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Manchester Oxford Road railway station


Manchester Oxford Road railway station

Manchester Oxford Road
The Grade-II listed timber facade of the station
Place Manchester city centre
Local authority City of Manchester
Grid reference
Station code MCO
Managed by

Northern Rail

Network Rail (from 2016)
Number of platforms 5
DfT category C1
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2004/05  0.562 million
2005/06 0.625 million
2006/07 4.331[1] million
2007/08 1.249[1] million
2008/09 5.212[1] million
2009/10 6.650 million
2010/11 7.116 million
2011/12 7.077 million
2012/13 7.149 million
2013/14 7.555 million
Passenger Transport Executive
PTE Greater Manchester
Original company Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway
Pre-grouping Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway
Post-grouping Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway
20 July 1849 Opened
1960 Rebuilt
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Manchester Oxford Road from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
UK Railways portal

Manchester Oxford Road railway station is an elevated railway station in the city centre of Manchester, England, at the junction of Whitworth Street West and Oxford Street. It opened in 1849 and was rebuilt in 1960. Historically a station for local services, it has undergone redevelopment in recent years and is the second busiest station in the Manchester station group.

The station serves the southern part of Manchester city centre, the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, and is on the most-served bus route in Europe. It has a ticket office, waiting rooms, automatic ticket gates, toilets, a buffet and a newsagent. It stands on a line from Manchester Piccadilly westwards towards Warrington Bank Quay, Chester, Llandudno, Liverpool, Preston and Blackpool. Eastbound trains go beyond Piccadilly to Crewe, Leeds, Sheffield and other towns in Northern England.

The station is notable for its laminated wood structures and was Grade II listed in 1995. English Heritage describes it as a "building of outstanding architectural quality and technological interest; one of the most dramatic stations in England."[2] The station will undergo major renovation from 2016 as part of the Northern Hub plan, and its management is expected to be taken over by Network Rail.[3]

The station's cats help prevent problems caused by pigeons, rats and mice and are popular with passengers and regular commuters. They have been described as the "most photographed" cats in Manchester.[4]


  • History 1
    • Future 1.1
  • Architecture 2
  • Service pattern 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


The station was opened as Oxford Road on 20 July 1849 by the Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway (MSJAR).[5] The station was the headquarters of the MSJAR from its opening until 1904. It had two platforms and two sidings, with temporary wooden buildings. To allow for extra trains in connection with the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition in 1857, extra platforms and sidings were built. In 1874 the station was completely rebuilt providing two bay platforms and three through platforms. Further reconstruction took place during 1903-04. From 1931 it was served by the MSJAR's 1500V DC electric trains between Altrincham and Manchester Piccadilly.

From July 1959, Altrincham electric trains were cut back from Piccadilly to terminate at Oxford Road in two new bay platforms. The station's other lines were re-electrified at 25 kV AC. The whole station was again rebuilt and reopened on 12 September 1960. When Manchester Central railway station closed in 1969, further rebuilding took place: one of the bay platforms was taken out of use and a new through platform provided (platform 1), the others being renumbered accordingly. The track layout was changed so that there were four through and one bay platforms. In 1971 the Altrincham line was re-electrified at 25 kV AC and the 1930s DC trains withdrawn; from then on, local trains from Altrincham ran through to Piccadilly and on to Crewe. Oxford Road thus became predominantly a through station.

Use of the station increased from May 1988 when the Windsor Link was inaugurated between Deansgate and Salford Crescent, connecting lines to the north and south of Manchester. This led to further investment in the station, including the installation of computer screens.

In 1992 the station's original raison d'etre as the terminus for Altrincham disappeared when the Altrincham line stopping service was converted to light rail operation for the Manchester Metrolink. Oxford Road, once served almost entirely by suburban stopping trains, now has many more longer-distance services.

