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MOSI Bitter About Ordsall Chord

Chord strikes bum note with a rail link that will damage heritage, says museum

Written by . Published on December 14th 2012.

MOSI Bitter About Ordsall Chord

AS part of the plan to improve rail travel in the North, Network Rail are proposing a viaduct to connect Manchester’s Victoria, Oxford Road and Piccadilly stations. The money is in place for the work. 

However, MOSI will be objecting to Network Rail’s proposed alignment for the connection, the Ordsall Chord, as it will have a damaging effect on MOSI visitors, volunteers and income. 

The investment is intended to help ease a rail bottleneck to the south of Piccadilly station and enable faster, more frequent services to run across the North of England. 

The plans include a new 1km, £85m, section of track to the north west of Castlefield Junction. This will link the Castlefield Junction line with the Deal Street Junction line, connecting Manchester’s three main stations for the very first time.

The problem is this cuts across the line of the 1830 Liverpool and Manchester Railway into MOSI (The Museum of Science and Industry). The track is used for the extremely popular steam train rides in the museum, and is historically of huge importance. 

But every cloud has a silver lining - perhaps.

While an element of the 1830 railway would have to be removed, the work would reveal the Grade 1 listed viaduct over the River Irwell designed by George Stephenson (click here). This would come about through the demolition of a later viaduct extension currently masking the older structure.

Mid nineteenth century extension, with single colossal cast iron column, attached to the George Stephenson Grade 1 listed 1830 viaduct and masking it. View from the northMid nineteenth century extension, with single colossal cast iron column, attached to the George Stephenson Grade 1 listed 1830 viaduct and masking it. View from the north. The extension would be demolished and that crazy column lost should the Ordsall Chord proceed as planned.

For MOSI this is not a price worth paying.

The museum told Confidential. 

'MOSI supports the Northern Hub project and recognises the benefits that would derive from improving the connection between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria stations. 

'However, MOSI will be objecting to Network Rail’s proposed alignment for the connection, the Ordsall Chord, as it will have a damaging effect on MOSI visitors, volunteers and income. 

'Our preference would be that the Ordsall Chord be delivered whilst preserving MOSI's heritage and cultural standing, maintaining its ability to run its popular steam train ride on its current Y-shaped configuration, and maintaining MOSI's access to the mainline. 

'The proposed alignment does not deliver on any of these objectives. It will have a severe impact on MOSI’s visitors, its historic site, its day-to-day railway operations, its volunteers, its routine revenue generating activity, and its fund-raising ability related to its ambition to restore and interpret the MOSI story of where science met industry and the modern world began.'

They have a point.

A huge point when it comes to preserving the alignment of the oldest passenger railway system into the oldest passenger railway station in the world. It should always be borne in mind that it was the Liverpool and Manchester railway's success that led to all global rail networks. This is epoch-making heritage here. 

Confidential reckons that if MOSI has an alternative plan then it should be examined by the rail authorities with close attention.

Once you lose this sort of heritage it's not coming back. 

Ordsall Chord proposed route with the Stephenson bridge peeping out behind. This cuts the MOSI line and the 1830 Liverpool and Manchester Railway lineOrdsall Chord proposed route with the Stephenson bridge peeping out behind. This cuts the MOSI line and the 1830 Liverpool and Manchester Railway line

Stephenson's bridge from the south where it is also masked from general view by the 1840s Manchester, Altrincham and South Junction Railway viaductStephenson's bridge from the south, where it is also masked from general view by the 1840s Manchester, Altrincham and South Junction Railway viaduct

1830 Viaduct As Depicted Shortly After Opening1830 viaduct as depicted shortly after opening


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18 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

crisbyDecember 14th 2012.

I'd like to think they could solve the problem with a crossover like I had on my train set. But seriously, this is an important connection and it's going to be very difficult if not impossible to lift the chord high enough to give clearance. Let's hope the Inspector makes them take a long hard look at it, one suspects it hasn't been a priority so far.

Charlie HulmeDecember 14th 2012.

Too late to be objecting now, the current consultation is only about the design of the new bridge. The original 'Castlefield curve' plan from the 1970s could have been used, but I think would have meant altering the grade 1 listed 'Stephenson bridge - personally speaking (and heretically perhaps) I would have perferred that option.

And the mainline connection has, I understand, already been disconnected, the last passengers to use it were Price Charles and his entourage in 2010. Maybe they can create a new Y-shape for the internal line by reconnecting the link which existed near to the present main entrance.

DavidDecember 14th 2012.

If MOSI is so dependent on running steam train trips,it just highlights the long term failure of vision and management for this Musuem.They have the best location in Manchester for a Musuem,but they have continually failed to deliver on even their own development schemes.Now it seems they are reduced to making nimby like objection to the Chord,in the hope that they might get some financial compensation.

AnonymousDecember 15th 2012.

