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|08/04/2015 WTT (Midnight, 0400 & 1400 starts included)||5.3||22/12/2020|
Additional user-written timetables are available to download here .
Manchester Piccadilly Signalling Control Centre, hereafter referred to as MPSCC, opened in August 1988 covering the area from Levenshulme and East Didsbury through Manchester Piccadilly to Trafford Park, Altrincham (exclusive), Pendleton, and Clifton. Unusually for a signalbox, it is located in an otherwise regular tall office building, which overlooks Piccadilly station. The control system, as opened, was a Westinghouse M5 indications panel with separate control panel, and believed to require four signallers in normal operation. The interlockings were freewired relay interlockings, mostly recontrolled rather than re-locked for Manchester Piccadilly SCC.
Since opening, the panel has been expanded to cover the (as then) new Manchester Airport station – originally two platforms, then three, and now four – and the Bolton and Lostock Junction areas. The Altrincham branch was cut back initially to a siding and then removed completely from MPSCC in the early 1990s – it is now a separate tram system. Crow Nest Junction now also exists inside MPSCC, albeit as a separate Westcad system on the other side of the operating floor. This workstation is included in the simulation.
More electrification has come to MPSCC in the form of wires from Eccles to Manchester Victoria over Ordsall Lane Junction.
Over the next few years the signalling centre will close completely. In 2017, the Ordsall Lane area was re-controlled to Manchester ROC, in conjunction with the construction of the Ordsall Chord line, which allows trains to run directly between Deansgate and Manchester Victoria.
SimSig has tried to recreate the look and feel of the panel. Some compromises were necessary to handle the transition from separate control/indication panels to computer screen, while also adhering to the SimSig design standards.
No infrastructure failures or delays. Additional help is also provided, including Train Descriptions being interposed at sidings when trains enter.
A normal day. Some delays and infrastructure failures.
Points 308 at Slade Lane Junction (The crossover from the Up Slow to the Down Fast at the Longsight end of the junction) have failed and have been locked in the Normal direction. All traffic to the Airport/Wilmslow branch must cross to the Up Slow no later than Ardwick Junction. Note that drivers are unaware of this restriction and will not challenge a route along the Up Fast at Ardwick.
The Up and Down Slow lines are closed at signals MP57 and MP63 respectively. The Down Goods remains accessible.
In 2013, signal boxes at Walkden, Atherton, Crow Nest Jn and Blackrod closed, with control passing to Manchester Piccadilly. The post-recontrol version of these locations is present in all eras.
The 1990 era is a compromise as part of MPSCC didn’t exist in that timeframe, but allows timetables for that era to be run with very minor compromises. The Airport branch has yet to be built, and the line from Altrincham joins the CLC route to Liverpool at Cornbrook; this line became one of the first parts of Manchester's 'Metrolink' tram system in 1992.
There is no platform 12 at Piccadilly. In reality, there was an additional connection between the Up Slow and the high-numbered bays, however this is not simulated at present.
This era simulates Manchester Piccadilly as it was for most of its life. Ardwick TMD was opened in 2006, and 2008 saw the opening of a third platform at Manchester Airport.
A fourth platform at Manchester Airport has been opened; a year previously, additional electrification was commissioned on the Eccles line.
The 2019 era markes the completion of a number of major upgrades, which started to enter service from late 2017. The layout around Deansgate and Ordsall Lane Junction was re-modelled, with the construction of the Ordsall Chord, which connects Deansgate directly to Manchester Victoria. Most of the lines in this area were made bi-directional, and an additional signal section introduced at the new Water Street Junction. In addition, Bolton station was re-modelled, removing the old sidings and goods loops, and adding a fifth platform. Finally, the route from Manchester to Chorley (and on to Euxton Jn) was electrified.
ARS: Select to enable or disable ARS for the game. Note: if disabled, ARS cannot be re-enabled without starting a new game- if in doubt, enable it and then turn off sub-areas.
Full ARS is provided in this simulation.
Automatic Code Insertion (ACI ) is provided at all stations where trains typically terminate and selected other locations. This can be turned on and off on a station-by-station basis.
