UK: Infrastructure manager Network Rail submitted its application for legal powers to build a short chord in Manchester to provide additional capacity for cross-city services on September 17.

Straddling the border between Manchester itself and the neighbouring city of Salford, the 1·5 km south-to-east Ordsall Chord is intended to allow more trains to run across the city and provide a regular-interval service between Manchester’s main hub at Piccadilly and Victoria station on the north side of the city centre. It is also intended to eliminate the need for trains between northeast England and Manchester Airport to cross the station throat at Piccadilly at grade before reversing.

As such, the Ordsall Chord forms one of the principal infrastructure elements of the £560m Northern Hub programme of capacity enhancement across northern England, which Network Rail hopes will allow up to 700 more trains to run every day. The Northern Hub work also includes plans for the construction of an extra pair of ‘satellite’ platforms on the west side of Piccadilly station to support the increasing number of trains running across the city.

Network Rail hopes that if its Transport & Works Act Application is successful, work could start by early 2015 for completion within two years. The chord would be electrified in line with Network Rail’s rolling national programme which includes plans to wire the main trans-Pennine route between Manchester and York at 25 kV 50 Hz by 2019.

A full report on the Northern Hub programme appeared in the April 2012 issue of Railway Gazette International , available to subscribers via our digital archive.