David, on the off-chance you have millions of spare pounds, perhaps you can help MOSI with their dreams. They need money to survive and it doesn't grow on trees... or perhaps you haven't noticed.

1 Response: Reply To This...
DavidDecember 15th 2012.

Their problems are largely their own fault.They have lacked effective and strategic leadership.
For a start,maybe they might consider going back to their proper name and dropping the ridiculous name change to MOSI.

Duke FameDecember 16th 2012.

Here is the problem the coalition is faced with. They deliver the finance and the plans to really make a difference to the immediate economy and the economy of this town & those in the north west for the future. It will be an investment that will help science industry and trade.

Immediately, there are complaints about some fairly unimportant issues. In the meantime, the builders who can construct the thing, the surveyors to monitor their design etc etc etc are unemployed. No other nation faffs around like us, we;re in an economic hole, this sort of investmetn is a good way to get out of it and instead, we have selfish objections ironically from someone who prefers to keep science and industry in a museum.

Jonathan SchofieldDecember 16th 2012.

Duke, who is the person who wants to keep Science and Industry in a museum? Nobody is saying that in the article or the rants. What the museum seems to be saying is can we check out the alternatives?

Also we are really not as bad with prevarication as you think. Five years ago I was doing some research work in Northern Sweden and their main super railway line had been stopped south of Umea because of some frogs. Or maybe snails. Something.

The problem was some creatures might, and it was only might, have their habitats damaged, and only damaged not destroyed, if the line went ahead.

Hence this major and totally necessary step change for a whole region was halted for years.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 16th 2012.

Which is exactly the step change that MOSI seem to want to delay.

Another TimDecember 17th 2012.

In case anyone's interested I've put an overlay of the "preferred route" on a Google map to make it easier to see where it goes - excuse me if something similar has been done already but I couldn't find anything.

Slightly off topic but I'd like to know where all this leaves pedestrians and cyclists. There aren't many routes out of the city in that direction for those groups and the new line goes straight over Princes Bridge. Network Rail have an "Appendix F: Replacement Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge Location", but all it shows is a big green shape covering the whole area, which is apparently a "zone within which replacement pedestrian bridge is proposed". All rather vague and non-committal. Can anyone point me towards any more detailed information? Thanks.

1 Response: Reply To This...
DavidDecember 17th 2012.

If people want another route then they might explain where the extra money is going to come from.
We have a whole host of Labour MPs in this city who did nothing during the the long years of Labour rule to tackle the huge disparity in transport funding between London and Manchester.
We have a editor of this website who has also consistently failed to tackle local politicians like Stringer about this.

Jill JillianDecember 18th 2012.

What about installing a turntable at the junction of the rail lines so the line is still technically available but unlikely to be used ,then allow MOSI to run historic trams out of the rear entrance of the museum and up Liverpool Road to GMex and back again

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 19th 2012.

A turntable? Are there any turntables left on the rail network in this country?

AnonymousDecember 23rd 2012.

Yes there is one presently being installed just outside York railway station, to repleace a triangle which was used by engineering trains and steam locos on the many charters that run to and from Yoek during the summer season.

AnonymousJanuary 4th 2013.

About as many as there are steam trains

crisbyDecember 19th 2012.

Don't hold your breath folks, this project is still 'pre-application' and the Government's new, streamlined fast track major infrastructure planning process takes at least a year. There's quite a lot of info on infrastructure.planningportal.gov.uk/…/…
Jonathan, you're quite right; planning major projects takes a long time in most democratic countries, though I think you're a bit dismissive about the importance of biodiversity.

Michael JonesJanuary 9th 2013.

Is MOSI having a laugh? THey want to hold back an improvement to train times across the region so they can run Thomas the Tank Engine up the track!

AnonymousOctober 10th 2013.

There is still time to object if you don't favour this highly destructive and over-expensive plan, but you need to be quick about it! Register your objection with the Secretary of State for Transport at - transportandworksact@dft.gsi.gov.uk

AnonymousOctober 10th 2013.

PS to previous message - details from Transport and Works Act website: "Any objections to, or other representations about, the proposals in the TWA application should be sent to the Secretary of State for Transport c/o Transport and Works Act Orders Unit, General Counsel's Office, Department for Transport, Zone 1/18, Great Minster House, 33 Horseferry Road, London SW1P 4DR , email transportandworksact@dft.gsi.gov.uk. An objection or representation MUST (i) be received by the Secretary of State on or before 28 October 2013, (ii) be made in writing (whether sent by post or email), (iii) state the grounds of the objection or other representation, (iv) indicate who is making the objection or representation, and (v) give an address to which correspondence relating to the objection or representation may be sent. (If you are sending your objection or other representation by e-mail, please provide a postal address andstate "Ordsall Chord TWA Order" in the subject of the email.) " Go on - give it a go!

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