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A victory for common nonsense

with 4 comments

The Ordsall chord actuality

Network Rail has emerged victorious in a court battle with engineer Mark Whitby, who was set on stopping the company’s £85 million Ordsall chord being built, the Manchester Evening News reported.

[One man battle to derail Ordsall Chord finally comes to an end as Judge dismisses appeal, Charlotte Cox, 23 Mar 2016]

Work has already started on the major scheme, which Network Rail says will speed up travel times and increase capacity.

However the legal row has set the completion date back from December 2016 to the end of 2017.

Rail expert Mark Whitby first brought a case to against Network Rail last year, claiming the planning permission process for the project had been flawed.

Mr Whitby, who had initially been a consultant on the project for Network Rail, also claimed there was an alternative route which would do less damage to Manchester’s rail heritage.

But a judge ruled in October that the Ordsall Chord could go ahead and work began.

However in January, Mr Whitby won his right to appeal and a further case was heard.

But today Judge Simon, sitting at the London Court of Appeal, decided to dismiss Mr Whitby’s three appeals.

Two were statutory challenges of the Transport and Works Act order of Listed Building Consent and one was a judicial review of the planning permission.

The chord is part of Network Rail’s wider Manchester Northern Hub programme, but the evidence for the Ordsall chord ‘speeding up travel times and increasing capacity’ is graphene thin.

In a November 2011 article for Rail Technology Magazine, Peter Johnston, former Greater Manchester PTE Rail Services Officer, pointed out that Ordsall’s capacity benefits were largely illusory, and it would make journeys from the north to the airport longer, not shorter.

Clearly, the Ordsall chord is in no way a substitute for well-designed rail connectivity across Greater Manchester. But the outlook is bleak. Amanda White, Transport for Greater Manchester’s “head of rail”, engineered the preposterous HS2 route into the city.

How does adding flat junctions increase capacity utilisation?

Written by beleben

March 23, 2016 at 9:29 pm

Posted in Manchester

4 Responses

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  1. The Ordsall Chord has flat junctions at either end, yes, but there is no other option. There are only to be a small number of services running over the chord in any case, and so the timetabling constraints can be managed. So long as the services running over the chord come at the same time in both directions – something made possible by the extra platform at the Airport, as the service can wait there until such time that when it reaches the chord, it will be passing the next service going to the Airport. At the northern end, a fifth track is being built through Salford Central which will allow additional regulation of services running over the chord. In the worst case scenario that it will have to wait, it won’t block the passage of other trains so it is not the end of the world by any means.

    The only way of providing a grade-separated link would be to resurrect the Picc-Vic tunnel scheme, which isn’t going to happen.


    April 18, 2016 at 12:29 am

    • “The Ordsall Chord has flat junctions at either end, yes, but there is no other option.”

      A perfectly feasible option would be to build a Leipzig-S-Bahn-type connection tunnel under Manchester, perhaps called something like ‘Pic Vic 21’.


      April 18, 2016 at 5:13 pm

      • Would this be the best use of the limited funds available? Manchester’s problem is not that it has terminating stations, but that it has two separate through stations not linked together properly. Tunnels are excellent ways to allow additional through services but in Manchester, all you need to enable this is to build the extra platforms at Piccadilly, rebuild Oxford Road and build the chord. Passengers needing to go into Manchester itself are served by the Metrolink network which has taken over suburban services more effectively than an expensive tunnel. That tunnel would not increase capacity where it is actually required, which is between Piccadilly and Stockport.

        [Comment by Beleben:] There is no evidence that the Metrolink network has “taken over suburban services more effectively than an expensive tunnel”. Metrolink exists, because the government would not fund Picc-Vic.
        It should be fairly obvious that the Ordsall chord is unable to support a cross-city rail service of the type found in Munich, Leipzig, Berlin, or Hamburg, or to improve access to central Manchester.


        April 19, 2016 at 3:06 pm

      • Well, have you ever looked at the Picc-Vic scheme? You’re looking for evidence that it has done a job more effectively than this tunnel,

        [Comment by Beleben:] Your comment is incomprehensible. What does “it”, “done a job”, and “this tunnel”, refer to?

        and the fact that the Metrolink network now extends further than this tunnel was ever supposed to do should be some indication of its success.

        [Comment by Beleben:] How far was “this tunnel” “supposed” to “extend”?
        However, no amount of argument or reason that I will ever be able to suggest will be enough for you.


        April 20, 2016 at 1:45 am

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