Work will continue on a crucial piece of rail infrastructure to increase capacity across the North, linking Manchester’s Victoria, Oxford Road and Piccadilly Stations with a new viaduct despite a fresh legal challenge from objector Mark Whitby.
Whitby, a rail engineer who was originally on the design panel that chose the route for Ordsall Chord – until he quit after his preferred option was not selected – has been granted leave to appeal by Court of Appeal. The decision follows the rejection by the High Court in October 2015 of three separate legal challenges brought by Whitby.
Whitby then submitted an application to the Court of Appeal to appeal the fact he was not allowed to appeal. The Court of Appeal has now granted him the right to appeal the fact he was not allowed to appeal.
Network Rail said it will continue with construction, which began in October, as its Transport & Works Act order still stands.
Whitby is a former president of the Institution of Civil Engineering. He wanted the viaduct to be built along a route that would bisect Scarborough Developments’ Middlewood Locks development area. He said this would have preserved the grade 1-listed George Stephenson-designed railway viaduct that the Ordsall Chord will cut through.
Network Rail programme director Nick Spall responded overnight: “This is the location of the world’s first inter-city railway, opened in 1830 by George Stephenson. Stephenson was an innovator who brought progress. If he was alive today we firmly believe he would build the Ordsall Chord. The old railway is giving birth to the new.”
Cllr Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council and GMCA lead for Rail North, said: “I agree with the Secretary of State’s original judgement – a decision made following extensive consultation by Network Rail – that this is the right option for the city, the region, and the country, and I want to see this vitally important new line opening as soon as possible. Manchester was the city where the rail revolution began in the 19th century, and the Ordsall Chord will enable us to create a railway fit for our 21st century population.”
Salford City Mayor Ian Stewart said: “Orsdall Chord is a vital piece of infrastructure that is desperately needed in the northern powerhouse. We need faster, more frequent services to transport people in and out of Greater Manchester – a region which is thriving. It will help to boost the local economy and create even more jobs and investment.”
Ordsall Chord is part of a £1bn programme of rail improvements in the North, which will help boost the economy by providing faster more frequent services, and increasing investment and job opportunities.
Spall added: “The benefits of the Ordsall Chord are recognised across the north of England and this significant investment has the support of civic leaders representing more than one million people across the Greater Manchester area.
“We want to deliver this vital and long overdue improvement to the railway to benefit the millions of taxpaying passengers who want, and deserve it.
“If our programme of work is further delayed as a result ongoing legal challenges, we, and in turn taxpayers, will face additional costs totalling millions of pounds.”
No date has been set for the Court of Appeal hearing. Ordsall Chord is due to be completed by December 2017, subject to Whitby winning an injunction to overturn the order and stop work on site.
Whitby was unavailable for comment.