Due to the unusual configuration of the train describer at Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport, ACI cannot handle divides at these locations, and a warning message stating that not enough berths are available will be generated. You will need to interpose TDs for all divides manually.
The following areas are electrified with 25kV overhead wires in all eras in which they appear:
From December 2013, Castlefield Jn- Eccles was electrified; the route from Manchester Victoria to Ordsall Lane Jn followed in early 2015. This is included in the simulation's 2008-2015 era.
The following lines were electrified in 2019:
Via buttons are provided where there are multiple routes between a pair of signals. If multiple routes are available, the appropriate via button must be used. The buttons must not be used if only one route is available.
The train describer at MPSCC has some fairly unusual bay platform workings. In many signalboxes there is an "arrival" berth shown next to the buffer stops, and a "departure" berth shown at the signal. All trains step into the arrival berth, and all outbound trains step from the departure berth.
However, MPSCC has a system where the train descriptions in a platform (up to four, depending on the platform) shuffle up to the departure signal. If a train comes in on top of another train, all the existing train descriptions in the panel shuffle down to make room for the inbound train description. With a couple or more trains already in the platform, this process can take a couple of seconds, during which time the inbound train's description disappears (held in an invisible holding berth) until space has been made.
See the individual panel sections below for details on how best to interpose new trains. Due to the unusual arrangement, ACI will not handle divides.
This relatively small panel was created when the Manchester Airport station opened in 1993. It is suitable for beginners but is still an important panel as the opportunity to misregulate is high, causing knock-on delays to adjacent panels.
All the work is focussed around the triangle junction at Heald Green and the airport itself, though the operator does need to watch trains approaching from Slade Lane, and regulate trains towards the same.
Since its opening, the majority of trains on the Heald Green panel go via, or to/from, the Airport. All freights bypass the Airport, as do a handful of passenger trains in the early morning and late evening (for driver route knowledge). Reading the timetable is crucial to correct routing.
The Airport station in 2016 has four platforms, each with A and B ends. The A end is at the buffer stops. Trains are usually timetabled with A or B in the platform code (eg 2A) which can imply double docking if the inbound is a B and the A end is occupied – but again, read the timetable! It is not a good idea to trap an outbound service.
In the 1990 era, this panel has extremely little to do. It is recommended that the Longsight signaller handles the panel in this era.
The airport tripwire is not active in the simulation as it is pretty much “game over” if it gets tripped. The overhead power also gets cut and not just in the airport area. Something hitting the tripwire in real life is likely a major incident involving danger to life and limb which SimSig does not replicate.
East Didsbury Ground Frame is an emergency trailing crossover. It consists of a release lever, a points lever, and simulated hand signals.
Flashing yellow approaches to the junctions at Heald Green allow for higher speed traversals. However, route must be set over the junction before the flashing yellow would be visible to the driver.
Don’t set routes out of the Airport station until the TRTS has been operated. The train might not be ready and you don't want to activate the approach locking timeout if another train can go.
This panel is very short but also has a large number of parallel tracks. While most trains pass through very quickly, there are also a large number that originate from, or terminate in, the extensive depot at Longsight.
However, outside the peak periods of depot usage, this can be a panel for the less experienced.
Once trains depart Stockport and Heaton Norris has route set over its junction, train descriptions will appear in the train approach berths (fast or slow, as appropriate). On the one hand you need to start thinking about non-stop trains as soon as they strike in; on the other hand you've got a few minutes before the stopping trains become an issue. Note that non-stop trains also use the slow lines.
The odd looking layout at Slade Lane is designed to match what the signallers see on the real life panel. Points 303B/C are actually a switched diamond crossing, as are 306C/314. The latter is arranged unusually to provide the correct flank protection for any errant, overrunning trains. When authorising trains to pass signals at danger in this area without having a route set you should double check the points are correctly aligned and locked. In real life often a second signaller will double check for you – an idea worth pursuing in multiplayer games.
