Ordsall Chord – Manchester’s new vital link
Linking Manchester’s Piccadilly and Victoria stations for the first time and offering major benefits including reduced journey times, more train services and improved regeneration, the £85m Ordsall Chord is a new railway line with numerous associated structures under construction in the Ordsall area of Greater Manchester.
The rail network in Manchester had become insufficient to support demand. One problem was the lack of a link between the main stations at Piccadilly and Victoria, causing many trains to terminate at Victoria, taking up excessive platform space.
Ordsall Chord is a major component of Network Rail’s £600m Northern Hub programme, which will allow the operation of 700 more trains a day in northern England.
Once completed, Ordsall Chord will help reduce congestion at Piccadilly by rerouting services through Manchester Victoria station. This will increase capacity, meaning more trains will be able to run.
The project, designed by BDP Architects, is being carried out by a joint venture between Skanska and Bam Nuttall. The engineering work is being undertaken by a joint venture between AECOM and Mott McDonald.
The scheme includes the construction of a new section of track to the north west of Castlefield Junction. This will link the Castlefield Junction line with the Deal Street Junction line, connecting Manchester’s main stations.
At the heart of the project is the construction of the world’s first ‘squashed tennis racket style’ railway bridge, linking Piccadilly and Victoria stations. This bridge will be the UK’s first ‘network arch’ – a low curve with a ‘tennis racket’ style lattice.
The bridge is currently being constructed by steel firm Severfield in Bolton, then lifted by crane over the River Irwell.
Other elements of the scheme include works to restore and enhance historically significant structures, as well as a number of refurbished, altered and brand new railway viaduct structures. New structures are being built to accommodate 350m of new track, and a further 345m of existing viaducts (including Castlefield) are being widened.
In total, 3.2km of existing railway track, almost entirely supported on viaduct, is being altered.
Peter Jenkins, director of BDP said: “The scheme will ease train congestion at Piccadilly station and greatly improve rail connectivity resulting in faster, easier journeys for passengers. In addition there are many areas around the Ordsall Chord that are awaiting regeneration and the new link is very important in connecting these.
“The project affects a large number of historic railway structures as well as adjacent areas at ground level such as roads, and includes lots of track work, electrification and rail re-alignment, as well as the construction of new structures such as road and foot bridges across the river – which improves travel for motorists and pedestrians, as well as rail users.”
Being able to transport more people and improve links across the north brings wider benefits, helping create thousands of jobs. The regional economy could benefit by an estimated £4billion with more trains running through stations and improved freight paths.
Ordsall Chord will also improve rail access to Manchester Airport, which at present cannot be reached easily from Victoria.
Network Rail route delivery director Nick Spall said: “The creation of the Ordsall Chord will bring many benefits to the city and the north of England. Not only will it link the major stations within Manchester but will help support delivery of faster trains linking Manchester Victoria and Liverpool, as well as improving journey times to Liverpool, Leeds and the north-east.”
Peter Jenkins said: “This is a fascinating project to work on – both from a historical context and from a regeneration point of view – and it’s not often that you get this type of opportunity. The works are currently making good progress.”
The Ordsall Chord is due to be open by December 2017.