Ice on the overhead is an issue which often affects tram services over the winter months but in order to counter this most tram companies send out special “ice breaker” trams overnight to ensure that a normal service can run. But still occasionally these don’t do the job and services are affected, and that was the case for Edinburgh Trams on Tuesday 12th January.
As is normal ice breaker trams were sent out first thing in the morning but these all suffered technical issues which meant they were unable to complete the task. As a result all services on Edinburgh Trams were suspended while engineers were sent to the affected locations to investigate further as to what was causing the technical faults.
In a statement at the start of the day explaining the issue a spokesperson from Edinburgh Trams said: “What we have right now is a situation where there’s ice formed on the overhead line which is not uncommon and to prevent that or to break that up we send out what we call ‘ice breaker trams’ to literally break off the ice but for some reason this morning the trams attempting to do that are failing due to technical faults we don’t know why that is at the moment. We can’t run normal service trams until we’ve broken the ice from the line or when it has melted.”
It was later confirmed that the type of ice which had formed on the wires was hoarfrost. This is a deposit of icy crystals which forms on objects that are exposed to the free air and continues to spread as more condensation freezes. This didn’t allow the ice breaker trams to gain any power from the overhead wires and thus no services could run.
Ticket acceptance was put in place with Lothian Buses while the temperatures rose and a normal service started to run again from shortly after 1000.