Further examples of the M5000 trams on Manchester Metrolink have entered service in recent weeks following the fitting of equipment enabling them to operate on the current system but despite rumours of the demise of the first of the T68s they are all still available for service with no withdrawals confirmed as yet.
On the M5000 front there are now 23 fitted with the ATS equipment with 3001-3021 and 3024 now all available for use on the current Metrolink network. More of these trams have been fitted with the equipment in recent weeks to allow more double units to operate on the Bury-Altrincham direct route during peak times (although all double units to operate have to be made up of T68s and T68As as they have retractable steps for use at Mosley Street). Although there are now 22 M5000s fitted with the ATS equipment 3001 has recently been moved to Old Trafford for work and is not currently available for service.
Deliveries continue at around fortnightly intervals of further M5000s with trams up to 3050 now having been delivered to Manchester.
The T68s continue to solider on in service although the past week has seen at least one more failure with the official Transport for Greater Manchester twitter feed very eager to point out it was one of the original trams and claiming that they are on average four times more likely to fail than one of the new M5000 vehicles. It is expected that the first withdrawal(s) will occur in the coming weeks and months but at the time of writing none have yet been sidelined. But if you eager to see and ride some members of the original fleet you are advised not to leave it too long!
The current status of the M5000s is:
Queens Road depot: 3002-3021 & 3024 (ATS fitted and serviceable), 3025 (stored)
Old Trafford depot: 3001 (works), 3022, 3023, 3026-3050 (stored)