The fast lines at Slade Lane, in both directions, are straight and thus have no approach control. MP35 to MP24 is a diverging route with approach control, despite the apparent straightness on the panel.
Routes up to MP41 cannot be set while a route is set from MP56 to MP37 and vice versa. It is unclear why this restriction exists in real life.
Double red protection exists on many signals in the Longsight area. This is where a signal is held at red until a train is closely approaching if the next signal is red with no routes set. Setting a route (without it even proving or its entry signal showing a proceed aspect) steps up most of those signals to a single yellow. Care should thus be taken when putting signals back to danger if a train is approaching as a double red protection requires an additional signal section clear on the approach to avoid a time-out and aspect reversion for the approaching driver.
There is no route from signal MP25 to Longsight depot (behind MP39 signal). Routes from MP26 and MP13 require a slot which can be requested by placing a call to “Longsight Depot (13/26)”. This should be done as soon as possible in the case of MP26 because more trains could be behind and get delayed if the depot train is still waiting for the slot at MP26. You have a little more time for MP13.
The routes between MP36 and MP39 have opposing locking omitted, which means both can be set simultaneously and both will remain set until cancelled manually.
For Longsight departures at MP39 and MP44 the depot shunter will call to advise the description of outbound trains. In Easy mode the description will be interposed for you; otherwise (per real life) it must be entered manually.
For Longsight departures at MP66 and MP67 the depot shunter will call to advise the description of outbound trains. In Easy mode the description will be interposed for you; otherwise (per real life) it must be entered manually.
For Longsight departures at MP74 to MP77 the depot shunter will interpose the description for you and there is no other communication required.
For Depot/Wheel Lathe departures at MP65 and MP83 the shunter will telephone you to advise of the train's headcode and ask for permission for it to approach the exit signal. Note that there is no train describer berth at either of these signals so the next signal along should be used instead.
For Longsight arrivals behind MP74 to MP77 the shunter needs to be telephoned to advise of the inbound train’s headcode, and will grant a slot when appropriate. Trains can be queued on the Up Goods line to await a slot.
There are two paths between signal MP303 and each of MP337/349/347/1155/345/343. When setting any of these routes, click on signal MP303 first, then click on your choice of either “C” or “B” via buttons, then on the appropriate exit signal. No other routes use these via buttons and routesetting will fail if an attempt to use them is made.
This is the busiest panel at MPSCC and should be reserved for more experienced players in multiplayer. The operator needs to keep on top of interposing new train descriptions at Piccadilly and it is recommended that this is done before the train even arrives - more below.
The potential for Mexican stand-offs is moderately high in this area. This is where two or more trains are facing each other, not necessarily on the same track, and both their rear ends block each other's path with no way out.
Use of the correct line (fast/slow) is not crucial due to similar linespeeds and no stations, but it would be courteous to inform the Longsight operator if a train is not on its booked line.
As mentioned earlier, the train describer at Piccadilly is a little unusual. Train descriptions gravitate to the signal end of the platform and inbound train descriptions push them towards the buffers to make room.
Piccadilly has a large number of trains that reverse without changing headcode – often going to or from the airport. For those trains there is no train describing required as nothing is changing, and the train describer system is set up to handle these better than a “last arrival” / “first departure” kind of setup that is common elsewhere.
For trains that terminate in an empty bay platform, it is recommended that the new description is interposed at the signal before the train arrives. When the train does arrive, it will push your manually entered description towards the buffers. The inbound description can then be cancelled, allowing the manual description to ripple back to the signal, ready for departure.
In real life and thus the simulation it is not possible to set MP302 to MP97/88 until you have set a route to MP302. The same restriction doesn't apply to the route from MP304 to MP96.
Signal 313 is approach controlled for all routes, from berth track occupied to berth track occupied for 6 or 15 seconds, depending on the route.
Signals MP326 and MP334 cannot have routes set if MP324 or MP332 (as appropriate) have trains routed towards or beyond them. The opposite also applies. Routes can be set once a train is at rest at MP324/332 or the routes to/from them released.
