Around 1,500 people took part in an ambitious and complex schedule of work to construct and extend a section of railway in Central Manchester.
The huge steps made over the Christmas period to create the Ordsall Chord and improve train travel across the north of England have been documented in a short film.
The film demonstrates how, during the 16 day blockade, around 1,500 people from Network Rail, Skanska Bam, Amey Sersa, Siemens and Severfield took part in an ambitious and complex schedule of work to construct and extend a section of railway in Central Manchester.
During the period between Sunday 18 December 2016 and Tuesday 3 January 2017, the existing railway infrastructure between Eccles and Deansgate was renewed and reconfigured. These latest changes will facilitate the connection of the 300 metre chord, a brand new section of railway, to the new layout before work is completed by December 2017.
During this time a new signalling system has been commissioned – completing one of the most complicated signalling jobs of the last 40 years in the north west.
The workforce worked around the clock to install:
• 3km of new overhead wiring
• Eight new sets of switches and crossings
• 1km of new track installed
• 9,000 tonnes of new ballast
• 52 new signals
• 76 axle counters
Other work consisted of removing an existing Grade 2 listed bridge on Water Street and replacing it with a new structure along with another bridge which carries the very first section of the Ordsall Chord. Both bridges, weighing in at 190 tonnes and 300 tonnes respectively, were assembled on site and driven into position by a self-propelled modular transporter (SPMT).
Insitu concrete piers and pre-cast concrete arch extensions, weighing around 250 tonnes each, were constructed in the months leading up to the blockade as part of the widening of the Castlefield viaduct. All have subsequently been waterproofed prior to track and ballast installation.
Due to the size and scale of this essential work, there were necessary changes to train services during this period. However, a route was always maintained into Manchester throughout the blockade and services resumed, as planned, once the work was finished.
When the project is fully complete, it will provide new and direct links to Manchester Airport in the north, help support Network Rail’s wider £1bn+ Railway Upgrade for the north and reduce congestion at Manchester Piccadilly by a quarter, as well as linking the station with Manchester Victoria for the first time.
Network Rail’s Mike Heywood, Alliance Manager for the organisations involved, said: “As the film shows, the work undertaken has been complex and extremely challenging, however, it’s a challenge the team accepted and completed on time thanks to the expertise of those involved.
“From the start of the project until completion in December 2017, we will have used 14,339 cubic metres of concrete, 28,500 tonnes of ballast, installed 66 new/altered signals, 4,378 tonnes of steel and built seven bridges. This gives an idea of the scale of the project and how we are determined to improve the journeys of passengers across the region.”
Keith Gardner, Skanska Project Director: “The project team has delivered a major programme of extremely complex work over the Christmas period on time and to plan, which is a testament to the skill and dedication of everyone involved.
“I'm very pleased and proud with what we've achieved, and the team and I are looking forward to delivering the next phase of work as we head for completion at the end of this year.”
Senior Project Manager for Siemens, James Davies said: “From a signalling perspective this is the most complex stage of the project. During the blockade, our 300 strong Signalling team worked in shifts night and day to complete the installation and commission the new infrastructure and associated signals, plus re-control of the existing Oxford Road and Trafford Park interlocking to Manchester’s Rail Operating Centre.
“The success of this major stage was only possible due to the extremely close and collaborative working relationship that exists within the project team and the tremendous efforts of everyone involved.”
Jarrod Hulme, Project Manager for Severfield, responsible for the steelwork, said: “Our team worked especially close with other members of the alliance during the preparation of these works. The successful installation of these two structures during the Christmas period was undoubtedly as a result of our teams working together and thoroughly planning each step. The Ordsall Chord is an exciting project to be involved in and we at Severfield are proud to be part of the alliance delivering it.”
James McDermott, Amey Account Director, speaking on behalf of AmeySersa said: “The successful, safe delivery of this engineering work is an excellent demonstration of our strength as an alliance. I’m grateful to all of those who worked round the clock over the Christmas and New Year period to deliver this crucial step in creating better journeys for the region’s commuters.”
Watch the short film highlighting the work on the Ordsall Chord over Christmas and New Year .