Building work on a new curved railway bridge that will provide the first ever direct link between Manchester's largest stations has been completed by Network Rail.
The Ordsall Chord provides a connection between the lines that head north-westwards out of the city centre towards Salford Crescent and beyond, of which one leads from Piccadilly, Oxford Road and Deansgate stations and the other from Victoria and Salford Central. Until now, the junction has only allowed for travel northwards.
By providing a link between these lines heading southwards, trains from Victoria can now loop round through Deansgate and onwards to Manchester Piccadilly. This means trains can pass from the northern parts of Greater Manchester all the way to the southern suburbs, Stockport and Manchester Airport.
Network Rail said the conclusion of the engineering and construction project means trains can be running on it as early as next month, meaning some of the first beneficiaries of improved transport links will be Christmas shoppers.
Network Rail route managing director Martin Frobisher remarked: "The completion of Ordsall Chord is a seminal moment in the Great North Rail Project, which will transform train travel for millions of customers across the north.
"The old is giving birth to the new. Team Orange is mirroring the vision of George Stephenson for the benefit of the communities we serve for generations to come."
Mr Frobisher's reference to the old being replaced by the new is not accidental, for the development has not been without controversy. The new line cut off access to the main line from the platform of the Liverpool Street Station, the world's first passenger terminal, from which the Museum of Science and Industry - of which it is part - can now no longer run short steam excursions.
However, the new line makes history of its own, as the world's first asymmetric railway bridge.
The issue of linking Victoria and Piccadilly has been one of the longest-running themes in Manchester's public transport history. In the 1970s, work started on the Picc-Vic underground line, but this was cancelled by the government. However, the two stations have been linked by tram since the Metrolink started in 1992.