It is becoming rather tiresome to report but Monday 4th November was another day to forget for Manchester Metrolink after delays were experienced on all lines because of ice on the overhead and then after that problem had been solved the troublesome points at Cornbrook failed again. The morning delays were due to severe frost on the overhead wires and because of extensive improvement works over the weekend Metrolink bosses had been unable to run their usual ice breaker trams to help clear the wires – if the frost had been forecast before the weekend they say they would have cancelled the works to enable them to run these trams.
A spokesperson from Transport for Greater Manchester is quoted in the Manchester Evening News: “ TfGM and Metrolink’s operator, MRDL, have a clearly defined set of operational procedures which are implemented in the event of icy conditions being forecast in areas served by Metrolink. This includes running ice breaker trams to keep the overhead power lines free from frost. This weekend, a package of essential engineering work and network improvements was scheduled to take place. MRDL receives detailed weather forecasts in order to prepare for any frosty conditions. If these forecasts suggest ice is a possibility, any work scheduled on the network can be cancelled. None was forecast ahead of the weekend, so the work went ahead. Once such work is under way, there are limited opportunities to cancel it in order to hand the lines back in a safe and suitable condition for operating trams, including ice breakers. Unfortunately on this occasion, by the time the frost forecast was received on Sunday evening, the work could not be stopped until it had been completed, which was in the early hours of Monday morning. This reduced the MRDL’s ability to run ice breaker trams, which in turn affected services, and we apologise for the disruption this caused.
Delays of at least 30 minutes were experienced on all lines whilst the problems were dealt with leading to many very unhappy passengers who were delayed on their commute to work on yet another Monday morning. In addition there were problems between Timperley and Altrincham because of Network Rail issues which were also said to be down to the frost.
And then if that wasn’t bad enough the points at Cornbrook then failed at approximately 1845 causing further problems. Engineers were quickly on the scene (they might as well stay there permanently the number of times they have to attend!) and the points were reset shortly after 1900. During the disruption no inbound services were able to operate whilst outbound trams were able to continue operating although at reduced speeds.