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‘All in it together’ pure alliance nudges Ordsall Chord to final phase

The alliance taking forward the Ordsall Chord under a multidisciplinary partnership approach has been celebrated as the chief reason behind the scheme’s punctual progress towards the last stages of work before its December debut.

Speaking exclusively to RTM, Mike Heywood, project director for the Northern Hub Alliance and the man effectively in charge of the Chord, revealed the project remains firmly on track for December operations, with every major blockade and weekend possession running smoothly and promptly so far.

Echoing similar comments from other heavyweights in the industry, Heywood touted the innovative pure alliance model chosen for the scheme as one of the major drivers of this success. If the Chord had been taken forward in a more traditional contractual environment, he said, that would have made its multidisciplinary requirements “quite difficult”.

The Chord, which will serve to connect Manchester’s three main city centre stations for the first time, is being captained by a unique partnership between Skanska, BAM Nuttall, Amey and Siemens, all of whom contribute essential expertise to the scheme’s many interfaces.

Within this pure alliance contract model, we’re all in it together; once you’ve effectively established the target cost, you’re all in it together,” explained Heywood. “All the efforts are spent on finding solutions and getting on with it, as opposed to pointing fingers at each other when things happen – because things do happen in complex jobs. It’s about everyone being aligned and focused on planning the right solutions.

“That, and the fact that we involved the right people and the right experts at an early stage in the whole construction plan, means we all developed it in that collaborative environment. If you get the right time to develop the scheme properly – which we did, we had time to develop it in a sensible timescale and plan it – it’s a lot easier to follow through and make it happen.”

The project director’s remarks strongly resonate with the view of David Brown, Transport for the North CEO and incoming MD for Northern Rail, who told us earlier this year that the Chord is a classic example of what Network Rail and its partners can achieve when they’re given enough support, time and money.

In fact, the alliance model has been so imperative to early-stage planning and co-ordinated working that it will be replicated in the TransPennine route upgrade. Many of the same companies – including Amey, BAM Nuttall and Siemens – will be responsible for the major project, whose exact price tag still remains to be determined by the DfT.

After two major blockades during Christmas and Easter, the Ordsall Chord scheme has been progressing smoothly over 27- and 54-hour possessions. In July, for example, the team put the final sets of S&C at the Water Street and Castlefield Corridor work side and completed effectively all track works, except for the stretch that goes over the new Chord structure.

Earlier this week, they also finished installing the 40-tonne steel cascade that connects to the network arch – the last piece in the jigsaw of the viaduct bridge – in what BDP transport architect director Peter Jenkins called a “continual, flowing ribbon which incorporates individual structures into a single overarching identity”.

“This latest piece of steelwork connects the River Irwell and Trinity Way bridges with a twisting, sinuous form which smoothly brings the concept of the structure to fruition,” Jenkins said. “The development has been a true team effort from the original sketch through to construction, integrating different people and different tools to achieve the vision.”

Between now and September, the alliance will finish the work on the structures that make up the Chord and will install the track, ballast and OLE in preparation for the final commissioning on 1 October, which marks the scheme’s last stage.

In the period between 1 October and 10 December, Network Rail will be completing ‘Entry Into Service’ (EIS) paperwork as well as finishing off street-level landscaping work on the heritage assets affected by the project, explained Heywood.

“There’s quite a lot of work we’re doing to some of the Grade I and Grade II listed structures, such as the Stephenson’s Bridge. We’re still in the process of reinstating that to its former glory,” he said. “There’s a lot of work still ongoing through to January time in terms of landscaping and making sure that the area is left in a better state than when we started.”

RTM will feature the full interview with Heywood in the upcoming August/September edition. Subscribe to receive a free copy of the magazine by clicking here.


Lutz   18/08/2017 at 14:05

A possible model for the break-out of major projects from Network Rail.

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