The Northern Colossus: A Manchester-wank CFTL

Bumping with a bit of an announcement.

With my time ever more limited by work, I decided that I need to actually concentrate on the hobbies I'm really into, such as AH writing. With this in mind, I'm going to revive this TL for the time being while working on an as of yet unnamed 18th Century TL and maybe even an update of of my Pontic TL every once in a while.

The idea with this TL is to write about ATL's Manchester from the 2016 perspective, looking at the history that way. I think it will be a more interesting way to portray the city, and may even keep me interested.
 
A Short Guide to Manchester's Railway History

Manchester’s Railways have been dominated by the largest station, Manchester Piccadilly. Built in 1839 as “Manchester London Road”, it soon became the hub of railways headed south. The station was rebuilt in 1854, and again in 1869. The expansion of services coming out of the station found competition in the growth of Manchester Victoria, which served as Manchester’s main connection to Liverpool and the North following the closure of the famous Liverpool Road station. Despite this spirit of competition, plans for an underground connection between the two were floated as early as the late 1860s, following the success seen by the London Underground. As it was though, Manchester’s underground system would not become a reality until the 1890s.

The largest change to the dynamics of Manchester’s rail system in the 19th century following the establishment of Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria would be the building of the Manchester Ordsall station. Built initially as a way to relieve both services coming from Victoria and Piccadilly, its popularity serving the area of Salford as well as ensuring easier transport between Piccadilly and Victoria soon served to boost it to the level of Manchester’s third station. The three stations would all be linked with the opening of Manchester’s underground system. The first line of the Manchester underground, the Circle Line was opened by the Lord Mayor on behalf of the City of Manchester Corporation on the 16th of June 1894. In a suitably grand speech, he declared that this was very much a symbol of Manchester taking its place among the cities of the 20th century.

Manchester’s rail system grew from strength to strength, having a system only second to London’s. Alongside this, the beginning of the 20th century saw a growth of Manchester’s underground system. The Southern Line was completed in 1908, joined by the Eastern Line in 1919. Both of these lines were intended to join the denser outer areas of the city such as Salford and Longsight to the central city. Alongside the railways and tramways, these served to make areas outside of the central line more accessible, and are a major factor in enabling the regeneration of areas like Salford, which have become sought after in recent years by urban professionals working in the core of Manchester.

The darkest days for Manchester’s burgeoning rail network would come in the 1950s and 1960s, particularly with the now-infamous Oakley Rail cuts. Although Manchester’s rail system was saved the butchering seen in smaller cities such as Liverpool and Birmingham, it was nevertheless pruned in comparison to London’s, something which caused a lot of resentment among Mancunians. The system has seen a revival in recent years, as previously abandoned stations such as Styal and Oldham have been reopened in the light of growing demand in the areas. Since the beginning of the 1990s, rail passenger numbers have increased swiftly with Piccadilly reaching an all-time high of 44 million passengers in 2015.

Railways have always played a huge part of Manchester’s self-identity, with the world’s oldest passenger station still remaining in the city and functioning both as an underground station and a museum. Recent excitement has been palpable in the discussions focusing on the possibility of a new underground line serving the Southwest and Southeast of the city. Although some critics have argued for the beginnings of a light-rail system due to cost, the consensus among the city dwellers at the moment seems to support an expansion of the much-beloved underground.

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Manchester's underground map
 
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