Ordsall Chord – Manchester’s 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.
Bolton-based steel firm, Severfield is responsible for the bridge construction.
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.”
Synergy Rail has been responsible for delivering technical and safety assurance on the Ordsall Chord project. This suite of services ensured compliance with the interoperability requirements was met, along with meeting the requirements of Common Safety Method for Risk Assessment, in order to obtain authorisation from the ORR to place the new infrastructure into service.
Services included the development of suitable plans and processes; the definition and development of the system definition; conducting hazard identification exercises at suitable stages in the design; conducting specific risk assessments for OLE, signalling, structures and track; and the development and management of the system hazard record. Synergy Rail were also responsible for the management of the interface with the CDM workstream; the definition and validation of safety requirements; the interface with the Assessment Bodies (NoBo, DeBo, AsBo); presentation to SRP for endorsement of commissioning stages; and the interface with ORR for authorisation.
Xenophon Christodoulou, Synergy Rail Ltd, said:
“The Ordsall Chord Project is 300 metres of new track that will create a link between Manchester city centre’s main train stations for the first time. It will provide a direct link between Piccadilly and Victoria stations, allowing trains from Manchester Victoria and the east to continue to Piccadilly. The enabling works for this new infrastructure include realigning existing track and overhead electrification, building new bridges, removing disused arches and restoring Grade I listed structures.”
“We worked closely with the project team and Network Rail to ensure assurance processes were fully integrated with the design.”
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.”
Although the Ordsall Chord still has a way to go before it is ready to open – December 2017 to be exact – the project is already catching the eye of many in the industry. As such, the Ordsall Chord project has been shortlisted for two awards at this years’ RICS (North West) Awards 2017: ‘Best Design Through Innovation’ and ‘Best Infrastructure’.
The project faces stiff competition in each respective category, but reaching the shortlist is already a great achievement.