Work to provide a better railway across the north of England will continue this Christmas – but will mean changes to train services from the end of October while the benefits are delivered.

The Ordsall Chord, part of Network Rail’s £1bn+ Northern Programmes investment in the north, will improve connectivity across the region by linking Manchester Victoria and Manchester Piccadilly for the first time.  New, direct links to Manchester Airport from the north will also be created.

The work will involve reconfiguring the existing railway between Eccles and Deansgate, Eccles and Manchester Victoria and Deansgate and Salford Crescent stations. The track changes will allow the 300 metre chord, a brand new section of railway, to connect with the new layout before work is completed by December 2017.  

Other work will consist of the installation of two new bridges and renovation of one existing bridge on Water Street, the widening of Castlefield viaduct and a new track layout at Ordsall Lane.  There will also be signalling improvements as well as constructing new overhead line equipment.

To ensure this essential work can be carried out safely, train services in and out of Manchester will be affected at different times, including:

-              Weekends from Saturday 29 October until Sunday 11 December 2016.

-              Between early Sunday 18 December 2016 until the last service on Monday 2 January 2017.

Oxford Road and Deansgate stations will also be affected and will be closed on 27 and 31 December as well as 1 and 2 January. All stations will be closed to train services on Christmas Day and Boxing Day as usual.

Passengers are being advised to plan their journey and check www.nationalrail.co.uk.  Some services may be subject to change so it is important passengers continue to check whether their journey has been affected with their train operator before they travel. 

Martin Frobisher, route managing director for Network Rail, said: "While I recognise the short-term pain of timetable impacts as we build the Ordsall Chord, I would urge people to keep sight of the long-term gain this scheme will bring them.

"Connecting Manchester's two main stations removes a pinch-point on the rail network that has existed for more than 100 years. This will improve train travel not just for people in Manchester itself but for passengers across whole of the north of England.

"The Ordsall Chord will also help deliver the key benefits of the Railway Upgrade Plan for the north.  There will be quicker, more frequent, more pleasant train journeys between Manchester and Leeds. These improvements will be felt, too, by customers in Newcastle, Hull and other great cities and towns across the region."

Liam Sumpter, Regional Director for Northern, said: “This colossal engineering undertaking will make a huge difference to our customers. Not only for those who travel across Manchester but also those who travel through the city to the rest of the North. Many of our customers in the region are looking forward to the benefits this project will bring to their journeys with us in the future; more seats, faster journeys and better trains.”

Steve Lee, Head of Customer Experience for TPE commented: “This work is a vital part in improving Manchester’s railway, allowing us to introduce more journey opportunities, frequent services and brand new trains.

“The upcoming work will affect our routes between Scotland and Manchester Airport and between Liverpool and Manchester. We are advising everyone to take the time to plan each of their journeys in advance at: tpexpress.co.uk/ordsall which is important as different changes will apply each day.

“We will also be providing extra members of staff at stations including Manchester Piccadilly to assist customers.”

Amanda White, head of rail for transport for Greater Manchester, said: “The construction of the Ordsall Chord is absolutely critical to an improved rail network in and around Greater Manchester. The Chord will provide a rail link between Manchester Victoria and Manchester Piccadilly for the first time and will open up new routes to and from Manchester Airport. This is a major infrastructure development that will provide more capacity and better reliability for customers across the region.”

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester is growing quickly and through our Project Grow initiative, we have a package of works that is redesigning Manchester’s infrastructure to build a thriving and sustainable, 21st century city. The Ordsall Chord project is key to this ambition, creating a link between the city’s major rail hubs for the first time that will improve connectivity across Greater Manchester and the wider region.”

Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett said:  “Ordsall Chord is desperately needed to cope with the needs of our communities – especially with all the new investment and jobs in the region.

“Unfortunately there will be some disruption while the works take place but we cannot stand still.  We need to provide faster, more reliable and more connected transport links for passengers in the future.”  

To plan your journey and check for the latest travel information visit www.nationalrail.co.uk.