Ice causes problems for Metrolink to Oldham

Services between Victoria and Shaw & Crompton on the Oldham line of Manchester Metrolink were suspended on Wednesday 9th January because of icy conditions. Trams were stopped running shortly after 0700 because overnight conditions – which officials from Metrolink claimed had not been forecast – saw temperatures fall below acceptable levels leaving ice on the overhead wires. Normally when low temperatures are forecast ice breaker trams are run during the night because this wasn’t possible on this occasion as Metrolink were caught unawares. Trams were back running a few hours later once temperatures had risen sufficiently.

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8 Responses to Ice causes problems for Metrolink to Oldham

  1. Ralph Oakes-Garnett says:

    I despair. Less than 2 miles from Shaw and Crompton was the erstwhile highest tram terminus in England at the Yorks/Lancs border at Grains Bar. It gets cold in the Oldham area and it is winter and ice should be expected. We in Saddleworth were prepared. For God’s sake get your act together Metrolink. We all want the tram service to be a success but this is not helping. Losing existing passengers and prospective ones. If it was not so serious it would be laughable. People unable to get to work on time will not be happy.

    • freel07 says:

      Whilst I share your frustration Metrolink do pay the Met Office for forecasts specifically complied for their purposes so they can try to take the necessary precautions such as running trams through the night. Overnight Tuesday into Wednesday the forecast made no mention of a frost risk so they had no reason to suspect any problems.

      • Ken Walker says:

        They were caught out in exactly the same scenario on tha Eccles and Altrincham lines in November 2011.

        It appears that they have learned nothing. The excuse of some localised areas being subject to “more extreme temperatures” (frost in November or January extreme?) was used then as well.
        A forecast is by it’s very nature an “educated guess” using information available at the time. We have a city council which hates motorists and is doing everything it can to push people out of their cars and on to public transport. And we have an operator of public transport relying on the word of forecasters while abandoning the basic concept of common sense, and getting caught out twice in little over a year as a result. The outcome of their failure is far more than frustration: it has probably cost a lot of people money in the form of lost wages due to being late for work, and loss of income/productivity for businesses, some of which are probably already hanging on by a thread in the present climate. and all for Metrolink to save a few quid on an icebreaker. It’s just not good enough and there is no excuse.

    • Jamie Guest says:

      I’m not sure that Grain Bar was the highest, what about Outlane on the Huddersfield system.

      However is this due to modern trams not liking the arcing that occurs when there is ice on the OHLE. I know that on the railways this is a major problem that modern fault detecdtion systems don’t like ice whereas in older times with no monitoring a trolley pole just kept going.


  2. Ken Walker says:

    Didn’t they get caught out on another part of the system last winter with the same problem? Relying on the temperatures to be exactly as per the weather forecast is asking for trouble.

  3. Ralph Oakes-Garnett says:

    Oldham+Pennines+Winter= Ice at any time. I live not far away in Saddleworth Yorks and you have to be prepared at this time of the year for the worst at all times.

  4. freel07 says:

    Without wishing to get into an argument over this I do know that all operators including Metrolink have procedures in place for bad weather. They include actions for dealing with ice, snow, flooding, temperature extremes etc.

    Icing of overhead wires is difficult to avoid as inherently they are extremely effectively cooled and condensation forms on them readily. Running so called ice breakers is not always effective as the wire very quickly ices up again behind the pantograph and this can and does happen within seconds depending on humidity and temperature. There are well documented incidents of airport runways icing up within minutes. Black ice on highways forms unexpectedly at times leading to accidents.

  5. David Holt says:

    Complacency and excuses do not encourage improvement. People who haplessly, and at outrageously-increasing expense, rely on this multi-million pound transport investment risk being unfairly penalised for chronic lateness. That truth is not to be lightly ignored. Metrolink is indeed a brilliant concept shabbily executed.

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