Councillors and business leaders from across Manchester and Salford last night viewed Network Rail’s plans for improved rail travel in the North. At an event in the Museum of Science and Industry, the new Ordsall Chord, a scheme to connect Manchester’s Piccadilly, Oxford Road and Victoria stations, was unveiled to stakeholders ahead of this week’s public consultation.
The first part of the Northern Hub programme will help ease a rail bottleneck to the south of Piccadilly station and enable more trains to travel through Manchester Victoria. This will help free up space on the network to deliver faster, more frequent services, including:
- Two new fast trains per hour between Manchester Victoria and Liverpool
- Six fast trains, instead of four, an hour between Leeds and Manchester
- Faster journeys between Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool
- A new direct service through Manchester city centre to Manchester Airport
- Faster journey times to Hull, Newcastle and the North East
Network Rail has appointed a team of experts to progress the design of the Ordsall Chord. Two potential bridge options have been unveiled for consultation, including a bow string railway arch and an alternative flat bridge. The feedback from the public will be passed onto to the design panel and used to inform the plans.
Dyan Crowther, Network Rail’s route managing director, said: “Britain relies on rail and with demand for rail travel increasing it’s essential we invest in the railway to provide a better service for passengers with more trains, additional seats and fewer delays.
“We thank those who have already made a valuable contribution to the development of this vital project. Feedback from last year’s consultation suggests that the overwhelming majority of people support our plans to deliver faster, more frequent services across the North and helping stimulate low carbon economic growth.”
The plans were first released for consultation last year and feedback showed around 84% of respondents felt is was important to connect Manchester’s key railway stations. Network Rail has now developed more detailed plans and is asking for feedback before submitting an application to the Planning Inspectorate next summer.
The plans are available to view on www.networkrail.co.uk/ordsall. If the scheme is approved, work will start in late 2014 and is expected to be completed in late 2016.