Two trams collided at St Peter’s Square on Friday 10th November causing major delays across the entire Manchester Metrolink network. The low speed collision happened in the platform at St Peter’s Square with minor damage caused to both trams but no injuries were reported. Despite the apparent minor nature of the collision all Metrolink services were immediately suspended whilst initial investigations took place; a decision which is to be fully reviewed for any future incidents.
The collision happened shortly after 0815 when 3044 ran into the back of 3079 on the city bound 1CC platform at St Peter’s Square (although a confusing statement from TfGM states that an Eccles bound platform collided with a stationary tram). At first glance there seemed to be nothing unusual with Metrolink operations at the time as it is common practice for a second single tram to pull into the platform at St Peter’s Square (with the platform of course being long enough for a double unit anyway). It just seems that for whatever reason 3044 was unable to stop before coming into contact with 3079. This will be one of the main items to be looked at in any investigation.
As 3044 was only travelling slowly in order to make the stop at the platform the collision was only at very low speed and as such the damage caused was only minor. However, some damage to the lower section of the tram can be seen in photos taken at the scene.
All tram services across the entire network were immediately suspended whilst the first investigations took place before it was possible to resume a service shortly before 0930, albeit with severe delays. With the inbound 1CC stop blocked by the collided trams no trams were able to run via this route which meant that the Altrincham to Bury service was diverted via 2CC with services from the Altrincham to Etihad Campus and Piccadilly to MediaCityUK routes suspended. Trams from Eccles were turned at Cornbrook and those from Ashton-under-Lyne ran as far as Piccadilly.
An investigation was immediately launched into what caused the collision with witness interviews and CCTV set to form a crucial part of the investigation. This information will all be passed onto the RAIB who will make a decision on whether to produce a full report.
In the aftermath of the incident a lot of criticism was levelled at KeolisAmey Metrolink, in probably the biggest test of their tenure still taking control of operating Metrolink, mainly in respect of the decision to suspend the entire network for over an hour. Whilst the initial decision, when the full impact of the incident was assessed, can be easily understood the length of time it took to decide to divert trams via 2CC or to turn short seems to have been the cause of much discussion.
Danny Vaughan, TfGM Head of Metrolink, said: “I’m thankful that no one was injured as a result of this incident and echo my earlier apology to those whose journey was disrupted. Quite frankly, incidents like this should not happen and I’ve emphasised to the operator the absolute urgency with which they need to ensure a meticulous and swift investigation is carried out. There is no higher priority than the safety of our customers, so I would like to reassure everyone who uses Metrolink that we are treating this matter with the urgency it warrants. I’d also like to reassure our customers that the decision to stop all services this morning is one that we will review closely with the operator.”
Aline Frantzen, Managing Director of KeolisAmey Metrolink, added: “We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience caused to passengers this morning. Our staff secured alternative transport options to help keep passengers moving while working to resume services safely across the network and carry out a thorough investigation into this incident. We take customer safety seriously so the decision was taken to suspend all services. This meant trams were stopped at platforms so passengers could leave as they needed or wanted to, and prevented disruption to the city’s roads. We will continue to work closely with TfGM and the RAIB to establish the cause and we will also review the way in which we dealt with the incident.”
With the two trams removed from the stop normal services resumed from approximately 1300 including via 1CC to Piccadilly Gardens, Piccadilly and Ashton.