This glass roof spans platforms 1 - 12 at Piccadilly station

Manchester Piccadilly (Manchester)

This guide to taking trains from and to Manchester Piccadilly station focuses on the less obvious aspects of arriving and departing from this station by train.

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Piccadilly station has recently been cleaned up so it has never looked smarter Piccadilly station has recently been cleaned up so it has never looked smarter
The area of the concourse between the entrance and the platforms (on the left) The area of the concourse between the entrance and the platforms (on the left)

An introduction

If you walk from the city centre, you'll aceess Piccadilly station through this entrance If you walk from the city centre, you'll aceess Piccadilly station through this entrance

Piccadilly is the main station in Manchester, and it is located towards the south eastern corner of the city centre.

The key thing worth knowing Manchester Piccadilly is that the trains use two distinct, but connected, parts of the station.

Platforms (tracks) 1 to 12:

The beautifully restored main train has spanned platforms 1-12 since 1883 The beautifully restored main train has spanned platforms 1-12 since 1883

Platforms (tracks) 1-12 are beside the main concourse, so the access and exits from them is no different to using a terminus station – you remain on the one level.
Therefore using this part of the station is pretty much as simple as using a large station can be.
If your train is departing from this part of the station, it will be steps away from the ticket office and the main departure screens.

The long-distance train services which uses these platforms (tracks) 1-12 are:

Train Operating Company

Destinations

Avanti West Coast

London via Milton Keynes

CrossCountry

Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bristol, Coventry, Exeter, Oxford, Southampton and south-west England

Trans Pennine Express

(1) Hull via Leeds
(2) Cleethorpes via Sheffield

Northern

Stopping trains to Sheffield

Transport For Wales

Cardiff via Shrewsbury, Hereford and Newport

Platforms (tracks) 13 and 14:

Looking along platform 14, trains tend to depart from its 'b' end Looking along platform 14, trains tend to depart from its 'b' end
A train awaits departure from the 'a' end of platform 13 A train awaits departure from the 'a' end of platform 13

In contrast, platforms (tracks) 13 and 14 are located in a separate part of station, which is some distance from the main concourse, so accessing the trains that use these platforms (tracks) is comparatively awkward.

The trains to Manchester Airport depart from this part of the station, along with these Long-Distance train services:

Train Operating Company

Destinations

East Midland Trains

(1) Norwich via Sheffield, Nottingham, Peterborough and Ely
(2) Liverpool

Trans Pennine Express

(1) Edinburgh or Glasgow via Preston, Oxenholme (Lake District), Penrith (North Lakes) and Carlisle
(2) Newcastle via Leeds and York and Durham
(3) Middlesbrough via Leeds and York

Northern

(1) Blackpool via Preston
(2) Windermere via Preston, Oxenholme and Kendal
(3) Barrow-in-Furness via Preston and Grange-over-sands
(4) Liverpool

Transport For Wales

Llandudno via Chester and Rhyl

Though if you will be heading to Middlesbrough, Newcastle or York from Manchester city centre AND you can book online in advance –meaning that you’ll have reserved seats, ShowMeTheJourney recommends joining these trains at Manchester Victoria station.
The access to these trains is less convoluted at Victoria and your end-to-end journey will also be faster, because these trains make their final call in Manchester at Victoria station.

Though if you will be booking tickets last minute station, so you won’t have assigned seats, you’ll have more chance of claiming a spare seats(s) if you join these trains at Piccadilly.

Also try to avoid these trains that depart from this part of Piccadilly station if you will be travelling to Leeds.
The hourly Trans Pennine Express trains, which call at Leeds on route to Hull, depart from the part of Piccadilly station, which is right by the main concourse.
Or if the starting point of your journey to Leeds is in Manchester city centre, head to Victoria station, as it has 5 x trains per hour to Leeds.