TC overrides provide a confirmation step for partially occupied shunt routes from ground position light signals such as
MP1137 to MP345. They are not used for routes from main signals such as MP305 to MP345. Only the final, or penultimate, track section in the route may be occupied. When the first train is in the penultimate or final track section, set the route on top of it from the relevant shunt signal. Finally, right-click on the “T” roundel next to the occupied track. The shunt signal will then show a proceed aspect.
Shunt exits are provided to indicate to drivers that they will be expected to reverse. These are shown on the screen with exit triangles immediately prior to the signal that would normally be the exit for routesetting. They should only be used for non-passenger trains that are going to be reversing. For example, to reverse behind MP1151 on the Up East line, set a route from the platform starter signal (eg MP350 in platform 1 to the exit triangle before MP340. Note that the train’s timetable also needs to have appropriate locations in order to do the reversing – aspects/routes alone won’t cause it to reverse. See the Timetables section for further details.
There are via buttons in the Piccadilly station throat. Any route which has a choice of paths to its destination (such as MP341 to platform 3, or platform 9 to MP332) must make use of the via button. For example, left click MP341, followed by via button D, followed by the exit arrow in platform 3. Similarly, MP374, via button N or J, then exit signal MP332. If a route has no alternative then do not use the via buttons otherwise routesetting will fail.
The signals in platforms 9 to 12 (MP390/376/378/380) won’t show proceed unless signal MP374 is showing proceed. Furthermore, the same type of route must be set: for example, if a main aspect is showing at MP374, then a main route has to be set from MP390/376/378/380; conversely, if a call-on or shunt route is set to MP374 then a call-on or shunt route must be set from MP374 also.
Piccadilly has Lime Street Control on platforms 1 to 10. Each platform has two track sections which we’ll refer to as the buffer TC (right hand end) and the signal TC (left hand end). Each of the approach signals (MP341/343/345/347/349) has a short berth track plus other approach tracks. For a calling-on route to show proceed into an occupied platform, one of the following two scenarios must be true:
1. The buffer TC must be occupied, the signal TC may be occupied, and the berth TC must be occupied.
2. The buffer TC must be occupied, the signal TC may be occupied, the berth TC must be occupied, and the approach TCs must be clear.
It is not foolproof, and does not work for platforms 11 and 12 where there is only one track section each, nor at all for platforms 13 and 14. It also does not handle long trains into too-short platforms that are otherwise clear – for example, putting a 12-car train into platform 10.
The engine siding can only be exited at the Piccadilly end in the 2016 era as the route from MP1138 to MP326 is disconnected in this era, as are a few other routes.
MP337 in the Mayfield Goods Loop cannot be set unless MP349 already has a route set. In addition, MP337 will not show a proceed aspect until MP349 is also showing a proceed aspect.
Through trains on Platforms 13 and 14 should normally be signalled to stop at the far end (13A and 14A when the platforms are used in the usual direction). Stopping positions are such that the overlap of the mid-platform signal is occupied, preventing a second arrival until the first starts to leave the station.
Platforms 13 and 14 are permissive only from the mid-platform signals- call-on routes cannot be set from signals outside the station if the near-end half of the platform is occupied.
A fairly busy panel, this requires co-operation with your neighbour at Piccadilly when it comes to regulating freight trains out of Trafford Park. Generally this happens up to once per hour but the issue is getting that freight train through Piccadilly and into a safe place or routed away, without blocking or causing other delays to other trains. It is suggested that this be an intermediate level panel.
Signal MP422 is approach controlled unless signal MP416 is showing proceed. Signal MP424 will not show a proceed aspect until MP416 is showing a proceed aspect (no approach control unlike parallel MP422).
The overlap at MP414 will not time out. This is because a train standing at this signal is foul of the line past signal MP418. Photo
In 2019 mode, there is no route between the platform starter signals at Oxford Road and Signal 463. Any Down trains running over the Up line from Deansgate must be signalled via 455.
Warner routes are available from MP458 at Deansgate to MP436/438 at Oxford Road. There is no reduced overlap beyond those signals. Conversely, warner routes exist to MP447/449 and these *do* have a short overlap beyond.
