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Under Ringing Arches for the Northern Hub Rail System in Ordsall Chord, Manchester 

An eighty-five million pound project to upgrade the rail system in Manchester has been delivered, and the Ordsall Chord is now in operation, linking Piccadilly and Victoria stations and spanning the River Irwell and the Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal.

Any major civil engineering project taking place in the centre of a city requires meticulous planning, and the design and construction of the Ordsall Chord is no exception.  The steel and concrete units were manufactured off-site, and then assembled in huge workshops to ensure that they fitted correctly, and to make it possible for any necessary adjustments to be carried out before final construction on the new track was started.

The steel bridge, which has been named a ‘squashed tennis racquet’ design is the centrepiece of the Ordsall Chord, but by no means the only bridge to be involved.  George Stephenson’s original bridge, a Grade 1 listed structure, can now be seen following the demolition of another bridge which had almost entirely obscured the view.  The graceful arches of the viaduct also needed upgrading and refurbishment to ensure that they are fit for their more modern purpose, and Skanska, the main contractor for the project, turned to Shay Murtagh Precast Concrete for the design, manufacture and delivery of the under ringing arches.

This section of the Northern Hub is not only an essential feature of the new railway system, shortening journey times and making it possible for a hugely increased number of passengers to use public transport rather than private cars; it is also designed to stand as an important part of Manchester’s heritage for many years to come.  For this reason, the very best in design, technology and materials was required, and Shay Murtagh, in producing the ringing arches, is proud to have played an important part.  Precast concrete is the material of choice for most major civil engineering projects throughout the world, and Shay Murtagh’s experience, as well as its technological expertise, makes the company a major player in the production of these durable, versatile and cost-effective construction units.