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Ordsall Chord works force Manchester Victoria closures

Manchester Victoria will be closed to passengers every Sunday for 12 weeks as Network Rail starts building the much-delayed Ordsall Chord, a new section of track intended to link the city’s three main rail stations for the first time.

After permission had finally been granted in 2014, the project was delayed even further when the former president of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Mark Whitby, made another legal challenge against the scheme in May last year.

A judge deferred this challenge in September, despite mounting pressure that she must make her decision as soon as possible or risk cancelling the project. Whitby’s legal challenge was dismissed in October and, despite whispers that he would continue in his legal action, nothing was confirmed.

To kick-start the scheme, Sunday closures of one of the city’s key stations will start on 24 January and run until 17 April, with trains diverted to other stations in the meantime. Network Rail says it has “worked very closely with train operators” to arrange these alternatives.

Northern Rail’s planning and programmes director, Rob Warnes, said: “As investment in the railway across the north continues, more exciting developments for our customers start to take shape.

“Linking Manchester’s two main stations together will change the shape of the city forever and vastly improve rail services into and out of one of the north’s major conurbations.”

First TransPennine Express’ operations director, Paul Watson, said this will affect a small number of the TOC’s services, to be diverted to Manchester Piccadilly. Most Northern services will be diverted, but the operator will provide bus replacement services running from Stalybridge, Rochdale and Salford Crescent into Manchester Victoria.

Other ongoing works have also hit new milestones across the city, with further works on the next phase of electrification between Manchester and Stalybridge expected from February.

While several road bridges were rebuilt on this route to open up enough space to house overhead wires eventually set to run underneath them, the next stage will focus primarily on upgrades needed to the railway, including track and drainage renewals.

Nick Spall, route delivery director for Network Rail, said: “This is an exciting time for the railway in the north of England as Network Rail continues to deliver more than £1bn of investment to provide passengers with a better, faster and more reliable railway.

“We are working closely with the train operators to keep as many services running as possible so people can continue to travel in and out of Manchester on Sundays with the least amount of disruption.”

According to Network Rail, work is also continuing to electrify the lines between Manchester, Preston and Blackpool.


Mike Newell   14/01/2016 at 00:35

There are rumours that Mark Whitby has been granted leave to appeal against the Judicial Review decision. Which gave the go ahead for the Chord.

Bernie Lamb   18/01/2016 at 22:30

That's correct it was granted on the 11/1/16 and the judge added in his reasons that "The grounds of appeal (in both linked appeals) raise important points and have real prospects of success"

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