Signals MP436/438 are approach controlled unless the next signal (MP414/418) is off.
There's only about 85m between MP462 and Castlefield Jn- be very careful letting a train from Trafford Park approach this signal at red; given that drivers stop short of the signal, only two or three car formations are guaranteed not to block Castlefield Jn when stopped at the signal.
Platform codes with an "X" indicate that the train needs to use the full length of the platforms in the up direction (towards Piccadilly), and that they won't fit into the near end of the platform.
The largest panel by geographic area, this requires a lot of scanning over the screen to check what is approaching and what needs doing. Add to that very little notification of incoming trains from Eccles and Manchester Victoria (on Manchester North simulation) and this is a panel that can’t be ignored for more than a minute or two.
The simulation has the panel split into two. This allows an extra person to control the simulation in a multiplayer, particularly where both Windsor Bridge signallers are less experienced. The Windsor Bridge 2 panel can also be co-controlled with Crow Nest workstation as the latter can be very quiet and monotonous.
The routes to Manchester Victoria from Water St Jn and Ordsall Lane Jn are bi-directional. You will need to request a slot from Manchester North to send a train in the wrong direction; similarly, Manchester North will request a slot from you if they wish to send a train wrong-direction. Take care when using the bi-directional facilities in 2019 mode, as the number of junctions means that it's very easy to get two trains into a stand-off. The Up Chat Moss towards Manchester Victoria is only bi-directional in the 2019 era.
The labelled tracks “C”, “B”, and “A” from Manchester Victoria roughly equate to the three signalling sections between Victoria and Piccadilly’s first signal. When the “C” track lights up, the train has passed the platform starting signal at Victoria.
Similarly, the “F”, and “E” tracks light up on the other approach from Victoria. When the “E” track lights up it means the train has passed the starting signal at Salford Central. For trains stopping at the latter, this is when route should be set into Salford Crescent.
As mentioned already, the approaches from Victoria and Eccles are very short time-wise, so you really need to be deciding your next moves over Ordsall Lane and Salford Crescent right away, even if you don’t need to do anything immediately after making that decision.
The Arrival line at the Eurofreight terminal has never been commissioned, hence why it is shown with reminders in the simulation. Note that the terminal is variously referred to as Eurofreight, Brindle Heath, and Agecroft. From the position light ground signal at the Eurofreight terminal, the only route available is to MP514.
The single line through Entwistle is protected by a slot that is controlled from Preston PSB. MPSCC do not the ability to request the slot (except by telephone in real life if necessary). Instead, Preston grant the slot automatically when a train is approaching Bromley Cross. There is a second slot that affects both MP657 and MP658 for the crossing at Bromley Cross. This is not indicated on the panel, except very recently, but if the signals are at red with route set and tracks clear then most likely the Bromley Cross slot has not been granted.
A flashing yellow sequence is provided at Lostock Jn for the route towards Westhoughton.
This small Westcad workstation replaced signalboxes at Atherton and Crow Nest. It is a very simple workstation with not so many trains. Long signal sections combine with few trains to make this less interesting – but also makes it prone to inattention!
Double red protection exists on MP811 and MP803. This should only be of concern if replacing signal MP809 to danger as it would also replace MP811 and MP813, or MP803 and MP801.
The timetables provided use actual stock workings where available, or scheduled stock when not. It is often joked that Northern Rail have a random multiple unit generator as you never know what will turn up! This is not necessarily a bad thing as it shows some flexibility on Northern Rail's part.
There is only one level crossing in the simulation, 'The Oaks' User-worked crossing , located between Hall i' th' Wood and Bromley Cross on the Darwen line.
Six people should ideally play the simulation for a weekday timetable. The effort/experience level varies a lot depending on the panel – for example, Piccadilly is very busy with terminating and reversing trains, while Crow Nest Junction is fairly monotonous, repetitive, and idle. The Windsor Bridge panel, while not overly complex or busy, requires a lot of screen area to monitor which proved to be a little intimidating during initial testing and so has been split down the middle, forming two panels. Of course, a player can operate both panels if desired.
