It has been a while since a T68 departed Manchester Metrolink metals but on Saturday 11th April 1003 became the latest of the class to leave; although unlike other departees this tram ran under its own power to the connection with the East Lancashire Railway at Bury before being propelled off Metrolink property for the last time by Metrolink’s Special Purpose Vehicle.
1003 has been purchased by the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and is eventually destined for use at their new training college in Bury. This project has been delayed and as a result has remained on Metrolink property until now and is now set for a further period of storage this time at the East Lancashire Railway.
The tram was admitted to the workshops at Queens Road the previous week and underwent an exam to clear it to run under its own power. Departing the depot after the last service tram in the early hours of Saturday 11th April 1003 ran as far as the ELR connection just north of the Hagside Level Crossing. It was then powered down for the very last time and Metrolink’s own Special Purpose Vehicle was then used to move it off Metrolink tracks and onto the ELR.
This is almost certain to the last time that a T68/T68A runs under its own power on Metrolink property as despite the fact that four remain stored at Trafford Depot (Heaton Park’s 1007, 1020, 1023 and 2001) it is strongly expected that they will not move under their own steam again before departing. 1020, 1023 and 2001 can be seen looking rather forlorn in the yard at the depot whilst 1007 is a bit more fortunate as it is in the workshops awaiting eventual movement to the Heaton Park Tramway. No further information is known as to what the future is for the three stored trams.
For the record 1003 was delivered to Manchester on 5th November 1991 entering service on the first day of operations – 6th April 1992. During its operating career it was involved in accident in 1994 which saw it moved to Washwood Heath for repairs and then in 2002 it derailed at Victoria. Its other main claim to fame is of course that it was the only ever T68 to run in service carrying the Yellow and Silver livery albeit with centre adverts. Withdrawn on 12th November 2013 it finally left Metrolink metals on 11th April 2015.