If you will be heading to Liverpool from Manchester city centre, ShowMeTheJourney’s suggestion is to take the alternative Trans Pennine Express trains from Victoria station.
They’re slightly faster and just as frequent, but Victoria is a simpler train station to use; and if you book the journey online you’ll have an assigned seat(s).

Departing from Platform 13 and 14:

The moving walkways that connect the main concourse to the platform 13-14 lounge The moving walkways that connect the main concourse to the platform 13-14 lounge
The travellator leading upwards into the lounge area The travellator leading upwards into the lounge area
The colour coded departure screen in the platform 13-14 waiting area he colour coded departure screen in the platform 13-14 waiting area
When a departure is purple the instruction is to wait in this departure lounge When a departure is purple the instruction is to wait in this departure lounge

If you don’t want to rush, the key thing to be aware of if you know your train will be departing from this part of Manchester Piccadilly station, is that you need to allow a minimum of 3 – 5 minutes between exiting the main concourse and boarding your train.

A series of moving walkways on platforms (tracks) 10 and 11 link the concourse to a bridge at the opposite end of the station which spans the railway lines; there is also a less obvious lift (elevator) at the mid-point of platform 10, which leads up to this bridge.
This bridge across the station is the location of the ‘Platform 13 and 14 Lounge’, which houses a coffee/snack bar and toilets, seats are also available.

The idea is that you wait in this lounge for your train instead of waiting on the platform/track.
A  traffic light system is used on the main departure board housed within this lounge;

  • purple = wait in the lounge,
  • blue = 'prepare to go' because your train will be within the next 5-10mins (this tends to be used at only busy times)
  • green = go to the platform now, because this train will be next to depart.
    Platforms 13 and 14 have their own separate ‘traffic-light’ systems.

There are separate sets of stairs to the 'a' the 'b' end of the platforms, the trains from platform (track) 13 normally use the 'a' ends and the trains from platform 14 use the 'b' end, so the usual system is that travellers are directed to one staircase to access platform 13, while the other staircase (over to the right) is for platform 14.

However, only one lift/elevator leads down to the platform (track); 13 is one side and 14 is on the other; therefore queues can build up for this elevator, so if you want to use it, ignore the ‘traffic-light’ system and be waiting by the elevator around 10 mins before your train is due to leave.

So making the transfer between the main concourse and these distant platforms (tracks) can be step-free, but if you want to use the lifts (elevators), you should allow a minimum of 10 minutes between exiting the concourse and being on the platform.

To these platforms from the taxi drop off area:

The elevator in the tower on the right is a short-cut from the taxi rank The elevator in the tower on the right is a short-cut from the taxi rank

If you take a taxi to Piccadilly and if you know your train will be departing from platforms (tracks) 13 or 14, you can take a short-cut.
On the right hand side of the taxi drop off area, as you face the station, there is a lift (elevator) up to this part of the station – it’s at the opposite end of the taxi area to the main access points from there into the station

Waiting on the platforms:

Keep a close eye on the departure screens on platforms 13 and 14. Keep a close eye on the departure screens on platforms 13 and 14.
Looking from the middle of platform 14 towards the 'a' end Looking from the middle of platform 14 towards the 'a' end

These platforms 13 and 14 resemble a busy metro station, multiple trains per hour leave from each of them, so you need to pay close attention to the departure screens and the destinations which will be shown on the fronts and sides of most of the train, staff are also available.

The platforms are divided into 'a' and 'b' sections, though trains can't simultaneously use both sections of the the platform, so trains typically depart from platform 13a and 14b.
The idea is that by directing passengers to wait in these specific areas, the crowds of waiting passengers can be dispersed along the platform.

If you have a reserved seat, it will be in a specific coach on the train, but few of the trains that use this part of the station are more than 4 cars long, so the best option can be to wait in the middle of the 'a' or 'b' sections, and then look for the coach number info on the outsides of the train.
The platforms aren't zoned, so there is nothing to indicate where you should wait for easy boarding.
Though the departure screens show the sequence of coaches on each train, so you'll know whether the coach in which your seat(s) will be located is in the front, middle or rear of the train.

