TMS commissioned through Cornbrook

After a couple of weekends of commissioning work trams through the Cornbrook area of Manchester Metrolink are now operating under TMS (Tram Management System and not Tramway Museum Society or even Test Match Special!) which means services now run using line of sight operation rather than strict block signalling.

TMS is now in control of services from Corporation Street in the north of the city and Droylsden in the east through to Eccles/MediaCityUK and Trafford Bar in the south. The line from Irk Valley on the Bury line to Rochdale is under interim TMS control once it leaves Irk Valley Junction.

Anyone who has travelled on Manchester Metrolink on the stretch from Cornbrook in recent months will be aware that it has often been a frustrating journey with fairly lengthy waits at signals waiting for the signals to allow trams to proceed. With TMS now in action these long waits should be a thing of the past as more than one tram is now permitted to access the platforms at Cornbrook at one time. As part of the TMS commissioning works a speed restriction of 30mph has put in place along the viaduct due to sighting issues but this isn’t expected to impact on services too much.

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18 Responses to TMS commissioned through Cornbrook

  1. Michael says:

    Are there any national regulations about how far trams on UK systems need to be apart when in traffic? I have seen one tram pull up behind another at stops in Manchester yet Blackpool insists on one tram not leaving a stop until a previous tram has cleared the stop in front. This of course would have been totally impracticable in the days when up to sixty trams were out on the Promenade at once.

    • freel07 says:

      The simple answer is no there are no national regulations and as trams are generally driven on line of sight there should be no need to have a restriction such as the one you mention in Blackpool. I’m sure I have seen trams running much closer together in Blackpool than such a rule would allow. In fact I cannot imagine how that would work as in many locations drivers cannot see from one stop to the next. Multiple occupation of platforms is quite commonplace on Metrolink.

      • Michael says:

        It is not an invariable rule at Blackpool for a tram not to leave a stop until the stop in front has been cleared. An example of where this doesn’t happen is where a soutbound tram will wait on the curve at Starr Gate if another tram is at the soutbound platform at the terminus. There are other examples as well. I seem to recollect an instruction at one time to drivers to leave a distance of five traction poles between stationary cars. Again, this was not a hard and fast rule. In practice, however, on most occasions a tram will not leave a stop if the car in front is at the next stop and is within sight of the driver. This system of working pre-dates the upgrade and presumably is the result of accidents.

        • Ken Walker says:

          The ‘5 traction pole’ rule certainly goes back a few years but there was no reason given that I know of.x I can’t see it being because the old trams needed 5 pole lengths to stop though, it would have been heaven help any pedestrians who got in the way if that was the case. Maybe they needed the rule when the Coronations were in service, given their apparent reputation for intermittent brake failure!

          • Michael says:

            The ‘5 traction pole’ rule came in well after the Coronations were taken out of service as a class. In relatively recent times during the Illuminations, when up to sixty trams could be in service at any one time on Saturday evenings, it was not uncommon for half a dozen or more trams to be stationary at stops one behind the other. Bispham was a prime location for this. The rule was certainly not applied then. It does seem to have been introduced since ‘elf n safety’ was leashed upon us!

          • Ken Walker says:

            Michael I Know the Coronations had well gone when the 5 pole rule came in, I think it was in the late 90s, I just meant to say that maybe they could have done with the rule when the Coronations were in service, as I believe drivers sometimes found that when they applied the brakes nothing happened, but the next time they applied them the brakes worked as if nothing had ever been wrong. I saw a retired Blackpool tram driver explaining it on a TV program, I think it was the Salvage Squad one.

  2. tram man says:

    The only problem I can see with having too many vehicles in one section,is the overload on the overhead line.I know metrolink suffered this problem when they used to run seven T68 doubles all day.When there was too many doubles in one section all taking power at the same time,it used to take out the overhead.The control room used to try and regulate the doubles to stop this happening,usually by telling the drivers to only go for half power or telling one driver to wait at a particular station,while the tram in front had cleared the next section.

    • freel07 says:

      Part of the upgrades have been some further strengthening of the power supply particularly on the Bury Line and around Trafford Bar to help cope with up to 9 doubles when sufficient trams can be made available.

  3. Mike Norris says:

    So, the tram drivers can now drive through Cornbrook on line of sight.
    Pity the passengers there still cannot ‘See’ when the next tram is coming
    as the passenger information boards are still not working !

    • Colin Smith says:

      When did you last look. The passenger information displays were working on Friday 26th.

    • freel07 says:

      Yes Mike the PIDS were all switched on at Cornbrook when it went over to line of sight last Monday (22nd July). They rely on the TMS system for their info.

  4. James Jones says:

    The PID’s were not working yesterday which is quite typical on Metrolink when an amended service is running. In general the information can be quite poor, for example at Exchange Quay on a Sunday Eccles trams are announced as Media City and not Eccles via Media City. On Saturday when Eccles trams ran through to Droylsden only Piccadilly was displayed on all PIDs on the Eccles line and in the City Centre too!

  5. Mike Norris says:

    Thanks then to Colin, Free107 and James for input.
    Is my understanding then that when all is well and the service running
    to the prescribed 12 frequency on each service leg, the PID’s work.
    However, when there are no trams running through the system on their
    TMS system, the PID’s go down, additionally when a non standard service
    ie that of the last two weekends, is operating, they also go down or display incorrect information.
    If this is the case then they are just like those on National Rail, which are
    simply cyclic and unless information is added by a human controller
    your train which is 15 minutes late, is according to those PID’s ‘ Now
    arrived ”
    There must be a better way, somewhere
    (PS-I travel to & from Christies regularly and just want to know when the
    tram arrives at Cornbrook from Didsbury if there is a Bury tram or not)

    • freel07 says:

      Can’t speak for the National Rail signs but the Metrolink ones will give full real time info continuously updated as long as the system is running to a previously loaded timetable. The problem on the weekends when engineering works are in progress is that it seems that although Metrolink have an amended timetable it only exists on paper and nobody loads an electronic copy onto TMS.

      The block signalled areas still don’t have working signs simply because TMS is needed to feed them the info.

  6. Ken Walker says:

    Another fatality on the Rochdale line tonight according to TfGM website. Services suspended 1700-1930 after a pensioner walked off the platform and into the path of an approaching tram at Freehold. It doesn’t say whether or not it was a deliberate act by the pensioner. Someone mentioned on Facebook that there were 7 ambulances at the scene.

    • Ken Walker says:

      And another Rochdale service in the wars this lunchtime with yet ANOTHER car / tram (3040) collision on Mosley Street. From the photos on the Manchester Evening News website it’s clear who was at fault and it ain’t the tram driver. Maybe the most surprising thing is that the car appears not to have been a taxi!
      What is it about these car drivers who can’t see an approaching tram from a distance of a few yards? I thought the ends were painted yellow to make them more visible!

  7. James Jones says:

    Dear Ken Walker,
    What have your last two comments go to do with TMS @ Cornbrook?

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