Q2 2016 Report
Q2 2016 Report

Q2 2016 was dominated by the run-up to the EU Referendum and its possible effects.

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Work begins on the Ordsall Chord

Work on the Ordsall Chord has finally begun this month following a lengthy, and controversial, design and consultation process. Preparatory work has commenced and the projected completion date is December 2017.

Work begins on the Ordsall Chord

At £85m for just a 340 metre railway extension, you could be forgiven for thinking that the cost seems excessive. However, the Ordsall Chord will join the Bolton line and the Chat Moss line via the world’s first asymmetric ‘squashed tennis racket’ style railway bridge over the Irwell and a new viaduct over Trinity Way. Victoria Station, Piccadilly and Oxford Road will be linked. The new line will circumvent the current bottleneck created by the various Manchester lines providing faster trains from the city centre to Manchester Airport and faster journey times to Hull, Newcastle and the North East.

Decreasing journey times across the North is a goal of the Government’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ project and the Ordsall Chord development is a lynchpin in Network Rail’s ‘Northern Hub’ – a £600m programme aiming to free up the region’s heavily congested rail network and a vital part of the ‘Powerhouse’.

This is by no means a simple project. In reality it is the sort of thing which people will describe as an “impressive feat of engineering” or a “revolutionary design” in years to come, which is where we come to the ironic controversy at the heart of the Ordsall Chord plan.

2015 saw the 185th anniversary of the world’s first inter-city railway – the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. If anything could truly deserve to be described as an impressive feat of engineering or a revolutionary design then that would be it.

The Ordsall Chord will cut right through it.

Different, but more expensive, options were proposed to fully preserve this part of our collective heritage for future generations, but the future economic benefits of the new line were judged to outweigh the history of the site.

It can be argued that the Liverpool and Manchester line is where the modern, industrial world began. The “Stonehenge of the railways” is how Andrew Davison, the former head of English Heritage has described the site. Keith Whitmore, the former head of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, has described the Ordsall Chord as “a slap in the face for heritage tourism.”

However, Manchester is not a city which stands still and admires the past.

However, Manchester is not a city which stands still and admires the past.

The history of Manchester is a history of change and innovation. Inventors, philosophers, industrialists, artists, scientists, musicians, engineers, authors, political radicals. Manchester has been a home to all of them and many more.

The city is developing into a true regional capital and is already considered by many to be the UK’s ‘second city’. Next door, Salford is also growing at a tremendous rate. The continuing expansion of MediaCityUK, the Port Salford development, the many new housing developments – such as our Bridgewater Gate and Bridgewater Point developments on Ordsall Lane - all signal to a bright future.

The changing skyline of Manchester and its growing stature as a destination for young professionals and tourists show that Manchester’s best years may yet be ahead of it. If the city is to continue on the path to becoming a truly global city then it must become a hub. Infrastructural improvements such as the Ordsall Chord will, in theory, open the City and the region up to more people, more places, and more business.

The Government, Manchester City Council and Network Rail are gambling on the Ordsall Chord playing a big part in a new era of economic success for city and the North West. Anything less and it will be remembered as an expensive symbol of the too-hasty sacrifice of history in pursuit of quick money.


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