Manchester’s three main railway stations were connected for the first time today by the Ordsall Chord bridge – the historic centrepiece of the Great North Rail Project.
Ordsall, the world’s first asymmetric rail bridge, will benefit customers across the north of England, including with speedy direct services to Manchester Airport from as far afield as Newcastle. The first scheduled services will be using the new link from December 2017.
Rail Minister, Paul Maynard MP, installed the final clip onto the Chord, marking completion of this significant Network Rail infrastructure scheme. Colleagues from Northern, Transpennine Express, Transport for Greater Manchester, as well as a representative from Rail North, were in attendance.
Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and Salford mayor Paul Dennett joined Mr Maynard walking across part of the Chord with Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne and London North Western route managing director Martin Frobisher.
They were joined by colleagues from train companies Northern and Transpennine Express. Representatives from Rail North, Transport for the North and Transport for Greater Manchester also attended alongside rail enthusiast and pop music producer Pete Waterman.
Councillor Liam Robinson, Chair of Rail North said:
“This is a major milestone that will improve rail connections for passengers as part of the Great North Rail Project. We look forward to building on this success through further infrastructure and franchise enhancements that will allow people to travel more easily by rail. It is investment like this and in other major programmes, such as Northern Powerhouse Rail, that will ensure the North gets the rail network that it needs and deserves.”
The Ordsall Chord is part of the multi-billion-pound Great North Rail Project, a team effort by the rail industry to transform train travel for people across the north.
It will help create new links to Manchester Airport from across the north. By connecting Manchester’s three main stations – Piccadilly, Victoria and Oxford Road – it will reduce congestion at Piccadilly station by 25%, allowing faster and more frequent trains to run.
Rail Minister, Paul Maynard said:
“The new Ordsall Chord is a major milestone for the Great North Rail Project and forms a key part of this government’s £13 billion investment in transport in the north.
“This construction of this new iconic bridge has supported 2,000 jobs, including new apprentices and graduates and will provide new and direct links to Manchester Airport from across the region.
“By 2020, the Great North Rail Project will deliver faster and more comfortable journeys, with new trains, extra carriages and more than 2,000 extra services a week.”
Heritage has played a key role in the project. The 1830 Stephenson Bridge has been brought back to life and revealed to the public for the first time in over 150 years, a new steel footbridge will be opened to the public and historic railway arches have been cleaned to stand side-by-side with the modern bridge.