It’s been a long time in the making. In fact there’s been talk about this very short stretch of railway since the late 1970s. For only 300m of new track it’s a major project, costing in the region of £85m, which has been surrounded in controversy. The main concern of this project surrounds the impact on the local area, in particular the Grade 1 listed 1830 railway bridge over the River Irwell. The main reason for the project is to link Manchester Victoria and Piccadilly which will not only enable new direct links to Manchester Airport from across the North of England, improved connectivity across the city and reducing existing congestion at Manchester Piccadilly. The project is being carried out on behalf of Network Rail by Skanska and Bam Nuttall, assisted by AmeySersa and Siemens.
It really is a mammoth project utilising the latest technology and will involve re-aligning existing track, building a new footbridge, a new rail bridge across a river and road, removing disused arches, removal of an old bridge and restoring an existing Grade 1 listed bridge.
The removal of Prince’s Bridge isn’t of any great loss to the area. It’s been closed to traffic for many years, only being used for pedestrians and cyclists and there’s a new footbridge going in to replace it. The removal of this bridge will firmly place on display the Grade 1 listed Stephenson stone railway bridge. He was responsible for the engineering the Liverpool and Manchester railway.
New support structures have to be built to carry the full weight of the new rail bridge and you can see one such structure is being constructed below.
You can see the yellow box just slightly up and left of the centre of the picture. This is a cofferdam, a temporary enclosure used to create a dry work environment so that construction can take place. You can see from the photo below just how big it is.
In August you can see a mammoth crane arrives on site, the cofferdam has enabled a concrete structure to emerge from the ground, preparation work continues for the new footbridge and several of the curved structures can be seen on site.
On the other side of Trinity Way, work continues on new supports, which will carry the new bridge and enable it to join the existing track. The other side of the tracks you can see the site of Middlewood Locks, an exciting new waterside development set in 24 acres of land. 2000 new homes, 750 000 sq ft of commercial development space, including offices, hotel, shops restaurants, a convenience store and gym will be built on the site which has been disused for over 20 years.
Also in August, something exciting can be seen on site – the new footbridge has been assembled on-site, ready to be lifted into place.
The great thing about the Ordsall Chord project is the amazing empty land surrounding it, which must be a dream for all involved in the project. Further up Trinity Way some of the steels have been manufactured on site.
In September there’s a new crossing over the River Irwell.
Meanwhile on Water Street, the existing bridge is being widened with new arches being constructed to lay the new track on.
It’s about time for a new perspective on the Ordsall Chord, from a different viewpoint.
And incase you’re struggling to picture the route of the new rail bridge. Allow us!
Into December we go and it’s incredible just how fast this project is steaming ahead.
You can see in this photo the rail bridge across the Irwell is starting to be assembled. On the left of the photo you can see the giant curved arches that will form the arch shape.
On the other side of the existing rail tracks you can see how the existing track is being widened and part of the new bridge continues to be assembled.
Mid-December and after a recent weekend of road closures, enabling heavy lifting, the framework for the physical tracks starts to take shape.
Very luck to have caught one of the giant steels being lowered into position.
Meanwhile over on Water Street, you can see how the bridge widening is progressing but also the new track is already being laid. Speedy work!
And of course you can see now how the new footbridge runs underneath the new rail bridge.
This photo really shows how much development is going on in Manchester right now. To the left, Middlewood Locks (2000 homes), straight up the Irwell on the lefthand side lies the site for 5 new tower blocks (almost 1000 new homes) and top right you can see the glass cladding at Number 1 Spinningfields.
Of course from all the cgi imagery and artists impressions, we saw the iconic waves to the new bridge. I wonder where they currently are?
Into the New Year we go and it’s amazing what can happen while most people are opening presents and getting merry!
Groundworks continue for the next section of track.
Late January and you can imagine how this new track is going to span Trinity Way.
From the air, it becomes very clear just how large this new bridge is!
It’s been building up to this for many weeks. 600 tonnes of steel arch, being lifted onto the new bridge by two of Europe’s biggest cranes, the larger is the largest crawling crane in the UK. The arches were made in Bolton by Severfield, who have supplied all 3,500 tonnes of steel for the project.
The arch reaches the max point before the crane needs to crawl forward and be loaded with more ballast so the move can continue.
The more the new arch was lifted up and out over the River Irwell, more ballast was loaded onto the back of the crane.
With the crawler crane in its new position, the move can continue. On The Irwell you can see the support boat keeping a safe distance & the arch is gingerly moved closer to its final resting place. The weather proved to be the calmest day in the previous fortnight. Luck was on everyones side.
Short clip of the arch being moved, x10 the actual speed.
It was a lengthly process but finally the arch arrives at its final resting place where it’s been designed to stay for at least the next 120 years.
So the next major milestone will be the final span across Trinity Way, which of course will include the “swoosh”. Architect Peter Jenkins must be a very proud man!
More updates to come as this £85m project progresses and if you work on the project and want to chip in, just send us an email email@example.com