Platform 13 is where the trains to Manchester Airport and the East Midlands trains to Norwich via Sheffield*, Nottingham and Ely depart from.
*If you’re heading to Sheffield SMTJ recommends taking the TPE services instead, if the prices and departure times suit, as they depart from the main part of Piccadilly station

Platform 14 is used by these train services:

Train Operating Company

Destinations

East Midland Trains

Liverpool via Warrington

Northern

(1) Liverpool via Warrington
(2) Blackpool via Preston
(3) Windermere via Preston, Oxenholme and Kendal
(4) Barrow-in-Furness via Preston and Grange-over-Sands

Trans Pennine Express

(1) Edinburgh or Glasgow  via Preston, Oxenholme (Lake District), Penrith (North Lakes) and Carlisle
(2) Newcastle via Leeds and York and Durham
(3) Middlesbrough via Leeds and York

Transport For Wales

Llandudno via Chester and Rhyl

Arriving by train at Manchester Piccadilly

Under the Metrolink signs are the escalators down to the tram stops and taxi rank Under the Metrolink signs are the escalators down to the tram stops and taxi rank

When your train arrives at platforms (tracks) 1 - 12, you simply walk ahead towards the front of the train and on to the main concourse.

From the main concourse you can access the city centre exits from the station, the tram/metrolink station, the taxi rank and step-free access to platforms (tracks) 13 – 14.

The tram stops and taxi ranks are at a lower level to the main concourse, there are escalators and lifts (elevators) on the left hand side of the concourse; under the yellow cube Metrolink sign that is suspended from the roof.

The trains operated by Avanti West Coast and Cross Country always arrive at platforms (tracks) 3-10 in this part of the station.

...at platforms 13 and 14

The escalator at the 'a' ends of platforms 13-14, the train is at platform 14b The escalator at the 'a' ends of platforms 13-14, the train is at platform 14b

If your train arrives here you have to ascend up to a bridge to exit from this part of the station, it can be accessed by using the stairs at the 'b' ends of the platform, an escalator at the 'a' end and an elevator in the middle.
Though in order to spread the load, the trains arriving at platform 13 often use the 'a' ends, while those at platform 14 use the 'b' ends.

At the 'a' end of the platforms the exit up to the bridge is by escalator, so if your train arrives at platform 14b, you can walk along to the other end of the platform to use the escalator.
The exit at the 'b' ends of the platforms is a staircase.
There is also a lift (elevator) in the middle of the platform, which can be used when arriving at either platform 13 or 14.

Once you are on the bridge there is an elevator which provides a short-cut to the taxi rank, but the main exit route down to the main concourse and its exits, is by using the moving walkways.
These walkways can be accessed through the waiting room for the trains, you will see this room over to the left.

If you don’t want to use the walkways a lift (elevator) is also available, which will take you down on to platform (track) 10, which is on the same level as the main concourse.

Changing trains:

The bridge which spans the station connects all the platforms The bridge which spans the station connects all the platforms

A bridge spans the station which can be accessed from every platform (track), so you can use it to change trains, no matter which part of the station your onward train will be leaving from.
If your train has arrived at platforms (tracks) 1 – 9, the steps* leading up to this bridge will by the rear of the train
It can be a particularly useful shortcut if your onward train will be departing from platform (tracks) 13 and 14.

*Some of the platforms (tracks) in the main part of the station have escalator access to this bridge, but most don’t.
If you want or need step-free route when changing trains, you can use the main concourse to access all of the other platforms in the station.