The simulation chains at the following locations:
|Hunts Cross||Glazebrook East Jn|
|Manchester North||Manchester Victoria (from Salford Cresent, Ordsall Lane Jn and Water St Jn)|
|Stockport||Heaton Norris Jn|
|Warrington||Wigan Station Junction|
Bi-Di working on the Chat Moss line from Eccles towards Manchester is not implemented when chained with Warrington.
Provision exists for the simulation to chain at other fringes, should the corresponding simulation be developed in the future.
In addition to the standard shortcut keys , the following are available:
Number keys 1 to 8 scroll across from left (1) to right (8) at the top of the layout. Number keys 9 and 0 scroll to Manchester Airport and the Crow Nest workstation respectively.
Simulation by: Geoff Mayo
08/04/2015 WTT by: John Mills (Meld)
Many thanks to Andrew Gardiner and Karl Latham for suffering through multiple visits to the signalling centre, and for providing other technical information. Many thanks to John Mills (MELD) for writing the timetable and deciphering Northern Rail's DMU roulette. Many thanks to the staff at MPSCC for their invaluable help via Andrew and Karl.
- Hybrid plan of 3 eras.
These are Adobe Acrobat PDF files. If you don't have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer you can get a free download of the latest version from the Adobe website . Use the built-in Find function (Ctrl+F) to locate signal numbers.
|HN||Heaton Norris Jn*|
|MC||Manchester ROC (Manchester Central area)*|
*Fringe box, signals not controlled in this simulation.
Non-prefixed signals are plated MP (Manchester Piccadilly)
|Bolton (1)||138m down; 189m up|
|Bolton (3)||224m down; 310m up|
|Oxford Road (1)||106m|
|Oxford Road (2)||161m|
|Oxford Road (3)||138m|
|Oxford Road (4)||163m|
|Oxford Road (5)||106m|
|Manchester Piccadilly (1-4)||242-245m|
|Manchester Piccadilly (5)||345m|
|Manchester Piccadilly (6-7)||282m|
|Manchester Piccadilly (8)||349m|
|Manchester Piccadilly (9)||341m|
|Manchester Piccadilly (9) (signal 390)||217m|
|Manchester Piccadilly (10)||195m|
|Manchester Piccadilly (11-12)||105m|
|Manchester Piccadilly (13-14)||268m-280m|
|Manchester United FC||146m|
|Mayfield Goods Loop||124m|
Trains scheduled to enter at Stockport on the slow lines but destined for Longsight without reversal will instead enter on the fast line as Longsight is inaccessible from the slow lines.
Longsight has only one location for the up side yard/depot complex. One cannot specify that a train should exit on the Washing Plant line, or the North Shed Sidings, for example. Instead, those slots are granted pseudorandomly.
The yard at Ashburys is only accessible directly from the Arr/Dep road near Ardwick. Because the yard is outside the area simulated, a special location of “Ashburys Arr/Dep” has been provided which will force the train to use that line instead of direct to AS896.
The Holding Siding at Piccadilly has no separate location. Instead use Piccadilly with a platform code of HS.
In the 1990 era, Sale is the entrance/exit location for trains from/to Altrincham.
Agecroft North and Agecroft South are both usable as reversal points behind MP516 and MP1219 respectively.
|Splash 1||Manchester Piccadilly on the real panel|
|Splash 2||Castlefield Jn/Ordsall Lane Jn (pre-Ordsall Chord) on the real panel|
|Splash 3||Manchester Airport and the Heald Green triangle on the real panel|
|Splash 4||Manchester Airport and the Heald Green triangle on the real panel|
|Splash 5||Longsight on the real panel|
|Splash 6||Crow Nest Junction WestCad workstation|
An approximate MPSCC timeline follows:
|Geographical map of simulation area||Geographical map of simulation area|
|Manchester Picc to Hadfield round trip||Cab ride from Manchester Piccadilly to Hadfield and return|
Last edited by Steamer on 23/12/2020 at 17:49