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The opening of the Ordsall Chord, one of the most significant rail infrastructure projects in the North of England, was attended recently by the Rail Minister Paul Maynard, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Salford Mayor Paul Dennett, marking its completion.

The Ordsall Chord is part of Network Rail’s £1bn+ Great North Rail Project, an integral part of the national Railway Upgrade Plan that will increase connectivity and promote economic growth in the region.

For the past two years, as part of the delivery team, joint-venture partners Skanska and BAM Nuttall have delivered significant and complex civil engineering and construction works that have created a network for the future while celebrating the industrial heritage of Manchester. This has included:

·the installation of the UK’s first asymmetric rail bridge, the Ordsall Chord

·bridge renovation work, including the Grade I listed Stephenson's Bridge

·the reconfiguration and laying of new tracks

·the widening of viaducts.

Paul Maynard MP, Rail Minister, said of the project:

“The construction of this new, iconic bridge has supported 2,000 jobs, including new apprentices and graduates, and will provide new and direct links to Manchester Airport from across the region.”

Earlier in the year, 600t bridge arches were installed using a tandem lift that involved a 750t-capacity crawler crane in conjunction with a 1,350t capacity crawler - the largest in Europe, and were required because of the wide radius of the lift.

The arches were placed on the bridge deck sections already installed over the River Irwell, forming the new asymmetric arch bridge that has transformed Manchester’s skyline.

Executive Vice President of Skanska Thomas Faulkner said:

“This is a major engineering achievement that will not only improve connectivity but also open up opportunities for people within the region. It’s an historic moment, for the delivery team, for Manchester and for the legacy it will leave for the railway and we are proud of the part we have played.”

Central to the success of the project has been how the alliance delivery team has worked alongside Network Rail, with a ‘win together, lose together’ attitude to deliver the works successfully.

Director of Pre-construction at BAM Nuttall Alan Cox said:

“As impressive as the outcome is in terms of its engineering and overall delivery success, what has been most rewarding has been the manner in which the success has been achieved: open collaboration with over 200 stakeholders, with everyone focused on an outcome that meant success for everyone. A game changer, not only for the people on the project and its neighbours but also the industry as a whole. Customers will feel this benefit for many years to come.”

Martin Frobisher, route managing director of Network Rail, said:

“The completion of Ordsall Chord is a seminal moment in the Great North Rail Project that will transform train travel for millions of customers across the north. The old is giving birth to the new. We are mirroring the vision of George Stephenson for the benefit of the communities we serve, for generations to come.”

The completion event was held at Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry on Thursday, 9 November. Opening for passenger services from December, the Ordsall Chord will create new links to Manchester Airport from the north, enable more frequent trains and connect Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria stations for the first time.