Rail operator Northern is preparing to welcome customers onto the first passenger service to cross Manchester’s Ordsall Chord on Sunday 10 December.

The historic bridge, a centrepiece of the Great North Rail Project, connects north and South Manchester and, on Sunday, will see customers cross for the first time. The moment will be marked by Rail Minister Paul Maynard who will travel on one of the first trains across the Ordsall Chord

The new bridge is a key link in the modernisation of rail services in the north of England and will enable Northern’s customers to travel from West Yorkshire, through the Calder Valley, direct to Manchester Oxford Road.

From May 2018, Northern’s customers will benefit from services running straight from the east coast through to Manchester Airport, via Manchester Victoria.

Rail Minister Paul Maynard said: “This is a historic day for the north and for rail travel in the UK because Manchester’s three main stations are linked for the first time. The Ordsall Chord will help to support faster, more flexible journeys for passengers across the region.

“It’s a key part of the Great North Rail Project, which will increase direct rail links between Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and other cities in the north.”

David Brown, Managing Director at Northern; said: “The Ordsall Chord is now an iconic part of the railway in the north of England – as well as the Manchester skyline – and is tangible evidence of the Great North Rail Project and the rail industry working together.

“It’s fantastic that our customers are now able to cross the city by rail and we look forward to the extension of these services from Bradford through to Manchester Airport.

David added: “Sunday 10 December will be a day to remember for rail travel in the north of England and we at Northern are honoured that our services will be the first to use the Chord.”

Martin Frobisher, route managing director for Network Rail, said: “Seeing the first train cross the Ordsall Chord is an extremely proud moment for me and for the hundreds of men and women who have worked incredibly hard to build it.

“It is the centrepiece of the Great North Rail Project, which is helping transform train travel for people across the North right now and for generations to come.”

Cllr Liam Robinson, Chair of Rail North said: “The first passenger services travelling over this vital new infrastructure represents a major milestone in improving rail connections for passengers as part of the Great North Rail Project.

“We look forward to building on this success through further infrastructure and franchise enhancements to allow people to travel more easily by rail.”

The official ‘first train’ event will take place on Sunday 10 December at Manchester Victoria when Mr Maynard will join rail industry colleagues to travel across the Ordsall Chord to Manchester Oxford Road.

A limited number of lucky customers will also be able to claim special ticket commemorating the first day in service of the iconic bridge.