To the City Centre (and Manchester Victoria)

Most of the key destinations in Manchester city centre are around a 15 min walk from Piccadilly station, but there are two great alternatives to heading off on foot, or by taxi:

by free shuttle bus:

The shuttle bus stops and info are just outside the main exit from the concourse he shuttle bus stops and info are just outside the main exit from the concourse

There are two free bus services which depart every 10-12mins during the day and every 15 mins after 18:30 from a stop on the station forecourt.

Route 1 makes stops at multiple locations including Chinatown and at Albert Square for the Central Library, the Opera House, the Albert Hall.

Route 2 makes stops at the Palace Theatre, Deansgate station, The Beekham Tower and by St Anne’s Square

The tram stop at Piccadilly station is at lower level, under the part of the station which the trains use, but it can be accessed by escalators and elevators (lifts).

If you’re heading to the city centre follow the signs saying ‘Altringham, Bury, Eccles and Media City’; these are destinations of the trams which head in this direction.

Yellow route trams heading to Bury call at Market Street and Victoria station; this tram link is the easiest means of making the transfer between Piccadilly and Victoria stations.

The blue, orange and purple routes; trams to Altringham, Eccles and Media City call at St Peter’s Square and Deansgate-Castlefield.

Buy tickets before boarding, a zone 1 journey costs £1.40.

The Media City UK stop, which is served by the Orange route at Monday-Saturday daytimes and by the Blue Route trams heading to Eccles at other times, provides easy access to The Lowry Museum/Theatre, The Imperial War Museum, Manchester and The Granada Studio Tours.

For the Etihad Stadium follow the signs for the trams heading to Ashton-under-Lyne and take these trams to the Etihad Campus stop.

For Old Trafford you can take a tram heading to Altringhan, Eccles or Media and make a connection at Cornbrook, into a red route route tran which now stops at Wharfside, which is a 5 min walk from the football stadium.

Which station in Manchester?

Piccadilly is the main station in Manchester, but Oxford Road and Victoria are also city centre stations that are used by some long distance trains to and from the city.

Some train services only depart from and arrive at one of these stations, but others use multiple stations in the city AND different services from each station can be heading to and from the same destinations.

So there’s no hiding the fact that this can be confusing and somewhat bizarre; but don’t let that stop you travelling to and from this fantastic city by train, three stations usually means more choice of travel options, which is never a bad thing.

Hence the summary below of which station is used by each of the main long distance train services to and from Manchester:

Destinations and routes from Manchester Piccadilly:

Train Operating Company:

Destinations:
Those marked with an * are only served by trains from Piccadilly station

Avanti West Coast

London* via Milton Keynes

CrossCountry

Birmingham*, Bournemouth*, Bristol*, Coventry*, Exeter*, Oxford*, Southampton* and south-west England*

Trans Pennine Express

(1) Hull* via Leeds
(2) Cleethorpes* via Sheffield
(3) Edinburgh or Glasgow via Preston, Oxenholme (Lake District), Penrith (North Lakes) and Carlisle
(4) Newcastle via Leeds and York and Durham
(5) Middlesbrough via Leeds and York

Northern

(1) Stopping trains to Sheffield
(2) Liverpool
3) Blackpool via Preston
(4) Windermere via Preston, Oxenholme and Kendal
(5) Barrow-in-Furness via Preston and Grange-over-Sands
(6) Chester

TFW

(1) Cardiff* via Shrewsbury*, Hereford* and Newport*
(2) Llandudno via Chester and Rhyl

East Midland Trains

1) Norwich via Sheffield, Nottingham, Peterborough and Ely
(2) Liverpool

Destinations and routes from Manchester Oxford Road:

These train services depart from and arrive at Oxford Road; though ALL of these train services also call at Piccadilly station and those marked with* also call at Victoria station.

