London Trams strikes over – but service now disrupted by wheel damage

Article updated 10/05/2024 with details of further service changes

The first of two planned strikes by Unite the Union members at London Trams is now over which should have meant that as from Thursday 9th May a normal service resumed across the network. However, that has not been the case as there have been severe delays with trams suffering from damage to their wheels.

This is not the first time that London Trams services have been affected by wheel damage and similar to last time the blame has been put on objects on the line. However, TfL have ruled out vandalism. Around 12 trams are said to have received the damage, and obviously with the strike having been in place repairs have been delayed.

A brief statement on the TfL website says: “Services are severely disrupted while we repair the damage. Disruption to normal services is likely to continue through the weekend of 11-12 May and beyond.”

This severe disruption on Thursday 9th May meant that there was no service through central Croydon or to any of the eastern termini at Beckenham Junction, Elmers End and New Addington. The only service being run was from Wimbledon to Reeves Corner with the TfL website again saying that a good service was operating on this line, its just you couldn’t continue your journey any further than that by tram.

Local bus services are having their services boosted during this disruption.

The question which will come from all of this is just why are the wheels suffering such significant damage due to unknown objects on the line?

Update 10/05/2024

To allow extra time to complete the repairs services will only run between 0700 and 1900 on Friday 10th, Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th May.

From Friday 10th May services were operating from Wimbledon through to East Croydon.

From Monday 13th May services are due to start running from Wimbledon to Beckenham Junction.

Currently no services are planned to operate to either Elmers End or New Addington.

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2 Responses to London Trams strikes over – but service now disrupted by wheel damage

  1. H says:

    I haven’t had a visit to Croydon for some time, but on previous occasions I had noted the poor state of the embedded rail sections of the track

    This chimes with the major failures in the first Manchester on street sections and the process of progressive projects with the same JV core team eventually delivered some very impressive and lasting detail

    Sheffield has also suffered and required remedial work, and Edinburgh has evidence that the destruction of 200 years of compaction along the streets between Haymarket and South St Andrew Street was not ‘proved’ for construction is clear from having almost every load transfer joint between 4-5m long upper track slab sections cracked and patch repaired, plus the later addition of concrete shoulders (as the idea of tarmac (a flexible pavement) not separating from the steel and rubber of the rails, or remaining with a safe and compliant transverse profile was an optimistic specification that had to be quickly changed before the tracks were opened. It still remains poor, as does the deterioration of the abutting carriageway pavement, where ironwork is continually sinking and breaking out from the tarmac, and steel road plates have been in some places for up to a year. One section of Princes Street has sunk by around 6″. The ground conditions are notorious as it is effectively a raised beach of clay and gravels on a base of fractured shale, which created problems when the tunnel under Scotland Street was built up to Canal Street Station (now part of Waverley)
    Only when I spent time working with HMRI of refining the detail of 1870 Tramways Act to deliver the first phase of NET in Nottingham did we get a system that seems to have remained in a good state for over 20 years, and we drew up the diagram used in ORR handbook
    This was certainly taken on board by Manchester when building Cross Street, where the sub grade was tested for bearing capacity (CBR) and cohesion (Vane Test) before the track slab was laid. The neat rubber infill system also delivered final pours without having to clean concrete out of the grooves in Ri59/Ri60 profiles and provides a screeding ‘bead’ that consistently delivered the abutting concrete 2mm above the Trelleborg ‘boot’ around the rails
    Much more to write up on associated issues, the 5 mechanisms for losing control of a cycle tyre crossing embedded rails, how the VeloSTRAIL system sorts this out but only for standard BR113A Vignoles section (and not grooved rails) plus grass track – where its been done well, and where its been messed up (including the design change at Snow Hill where the original sleepers in ballast on the floating viaduct, got changed to a concrete slab track, and then required 8 movement joints added to the design with all the palaver of installing these – I could write a book of that!)
    Anyway a load of images for various UK sites and observations/experiences from 60 years of working in engineering & transport to eventually write down

  2. H says:

    PS on a visit shortly after Roger de Klerk was killed after falling on the rails at Cherry Orchard Road, and then being run over by the driver of the bus following behind him I did have a walk round with the cycling officer & we noted the cracked & moving rails on the tight turn on the way up from West Croydon Station

    Would be very interesting to know more about the wheel damage especially noting the profiles of various tyres on the different tram systems and their wear performance, and the report from Manchester University on wheel wear/flange climbing, especially the significant difference in back to back measurements between ‘tram’ tyres and ‘rail’ tyres with the ‘special’ inner face profiles and extended check rails used where trams and trains share tracks

    It might also be handy to fill in my spreadsheet on tram ‘derailments’ after collisions with road vehicles, and the ease of or resistance to ‘excursions’ from the rails, perhaps starting with the fatal crash in Croydon from 2008 involving a bus and a tram which sent the tram away down the hill and the bus crashing into a shop, where a passenger was ejected through the toughened (but not laminated) glass of the side windows and died – in an eerie preview of the cause of many of the deaths in the 2016 Sandilands crash

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