The Ordsall Chord is a new railway that will allow TransPennine and Northern trains via Victoria station to swing round the west of the city to Oxford Rd and Piccadilly stations. It will open a route for Calder Valley trains to Manchester Airport and other southward destinations. Transport and Works Act approval for the chord was given by the Secretary of State for Transport in Spring following an inquiry. But this was challenged in the Royal Courts of Justice in September by former president of the Institute of Civil Engineers, Mark Whitby. Mr Whitby argued the decision-making process was flawed and the benefits of preventing harm to heritage assets were not given due consideration. Network Rail’s new line slices through two historic bridges where it intersects the route of the “world’s first inter-city railway”, the Liverpool & Manchester, causing physical and contextual damage to heritage structures. Mr Whitby’s claimed an alternative “Option 15” would be better. But Option 15 was certain to cost more. It would have meant diverting the existing Liverpool-Manchester Victoria line to cut through a massive economic development site, Middlewood Locks in Salford, where work on a first phase including hundreds of new homes could start early next year. Clearly Mr Whitby’s option would affect this! The Ordsall Chord inquiry inspector had acknowledged damage to heritage, but recommended approval for the Network Rail scheme. On October 14th Mrs Justice Lang dismissed Mark Whitby’s challenge, saying the inspector had given “considerable weight and importance” to heritage issues. She found no error in law, and gave no permission to appeal; so this looks like a green light, not a yellow.
If you value both transport heritage and transport development this has been a messy, uncomfortable process. But the Ordsall Chord should now be ready by the end of 2017.
Header image attribution: flickr photo by Thomas’s Pics https://flickr.com/photos/60900612@N08/8606560311 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license