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 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 line
Stephenson'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 opening