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Ordsall Chord being challenged in High Court

The much-delayed Ordsall Chord may be delayed yet again as RTM can confirm another legal challenge has been launched against the scheme.

Permission was finally granted for the project at the end of March when the transport secretary issued a Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) following a public inquiry.

Permission was originally expected to be granted in 2014, with construction to begin at the end of last year or the start of 2015, but the planning process and many objections filed throughout it delayed the timescale.

The source of the fresh objection to the scheme is not yet known but RTM understands it is one of the main parties involved in the initial inquiry. Historic England (which has taken on functions from English Heritage) was one of the main objectors to the scheme during the planning phase but has confirmed it is not involved in the current challenge.

A DfT spokesperson told us: “A legal challenge has been filed with the High Court over the Ordsall Chord order and its associated listed building and planning consents. The government intends to contest the challenge, however as legal proceedings are ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

657 Ordsall-Chord-map Large

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

This would allow more trains to travel through central Manchester by unclogging the bottleneck at the throat of Piccadilly, creating capacity for two new fast services an hour between Manchester Victoria and Liverpool, six an hour Leeds-Manchester (up from four), overall journey time improvements between the three cities, a new direct service to Manchester Airport, and also improved journey times to other locations in the north.

Other initial objectors to the scheme included the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), which was against it due to the proposed route bisecting the route of the original Manchester – Liverpool railway.

However it is unlikely that MOSI has launched the legal challenge as its objections were overcome through “some targeted industry investment, creating a much better facility for that museum”, according to Rob Warnes, planning and programmes director at Northern Rail.

The planning inspector's report recommending the scheme should go forward says: "It is relevant that both MOSI and the Friends of MOSI have withdrawn their objection. There is no issue that the Order would have some disbenefits for MOSI, but the Museum has clearly taken a view on the wider public interest and the mitigation that could be achieved for them."

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “Network Rail is aware that a challenge has been made to the Ordsall Chord TWA Order, the deemed planning permission and the listed building consents.

“Network Rail remains committed to delivering the benefits of the Northern Hub which will provide space for hundreds more trains each day and room for millions more passengers. The Ordsall Chord will play a key part in enabling faster, more frequent trains and more direct services to Manchester Airport. 

“Network Rail is an interested party in this legal action, and is not in a position to pre-judge the outcome of any decision of the court.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Mike   28/05/2015 at 15:37

This is really bad news. Why can't the party's involved accept the inspectors recommendation?. I find these people really arrogant. Why will they not accept the wider benefits of this scheme.

Pedr   29/05/2015 at 14:10

What is the problem? Presumably the Ordsall Chord cuts across the entry to the MOSI site on the level? But flat crossings of one railway by another are possible and the signalling costs are modest. There is at least one other recent installation of this type.

Chris B   29/05/2015 at 18:49

Immediately upon reading this article and on studying the map I wondered "why not install a flat crossing across the site and then the museum site could remain rail connected!" I then saw Pedr's wise comment to like affect. Surely others can also see the sense in this compromise?

Sam K   11/03/2016 at 13:32

It came out in the public inquiry that unfortunately a flat crossing is not possible because the chord is about 500mm above the mosi line and more fundamentally the superelevation/cant on the curve makes the levels and gradients for the mosi line too hard to make work. Also a lift bridge (as suggested at the inquiry and elsewhere) would be too expensive & actually difficult to use to justify it etc. Option 15 or a version thereof is the best solution and could be done within the cost variables of the current NR scheme. It's just sad that NR chose to resurrect an old plan from 1980 and try to justify it rather than do a proper job.

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