A legal challenge against Network Rail’s plans for an £85m elevated chord railway providing a direct link between Manchester’s Piccadilly, Oxford Road and Victoria stations has been dismissed by the High Court.
The Ordsall Chord will be a 340m track extension linking the Bolton Lines railway near Castlefield to the Chat Moss Lines near Salford Central station.
Mark Whitby, past president of the Institution of Civil Engineering and former advisor to Network Rail on the Ordsall Chord project, brought three claims against the Secretary of State Patrick McLoughlin’s decision to approve the scheme in March. Whitby’s challenge was based on the belief that the scheme in its current form would damage the listed heritage assets around the historic Liverpool Road Station area, and proposed an alternative route through Scarborough Group’s Middlewood Locks which would be less damaging.
The judgment was handed down by Mrs Justice Lang in the Planning Court in London. She dismissed all three claims made by Whitby; two statutory challenges of the Transport & Works Act order, one of the Listed Building Consent and a judicial review of the planning permission. Mrs Justice Lang also refused permission for Whitby to appeal.
The original timescale for completion of the project was 2017, although this is expected to be revised due to delays in the approval of the planning application.
The scheme was designed by Network Rail in partnership with Skanska and BAM.
A Network Rail spokesman said: “We welcome this decision as the Ordsall Chord forms a key part of our Railway Upgrade Plan for the north of England. More than £1bn is being invested to provide passengers with better services and we plan to start work on the Ordsall Chord as soon as possible.”
Phil Mayall, development director for English Cities Fund, which is building the New Bailey scheme nearby in Salford, said: “The decision to reject the Ordsall Chord appeal is great news, especially for New Bailey. We’re really looking forward to the works commencing as soon as possible, in particular the associated improvements to Salford Central station. Not only will it offer significant benefits to people travelling to and from Salford Central, it will also have a positive impact on the wider North West region.”
The Ordsall Chord will support the delivery of:
- Two new fast trains per hour between Manchester Victoria and Liverpool
- Six fast trains an hour between Leeds and Manchester
- A new direct service through Manchester city centre to Manchester Airport
- Faster journey times to Hull, Newcastle and the North East