A few minutes around Manchester Victoria

Manchester remains a major railway hub for passengers and freight. In common with many other towns and cities across Britain it once boasted several major stations as different companies fought to better their rivals.

For the northern edge of Manchester’s city centre, this competition saw two stations built almost side by side. The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway had Victoria and the London & North Western Railway built Exchange after it concluded that sharing Victoria with the LYR was not in its interests.

Exchange closed in 1969 although its impressive train shed roof lasted until the 1980s. Victoria remains open and now has a new roof being erected over its south-eastern corner. Victoria lost a large part of its roof to the construction of Manchester Arena in the 1990s. What was left was in poor condition and played in large part in the station gaining a reputation for being an unpleasant place. This was despite its original buildings being listed for architectural merit.

Philip Haigh Manchester 190614 IMG_1461Looking from the eastern footbridge at Manchester Victoria station on June 19 2014 shows the partially erected new roof for the station. PHILIP HAIGH.

Philip Haigh Manchester 190614 IMG_1473

Manchester Victoria is served by the city’s tram network as well as heavy rail services. While work goes on to erect the station’s new roof, trams do not call and passengers must use nearby Shudehill instead. The work has closed one of the tram route’s two tracks and so all trams must use a single track, such as 3058 heading for East Didsbury on June 19 2014. PHILIP HAIGH.

Victoriacgic04-2This is an artist’s impression of Manchester Victoria’s new roof. NETWORK RAIL.

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This is the view west from Manchester Victoria. Northern Rail units sit in Manchester Victoria West Junction’s turnback siding awaiting their next duties on June 19 2014. Masts are in place for the route’s forthcoming electrification. On the left is the a reminder of Manchester Exchange station – the footbridge that linked that station’s concourse with the island platform that housed Platform 4 and 5. PHILIP HAIGH.

Philip Haigh Manchester 190614 IMG_1480

Looking west from what was once the concourse of Exchange station but is now a car park. Manchester Arena dominates the view with Victoria station beneath. The view shows the different levels for rail, road and water. The hefty bridge carries the Salford Lines over the River Irwell. The River Irk appears from under the road on the opposite bank. PHILIP HAIGH.

Philip Haigh Manchester 190614 IMG_1482

This ramp is the Salford Approach to Exchange station that runs down to the junction of Chapel Street and Blackfriars Road. It was one of two approaches to Exchange whilst, on another level, there was a Cab Approach road. Today the concourse of exchange station is a car park but the station’s footbridge survives for railway staff only. The remains of the island platform to which it links also survives. PHILIP HAIGH.

By Philip Haigh

Freelance railway writer, former deputy editor at RAIL magazine - news, views and analysis of today's railway.

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