done, and quickly realised that with Exchange Square open but not yet a through station, and with absolute block working through St Peter's Square, that wasn't the time to do it. I then moved to Fallowfield (so hardly ever got on a tram), the second city crossing opened, but I had forgotten about the challenge. I now am back living within easy reach of a tram stop, and when I started using it again I was so impressed by how much better everything was when I was living in Salford. Six minute frequencies on most lines, St Peter's square now finished and allowing easy interchange between the two city centre lines, the Airport line now going to the city rather than demanding that you change at the windy and exposed Cornbrook, it's all much better than when I was waiting fifteen minutes for a tram and missing my train out of Piccadilly.

So I decided to take it on. I found a route that, theoretically, could just about beat the time set by al upthread, but I doubted that I would. I'm really not that good at running, and at least two of the connections I had planned were in hindsight too tight for me to do. I also made a mistake in planning (turns out I don't know how to use the TfGM journey planner) which put me down on schedule. I pulled into Cornbrook having just seen the tram I need leaving, so had to get the next one. This, by a slice of luck, managed to put me back on schedule, it seemlessly connected with a train that could get me right where I needed to be, which I didn't realise would be the case when I was planning the route.

The Altrincham line then was playing up just enough that I couldn't get ahead. Truth be told, if the tram was on time I probably would have missed it, but if I made it I would have been a tram up, which would have allowed me to beat al's time. Instead, it was late and got turned at Timperley. The tram behind was only a minute behind, but waited a lot at Navigation Road (very annoying single line section). I ended up still on schedule, but wasn't able to make my next connection so then fell behind again, and then fell behind a lot when my train back to town was late. I saw a tram 12 minutes after the one that would have beaten the time leave, so I would have been about 20 minutes down on al's time in the end, but I decided that I'd had enough instead and didn't fancy a long trek out and back before heading home.

I still had a very good day though. I hadn't covered the whole of the network over the last few years, and now I have, even if I didn't go to all of it. I enjoyed putting the route together and was satisfied that it would do what I wanted to do, if I was a faster runner and everything worked perfectly (two very big ifs I know) it would result in a very good time. Perhaps it could be improved further with some tweaks, which I'll probably give a little more thought to. Whether I'll go out and try again, I'm not so sure. Even the small amount of running I did yesterday felt like hard work, and I doubt that I'd ever find it especially enjoyable. Maybe, though.

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al
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Re: Metrolink Challenge

Post by al » 13 Jul 2017, 20:06

Good attempt! :D It is a nice way to spend a few hours, especially the bit between Oldham and Rochdale.
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