The Ordsall Chord rail link, which connects Manchester’s three main stations, has welcomed its first passenger train after two years of construction.
The bridge, linking the north and south of the city centre, was used by a passenger service on Sunday morning after works were completed last month. The Sanska-Bam Nuttall joint venture has joined up the city’s Victoria, Picaddilly and Oxford Road stations for the first time.
The project, part of the multi-billion-pound Great North Rail scheme, will reduce congestion at Piccadily and allow faster and more frequent trains to run across the North West, and direct services between the North and Manchester Airport. However services will not run across the link to the airport until May next year.
Northern Rail managing director David Brown 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.
“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 first to use the chord”.
Rail minister Paul Maynard described the opening as a ‘historic day’ and said it would help “support faster, more flexible journeys for passengers across the region”.
Network Rail route managing director Martin Frobisher 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.”
Other schemes in the Great North Rail Project include North West electrification, West Yorkshire signalling upgrade, Transpennine Route upgrade, Liverpool City Region upgrade, improvements to Manchester Victoria Station and Calder Valley upgrade.