As part of our plan to improve rail travel in the north of England, we’re building a viaduct to link Manchester’s Victoria, Oxford Road and Piccadilly stations
Since October 2015, work has been taking place on the Ordsall Chord. This will be 300 metres of new track that will create a link between Manchester city centre’s main train stations for the first time.
This new section will be to the north west of Castlefield Junction, linking the line with the Deal Street Junction line, connecting Manchester Victoria, Oxford Road and Piccadilly stations. However, for this vital piece of track to be fitted, a huge amount of work needs to take place beforehand. This includes realigning existing track, building new bridges, removing disused arches and restoring Grade I listed structures.
Once the work is completed in December 2017, the chord will help provide many benefits not only to passengers but also to the wider economy.
- There will be new direct links to Manchester Airport from across the north of England.
- Congestion currently seen at Manchester Piccadilly will reduce by a quarter with some services being rerouted through Manchester Victoria.
- There will be more capacity on the railway, meaning more frequent trains to run.
- Three main Manchester stations will be linked, meaning improved connectivity for those travelling through the city and beyond.
- The local and wider economy will be boosted, helping create more jobs.
- There will be links near to new business and residential developments.
- The project will support the delivery of Network Rail’s £1bn+ Railway Upgrade Plan for the north, meaning faster and more frequent trains.
Paul Maynard MP visits Ordsall Chord project
Did you know?
- From the beginning until the end of the project, 28,500 tonnes of ballast will have been spread on track. That's the equivalent weight of just over 142 of the north east landmark Angel of the North.
- The amount of concrete we will use would be able to fill just under six of the Olympic-sized swimming pool at Liverpool Aquatics Centre.
- Over 4,000 tonnes of steel will have been constructed and welded. That's around the same weight as seven and a half Airbus A380s, the world's largest passenger plane to land at Manchester Airport.
Christmas work 2016
Between Sunday 18 December 2016 and Tuesday 3 January 2017, we reconfigured the railway infrastructure between Eccles and Deansgate to facilitate the connection of the new 300m section of railway to the new layout.
A new signalling system was commissioned during this time – one of the most complicated signalling jobs of the last 40 years in the North West – and a Grade II listed bridge on Water Street was replaced with a new structure, alongside a bridge carrying the first section of the chord.
Easter 2017, bank holidays and weekends
Over the Easter period, hundreds of men and women worked around the clock to build the Ordsall Chord. Some of the highlights included engineers removing a section of Chapel Street bridge, sandwiched between two adjacent bridge. This was then replaced with a new steel structure weighing 260 tonnes and required 3500 bolts to put together.
Work will continue throughout the week and weekends as the project reaches its final stages.
To complete the work safely, some train services will be affected throughout the year coming in and out of Manchester Victoria – for up-to-date travel information, check National Rail before you travel.
Project milestones at a glance
Princes bridge has been taken down and replaced by the new footbridge crossing the River Irwell. It will open to the public later this year.
Stephenson’s bridge has been painstakingly cleaned underneath. The process took two weeks and the bridge was cleaned by hand. Other work is ongoing.
The Trinity Way bridge has been lifted into place.
Two huge cranes – one the largest in Britain – lifted two conjoining 600 tonne arches onto the Network Arch bridge, creating a stunning addition to the Greater Manchester skyline.
Picture (above): Matthew Nicholls Photography
The ongoing work is understandably creating a huge interest in the project and we have had a number of visitors on site to see how the scheme is progressing.
Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling and Rail Minister Paul Maynard (inset left) visited recently and were impressed with the work.
Representatives of train operating companies such as Northern and Transpennine Express have given their full backing to the project, recognising the benefits the chord will deliver to their customers.
Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese, interim mayor for Manchester Tony Lloyd and Salford mayor Paul Dennett have also visited and commented on the scale and complexities of the programme, while understanding how it will help improve rail travel.
A descendant of George Stephenson – the man who built the first public intercity railway line in Manchester – spoke to members of the project team and gave his blessing. Architect Roger Stephenson said his relative would approve of the work.
The Railway Heritage Trust gave us their blessing after they heard about the work to restore Stephenson's Bridge, built in 1830. The structure had been covered for over 150 years by a girder extension that was in a state of disrepair.
Pop guru and rail enthusiast Pete Waterman (inset right, centre) has expressed his delight at the project's determination to improve rail transport now and for generations to come.
BBC Two series Great British Rail Journeys filmed on site with presenter Michael Portillo (inset below) talking to our programme manager Allan Parker. Michael was excited about the plans and said the Network Arch Bridge was destined to become a Manchester landmark.
Stay in touch
You can email the project team with any further queries at Ordsallchord@networkrail.co.uk.
We will update this page with further information as it becomes available.