Train Operating Company:

Destinations:
 

Trans Pennine Express

(1) Edinburgh or Glasgow  via Preston, Oxenholme (Lake District), Penrith (North Lakes) and Carlisle
(2) Newcastle* via Leeds and York and Durham
(3) Middlesbrough* via Leeds and York

Northern

(1) Liverpool
(2) Blackpool via Preston
(3) Windermere via Preston, Oxenholme and Kendal
(4) Barrow-in-Furness via Preston and Grange-over-Sands

TFW

Llandudno via Chester and Rhyl

East Midland Trains

(1) Norwich via Sheffield, Nottingham, Peterborough and Ely
(2) Liverpool

Those East Midlands Trains to Norwich via Sheffield call at Oxford Road before they call at Piccadilly, but all of these other services first call at Piccadilly.

Destinations and routes from Manchester Victoria:

These train services marked with* also call at Oxford Road and Piccadilly stations:

Train Operating Company:

Destinations:
 

Trans Pennine Express

(1) Scarborough via Leeds and York
(2) Newcastle* via Leeds and York and Durham (2 x trains per hour with 1 x train per hour having its journey extended to Edinburgh via Berwick)
(3) Middlesbrough via Leeds and York
(4) Liverpool

Northern

(1) Leeds via Hebden Bridge, Halifax and Bradford
(2) Clitheroe via Blackburn
(3) Chester

Still confused? Well here is an alternative guide:

Destination:

Which station in Manchester:

Birmingham

From Piccadilly by CrossCountry trains

Blackpool

From Piccadilly and Oxford Road and Deansgate by Northern trains

Bournemouth

From Piccadilly by CrossCountry trains

Bradford

From Victoria by Northern trains

Bristol

From Piccadilly by CrossCountry trains

Cardiff

From Piccadilly by TFW Rail

Carlisle

From Piccadilly and Oxford Road by Trans Pennine Express

Chester

1 x Northern train per hour from Piccadilly
1 x slower Northern train per hour from Victoria
1 x TFW Rail train per hour from Piccadilly and Oxford Road

Coventry

From Piccadilly by CrossCountry trains

Durham

1 x Trans Pennine Express train per hour from Piccadilly and Oxford Road
2 x Trans Pennine Express trains per hour from Victoria

Edinburgh

via Preston = From Piccadilly and Oxford Road by Trans Pennine Express

via Newcastle (a longer route) = From Victoria by Trans Pennine Express

 

Glasgow

From Piccadilly and Oxford Road by Trans Pennine Express

Hull

From Piccadilly by Trans Pennine Express

Lancaster

From Piccadilly and Oxford Road by Trans Pennine Express and Northern Trains

Leeds

4 x Trans Pennine Express trains per hour from Victoria
1 x Northern train per hour from Victoria
3 x Trans Pennine Express trains per hour from Piccadilly
2 x Trans Pennine Express trains per hour from Oxford Road

Liverpool

2 x  fast Trans Pennine Express trains per hour from Victoria
1 x semi-fast East Midland Train per hour from Piccadilly and Oxford Road
1 x semi-fast Northern train per hour from Piccadilly and Oxford Road

Llandudno

from Piccadilly and Oxford Road by TFW Rail

London

From Piccadilly by Avanti West Coast

Middlesbrough

From Piccadilly and Oxford Road and Victoria by Trans Pennine Express

Newcastle

1 x Trans Pennine Express train per hour from Piccadilly and Oxford Road
2 x Trans Pennine Express trains per hour from Victoria

Nottingham

From Oxford Road and Piccadilly by East Midlands Trains

Norwich

From Oxford Road and Piccadilly by East Midlands Trains

Oxford

From Piccadilly by CrossCountry trains

Oxenholme (Lake District)

From Piccadilly and Oxford Road by Trans Pennine Express and Northern Trains

Penrith (North Lakes)

From Piccadilly and Oxford Road by Trans Pennine Express

Sheffield

1 x East Midlands Train per hour from Oxford Road and Piccadilly
1 x Trans Pennine Express train per hour from Piccadilly
1 x slower Northern train per hour from Piccadilly

Southampton

From Piccadilly by CrossCountry trains

Windermere

From Piccadilly and Oxford Road by Northern Trains

York

4 x Trans Pennine Express trains per hour from Victoria
2 x Trans Pennine Express trains per hour from Piccadilly and Oxford Road

To and from Manchester Airport by train

Manchester Airport and the city centre are linked by up to 8 x trains per hour and the journey time is only 14 minutes.
Though there is no specific Airport train service, all of these trains travel via central Manchester while on route to and from other cities and towns.

