Rail Industry Focus

16.03.16

Ordsall Chord delivery needs certainty as work starts to progress

Source: RTM Feb/Mar 16

Martyn Angus, LNW route senior programme sponsor at Network Rail, talks to RTM about how work is progressing on the Ordsall Chord.

Delivering the much-delayed £85m Ordsall Chord by December 2017 is achievable but certainty over the project is essential, RTM has been told. 

As we went to press, Manchester Victoria and Salford Central stations were due to be closed for 11 days between 24 March and 4 April while engineers prepared station tracks and strengthened railway arches as part of the project’s works. 

The controversial Chord is a new section of track intended to link Manchester’s three main rail stations for the first time. It will be built north-west of Castlefield Junction, linking that line with the Deal Street Junction line. 

However, the line will also intersect the world’s first ever intercity railway line, built by George Stephenson in 1830, and see a number of other Grade-II listed buildings and bridges demolished. 

Martyn Angus, LNW route senior programme sponsor at Network Rail, who had previously worked on the East West Rail project, said the preparatory works ahead of the “significant” Easter blockade had gone well. 

“We have a lot of remodelling work at the throat of Manchester Victoria, which will eventually accommodate the new Chord,” said Angus. “There is also a lot of strengthening work to be done to the actual structures to enable works to take place at a later date. 

“In terms of numbers, we have about 450m of plain line track that we’ll need to put in. We’ve got five point ends that we need to install. We’ve got over 2,500 tonnes of spoil to be removed and 3,800 tonnes of new ballast to put in.” 

While admitting this was a lot of work to undertake, Angus said the multi-disciplinary Alliance team had gone through the programme thoroughly to ensure its smooth delivery. The track work at Easter is being delivered by Amey Sersa, and more than 100 workers will be on site. 

“At the end of that work we have got a lot of tamping to do to have the track ready for us to start running services again on 4 April,” added Angus. 

Court of Appeal 

However, certainty around the project is still unclear. In October 2015, a judge dismissed the legal challenge by Mark Whitby, a former president of the Institution of Civil Engineers, who said his alternative scheme, known as Option 15, could deliver the same performance improvements for passengers as the Chord without the same impact on the heritage of the structures in the area. 

Whitby accepted that Option 15 was more expensive than Network Rail’s proposal. But in January, he was given leave to appeal against the construction of the rail link. 

RTM also learned that the appeal hearing had been brought forward from mid-April to 21-22 March – ahead of the Easter works. 

Asked about the appeal and the implications it could have on the project, Angus said that Network Rail has a programme of works that get the team to the new December 2017 completion date.

“The issues with the Transport Works Act Order (TWAO) are still ongoing, and we are aware of them,” said Angus. “But as things currently stand, we are carrying on with the works and using the powers that we’ve been granted under the TWAO. We have a programme that we can deliver at the moment. 

“Obviously, that could change depending on what happens at the court hearing. The Court of Appeal hearing has been brought forward to the 21-22 March. It was originally meant to be in April, but we made a request to bring it forward. The earlier we can have it, and have more certainty, the better.” 

Angus stated that the good news is that Ordsall Chord, which will improve capacity and enable faster, more frequent services between towns and cities across the north, as well as the creation of new direct routes to Manchester Airport, is “currently on programme”. 

Following the Easter works, there are plans to have a 15-day blockade in place over Christmas between Ordsall Junction and Castlefield Junction for major track works, S&C installation to accommodate the Chord, and the removal and replacement of the bridge at Water Street. 

While Angus admits this work is going to cause “quite a lot of disruption” over the next 12-18 months, he says Network Rail is working closely with TOCs to reduce the impact it will have on passengers.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Comments

Andrew G   28/03/2016 at 22:00

Work has already started on the Ordsall Chord.

Add your comment

 

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