The station, a Grade II listed structure, requires frequent maintenance. In 2004 the station roof was partially refurbished to prevent leaking. In 2011, facilities such as platform shelters, seats and toilets were refurbished at a cost of £500,000.[6] In 2013 the station received a £1.8 million renovation to improve access, including lifts and an emergency exit.[7]


In the Northern Hub plans, the platforms will be extended to allow use by longer trains. The bay platform will be removed to allow the other platforms to be extended.[8]


Manchester Oxford Road station platforms with the distinctive canopies

The station had become dilapidated by the 1950s, and in connection with the electrification and modernisation programme of the Manchester to London line in 1960, the old buildings were replaced by the current structure by architects W.R. Headley and Max Glendinning and structural engineer Hugh Tottenham. It was designed in a distinctive style in concrete and wood with curves bringing to mind the Sydney Opera House.

The station is a grade II listed building. In Pevsner's Architectural Guide - Manchester it is described as

One of the most interesting and innovative buildings of the period ... the most ambitious example in this country of timber conoid shell roofing.
— Clare Hartwell, Pevsner's Architectural Guide - Manchester, p.36


One of the most remarkable and unusual stations in the country both for the architectural form and the technological is the most dramatic and it is an important example of the deployment of timber to achieve large roof spans incorporating clerestory lighting.
— Clare Hartwell, Pevsner's Architectural Guide - Manchester, p.178

The choice of timber was forced by the weak viaduct on which the station is situated; anything heavier could have compromised its structural strength. The station has three overlapping conoid structures although they are only viewable from above. The light conoid roofs allow for a column-free interior space, maximising space and reducing load.[9]

Despite its architectural acclaim, the structure began to deteriorate within ten years. The roof started to leak and for years the station's platform buildings were encased in scaffolding and other metalwork (partially to support the structure and prevent material falling on the platforms and passengers). Partial remedial refurbishment was completed in 2004.

Service pattern

A Northern Rail Class 142 in platform 5, the former Altrincham bay
A First TransPennine Express Class 185, at platform 4, with a service to Manchester Airport
An East Midlands Trains Class 158 at the station

This is reduced on a Sunday, most services operating hourly. There are various other peak services. All eastbound trains (those to Hazel Grove, Scarborough, Nottingham, Norwich and Manchester Airport) also call at Manchester Piccadilly.


  1. ^ a b c Figures not comparable because of changes in definition.
  2. ^ "Manchester Oxford Road station (including platform structures)".  
  3. ^ "Our plans: Manchester Oxford Road". Network Rail. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  4. ^ "Station cat earns her own fan club".  
  5. ^ Dixon, Frank (1994). The Manchester South Junction & Altrincham Railway (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oakwood Press.  
  6. ^ "Sensitive Design: It Works". Manchester Confidential. 28 November 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  7. ^ Cox, Charlotte (20 September 2013). "Manchester Oxford Road station is on track for overhaul". Manchester Evening News. 
  8. ^ "Network Rail plans more trains through Manchester". BBC News. 12 July 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  9. ^ "Oxford Road Railway Station". Manchester Modernist Society. 7 April 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 

External links

  • Train times and station information for Manchester Oxford Road railway station from National Rail
Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Birchwood   First TransPennine Express
North TransPennine
Deansgate   First TransPennine Express
TransPennine North West Manchester - Blackpool/Barrow/Windermere/Preston
Wigan North Western
or Preston
or Bolton
  First TransPennine Express
TransPennine North West Manchester - Glasgow/Edinburgh
Irlam or
Birchwood or
Warrington Central
  East Midlands Trains
Newton-le-Willows   Arriva Trains Wales
Chester to Manchester Line
Deansgate or
Manchester United FC Halt
(match days only)
  Northern Rail
Liverpool to Manchester Line
Newton-le-Willows or
Eccles (on Sundays)
  Northern Rail
Liverpool to Manchester Airport Line
Deansgate or
Salford Crescent
  Northern Rail
Mid-Cheshire Line
Deansgate   Northern Rail
Manchester to Preston Line
Deansgate   Northern Rail
Buxton Line
Deansgate   Northern Rail
Stafford-Manchester Line
Terminus   Northern Rail
Crewe-Manchester Line
Styal Line
Salford Crescent or
  Northern Rail
Manchester Airport-Southport
Disused railways
Line closed, station open
  BR (London Midland Region)
Mid-Cheshire Line
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