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NR: Ordsall Chord shows what can be achieved with the right mechanisms in place

The Ordsall Chord – which opened yesterday and connects Manchester three main railway stations for the first time – took nearly nine years to complete from its conception.

The project was marred from the beginning by a number of issues, including complaints that it would ruin the historic section of track which leads out of Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry.

This section was seen as important as it is one of the last major reminders of the museum building’s past life as Liverpool Road station, the world’s first inter-city terminus and thought to be the world’s oldest surviving railway station.

Network Rail’s major programme director, Chris Montgomery, told RTM he felt the Ordsall Chord project had added to the history of the area because, although some sections of the grade I listed structure were removed, much of the area is now much more open and can be seen from the new track.

Ordsall Chord landscape

Construction of the track and infrastructure work on the bridge only took two and a half of the overall nine years of the project. Much of the rest of the time was spent on planning and development, procurement and dealing with legal challenges over the historic elements of the project.

The site also includes the historic Stephenson Bridge, built in 1830 by George Stephenson referred to by many as the father of railways. The bridge – the world’s first passenger rail bridge – is now visible to the public as well, following the demolition of its neighbouring steel bridge, which was built in 1860.

Montgomery spoke of the difficulties of the project but praised the team involved for their attention to the historical aspects of the areas.

He continued: “I am really proud of the team and what they have achieved on this project. It is probably the best example I have seen of alliancing working.

“It shows what NR and our partners can do when we are given enough time to set up a job properly and put in place the right mechanisms to incentivise everyone to work collaboratively towards an end solution.”

The £80m Ordsall Chord project is expected to receive its first services in December following timetable changes from Northern and TPE.

Ordsall Chord Back

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said: “Greater Manchester has long called for the Ordsall Chord to unlock capacity on the rail network across the north and it is great that we can finally celebrate its completion.

“This is an impressive engineering project and I would like to thank everyone who has worked on it and contributed to the on-going regeneration of our city-region. The iconic network arch bridge will create a new landmark on the Manchester skyline.

“It harks back to the glory days of rail investment and stands just yards from the site of the world’s first-ever railway station. Just as Manchester pioneered rail travel in the 19th century, I hope we can lead the development of the next generation of infrastructure in the 21st.”

The new development is part of NR’s Great North Rail Project and will change the way services from as far away as Newcastle are able to travel through to Manchester Airport.

A direct link now exists through the west of the city travelling from Victoria through the Deansgate and Oxford Road stations and into the larger Manchester Piccadilly.

Councillor Andrew Fender, chair of the TfGM Committee commented: “The Ordsall Chord is a vital part of the Northern Hub programme of works that will unlock the major bottlenecks in central Manchester.

“Together these will deliver the capacity and connectivity improvements that are urgently needed to enable rail services across the North of England to better meet growing demands for travel.”

Montgomery – along with a number of other stakeholders in the Ordsall Chord project – discussed the plans earlier this year at the TransCityRail conference, which is set to be held in October next year.

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Andrew Gwilt   10/11/2017 at 10:32

Well that’s a great achievement from Network Rail. Well done to the workers in orange kits that have made this happen and to build a brand new link that will connect Manchester’s major stations-Oxford Rd, Deansgate, Piccadilly and Victoria. Congratulations Network Rail.

Andrew JG   10/11/2017 at 10:40

New trains will soon be using this new link between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria. In the meantime DMU stocks, EMU stocks (including Class 319’s) and possibly freights will be using this new link as its opened.

Huguenot   10/11/2017 at 11:10

Yes, I echo praise for the achievement. It would have been opened some time ago if it hadn't been for the legal challenges. Pity the same praise cannot be directed at some other projects I could mention! Is it true that initially the link will be used by only an hourly diesel service each way (apart, perhaps, for some empty stock movements)?

Jimbo   10/11/2017 at 14:09

So it is okay to destroy our railway heritage as long as you can see what is left a bit better? The project is sorely needed and was well executed, but it is a shame they couldn't do more to keep the heritage. I realise they probably couldn't and in this case, what they did was probably as good as they could have done, but stop trying to spin the loss as a good thing - that is just in bad taste.

Peter Jarvis   11/11/2017 at 18:19

I have not seen any rustproof paint that colour. Please, what anti-corrosion paint do they use? We had to replace five bridges because of rust....

Norm   11/11/2017 at 18:23

Manchester pioneered rail travel in the 19th Century?

Jb   12/11/2017 at 02:11

The bridge is made from weathering steel which is left bare. It doesn't need painting and corrodes very slowly forming a rust-coloured patina.

Lutz   12/11/2017 at 06:32

This was proposed back in the 1970s as a metro link as an alternative to the PicVic. Next problem: the potential for future capacity constraints due lack of grade separation.

Anonymous   12/11/2017 at 20:00

One thing I don't like about is the overhead gantries that are supporting the overhead wires. There could of been alternative method to install better gantries to looks more nicer.

Ryan   13/11/2017 at 10:14

Go on then Andrew. Clearly you're more qualified than those civil engineers, what do you suggest?

John Webster   13/11/2017 at 14:32

I like the bit about "unlocking the major bottlenecks in central Manchester" . When trains are diverted via Vic for Picc they will create a new bottleneck between Deansgate and Piccadilly unless they get the go-ahead for quadrupling.

Andrew Gwilt   14/11/2017 at 11:45

Sorry Ryan??

Boris   14/11/2017 at 22:28

“There could of been alternative method to install better gantries to looks more nicer.” Please, explain.

Mark Hare   16/11/2017 at 14:15

I hear there is a proposal in place to decorate those nasty ugly gantries with tinsel and sparkly fairy lights over the Christmas period in order to make them 'looks much more nicer.'

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