From/to Piccadilly station:

All of these 8 x trains per hour connect Piccadilly station to Manchester Airport.

However, at Piccadilly all but one of these hourly trains to/from the airport use the part of the station, platform (track 13), which is some distance from the main concourse and therefore has comparatively awkward access.

If you have luggage etc and require step-free access to the trains, you should allow 8 minutes to make the transfer from the main concourse to platform 13.

Though if you take a taxi to Piccadilly, ask the driver to take you to the taxi drop-off point on Fairfield Street and don't head into the main part of the station, instead use the elevator on the right hand side of the taxi rank, which leads up to the part of the station that the trains to the airport depart from.

When heading FROM the airport by train, check the location of your final destination in the city centre, as Piccadilly may not be the most convenient station; don't assume that leaving a train here will be the best option.

From/to Oxford Road station:

Seven of those hourly trains to/from the airport also call at Oxford Road station and the transfer between the trains and the entrance/exit is much simpler at this station.

So it can be worth checking if Oxford Road station has easy access to your starting point or final destination in the city centre.
Though Oxford Road station has no tram stop or taxi rank, the nearest taxi stand is down on the main road by the Sainsburys supermarket.

From/to Deansgate station:

There are usually 2 x trains per hour between the airport and Deansgate station and at Deansgate you can transfer to trams heading for Media City UK and to trams which call at Exchange Square – this city centre stop isn’t served by trams to/from Piccadilly.

When heading to Deansgate from the airport you need to take the trains operated by Northern which will be heading to Blackpool or Liverpool.

From/to Victoria station:

There are now also 2 x trains per hour between the airport and Victoria station and taking these trains can be a good option if the start or end point of your journey is on the northern edge of the city centre.

When heading to Victoria from the airport you need to take the trains operated by Trans Pennine Express which will be heading to Middlesbrough or Newcastle.

Between Manchester Airport and other cities by direct trains:

Destination:

Train Operating Company:

Bolton (2 x trains per hour)

Northern

Blackpool (1 x train per hour)

Northern

Carlisle (1 x train per hour)

Trans Pennine Express

Chester (1 x train per hour)

TFW

Cleethorpes via Grimsby and Doncaster (1 x train per hour)

Trans Pennine Express

Crewe (1 x train per hour)

Northern

Durham (1 x train per hour)

Trans Pennine Express

Edinburgh (1 x train every other hour)

Trans Pennine Express

Glasgow (1 x train every other hour)

Trans Pennine Express

Huddersfield ( 2 x trains per hour)

Trans Pennine Express

Leeds ( 2 x trains per hour)

Trans Pennine Express

Liverpool ( 2 x trains per hour)

Northern

Llandudno via Rhyl (1 x train per hour)

TFW

Middlesbrough (1 x train per hour)

Trans Pennine Express

Newcastle (1 x train per hour)

Trans Pennine Express

Oxenholme Lake District (1 or 2 x trains per hour)

Trans Pennine Express and Northern

Penrith North Lakes (1 x train every other hour)

Trans Pennine Express

Preston ( 3 x trains per hour)

Trans Pennine Express and Northern

Sheffield (1 x train per hour)

Trans Pennine Express

York ( 2 x trains per hour)

Trans Pennine Express

Day Trips By Train From Manchester

Manchester sits on spiders web of railway routes, so the city is a great base for taking easy day trips by train to other fabulous cities, stunning countryside, the coast and multiple steam railways.

Journeys

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