Passenger numbers continue to increase on Metrolink

Its been a while since we’ve been able to say 100% when talking about passenger numbers not only on Manchester Metrolink but any UK tramway but that’s precisely what we can say about Metrolink – albeit only on certain days of the week. The latest “Metrolink Service Performance Report” has revealed that 100% of pre-pandemic passenger numbers are being seen at times on the network which has led to the overall weekly figure being up at 85%.

Overall, it’s a bit of a mixed picture for passenger numbers. Morning and evening peaks on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are up at approximately 100% of pre-pandemic levels as are weekends (helped by people using Metrolink to get to major events in the region, including football matches which its said more people than ever are now using public transport for).  But outside of those periods patronage is still not reaching the levels that it once was with flexible working seemingly here to stay.

While these numbers are positive, they haven’t quite reached the weekly 90% figure reached in the final week of November. It had been expected that over the Christmas/New Year period things would reduce  (Christmas week itself was down to 54%) but taking away the festive period the weekly average has been at least 80% since the start of October.

Drilling down into the data more and commuter trip numbers across the full week have been estimated as being 88% of pre-pandemic levels during January 2023. (Patronage by line is provided at the end of the article).

KeolisAmey Metrolink have continued to review passenger numbers to see where additional capacity is needed and as a result of this two double units were reintroduced on the Airport line in both the morning and evening peaks. Work on reviewing levels across the network continues with a view to possibly increasing more peak capacities.

There has also been a slight deterioration in performance at the end of 2022/start of 2023 with two incidents specifically called out as being some of the causes. This caused the average operated mileage for the 12 month rolling period to fall to 98% (against the target of 99.4%)., with period 10 (11th December 2022-7th January 2023) the lowest four weeks operated mileage of the last 12 months at 96.7%.

Issues which caused the fall in performance including a derailment on Lower Mosley Street on 23rd November which meant no cross-city services via St Peter’s Square were able to run from mid-afternoon until 2000. Then on 14th December a signalling fault at Cornbrook impacted the network with services heading towards the city centre from the south side having to turn short. This delay was only in place for half an hour but its location caused wider spread disruption.

Tram availability has also continued to be an issue with period 10 seeing just 81.6% of the fleet available for service bringing the 12 month average down to 83.3%. There has been a continued high-level of anti-social behaviour which has resulted in six smashed glazing panels, seven smashed passenger doors and four vandalised interior panels. This has been caused a major impact on tram availability which vehicle having to spend a period off the road whilst it is repaired.

The report has also confirmed that there will be work taking place on both the Eccles and Bury lines over the summer, although no details are available of when this will take place as they remain in the planning stages. There is also smaller scale works taking place in March which includes a closure of 1CC, on the Rochdale Line and also a network wide closure early on Sunday 26th March.

Patronage by line (rolling by year)

Altrincham – 7.8m (pre-pandemic: 11.3m)

Bury – 5.5m (pre-pandemic: 8.2m)

Eccles – 3.8m (pre-pandemic: 6.2m)

Oldham & Rochdale – 4.5m (pre-pandemic: 6.4m)

East Didsbury – 4.4m (pre-pandemic: 6.0m)

Ashton – 2.1m (pre-pandemic: 2.8m)

Airport – 2.2m (pre-pandemic: 3.3m)

Trafford Park – 1.7m (pre-pandemic: it didn’t exist!)

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