Cornbrook changes afoot

If you are a regular traveller on Manchester Metrolink or have been reading our news pages in recent weeks and months you can’t help but have noticed that there have been major problems at Cornbrook with points failures causing severe delays to services far too often. Manchester Metrolink have now released an official statement on their website ( to show passengers that they are aware there are problems and that they are attempting to solve them as soon as possible.

The blame on the problems at Cornbrook is said to be “as a result of the complexities of meshing the existing Metrolink network with the new technology required to speed up journeys and provide real time information to passengers.” Although extensive testing was undertaken before the system went live a number of unexpected issues have been experienced and it is these that have been causing problems for long suffering commuters.

To try and solve the problems a number of steps are being taken:

  • TfGM are working with Thales, MPT and MRDL to improve on how they react to issues in the area, to protect passengers from length spells of disruption.
  • A series of immediate, short-term changes are being made to the system to improve its reliability.
  • The failures are being investigated to identify the root cause(s) so that permanent solutions can be introduced.

Hopefully these steps will go a long way towards solving the Cornbrook problems and then in the long run Manchester Metrolink’s local reputation can be repaired.

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21 Responses to Cornbrook changes afoot

  1. Mike Norris says:

    Words fail me
    Is it just me or does it read like they have only just noticed ?
    Still no positive resolution either, its all Charlie Chaplin esque
    the points, the frozen wires, the new signalling, do these people
    have any idea on how to run Metrolink ?
    Promises ‘ to try ‘ and ‘hopefully will resolve’ are NOT good enough.
    Recently rode on Sheffield’s system – pure bliss !!

  2. Frank Gradwell says:

    What a joke.

    We don’t want better reactions to failures, we want a system that works, trams that run, with seats if possible, and with windows that open, so that when they do come to a grinding halt and sit there for an age like a not so mobile sauna, we don’t need to kick the windows out to breathe!

    It may have escaped the notice of Metrolink’s genius planners and their accomplices Thales, but the line out to Cornbrook used to accomodate four big grown up rail lines side by side.

    All that’s needed for improved flexibility is a bit more economy in space planning and not another exercise in how much space can your wiring run occupy!

  3. Mike Norris says:

    Seen on the City Centre Passengers Information boards during a recent Cornbrook resultant disruption (thats PID’s to those that know)

    ……..SEE FRONT OF TRAM………….

    Doesn’t that just confirm that if even Metrolink don’t know where there trams are going, what hope is there for the intending passengers !

  4. Colin Smith says:

    The ineptitude of Metrolink, TfGM and the various contractors involved is unbelievable. Only today passengers were left standing, uninformed, at Piccadilly Gardens tram stop. Okay, the incident did not result from Cornbrook problems. However, there is a link. Only yesterday the Metrolink Director was telling the world as part of the excuses for Cornbrook, that communication to passengers of disruptions would be improved. Not sure how long that should take, but the staff at Piccadilly Gardens this afternoon hadn’t got a clue. There was disruption to services through the Gardens stop because of a road traffic accident between there and Piccadilly station. The staff sent, first of all, Eccles line passengers to Market Street for diverted services. Five minutes later they also included Media City UK in their message. However, no trams were passing through to either Bury or Altrincham from Piccadilly. It only dawned on the staff, ten to fifteen minutes later, to advise the few passengers waiting for trams to these destinations that they too should walk to Market Street. We were not best pleased is, perhaps, this year’s understatement!

    • David Holt says:

      Come back Mosley Street tram stop! This kind of thing shows exactly why it should still be there.

    • Ken Walker says:

      How many times now has the Metrolink Director promised to improve communications during times of disruption? One of the main problems seems to be that the staff out on the ground appear to be (or think they are) only there for the purpose of checking tickets, most of them don’t seem to have a clue about the services that run through a particular stop. But it is nice to know that at long last TfGM have acknowledged that they have a problem with the infrastructure, although I dread to think how many more years it will take them to sort out the integration of the two signalling systems. Doesn’t look very professional at all, although it is questionable whether Metrolink or TfGM should take the blame for the fiasco.

  5. David Holt says:

    Proper on-sight tramway operation should cater for manual operation of points when necessary. It is the absence of that facility at Cornbrook which prevents the realisation of the full range of benefits which ought to be available from a system such as TMS – if it is fit for purpose and robust.

    • Freel07 says:

      In the context of overall performance this is probably a minor point, however the points off the Eccles Line at Cornbrook do have a manual setting facility. It may not be the normal tramway style point lever but they can certainly be manually operated if necessary.

      • David Holt says:

        Since day one, points in the city centre have been changed manually on frequent occasions to keep the service going. The same should be achievable at Cornbrook.

  6. Chris Davies says:

    I direct this to Ken Walker. You may think you know how the staff work they dont just stand there and think they have to check tickets. You always seem to make your own assumption on Metrolink staff. You need to get your head out of cloud cuckoo land and smell some coffee because staff do know which services run through specific stops however people are given information like yourself and just don’t listen correctly when you are told. So if you don’t like how the system operates I would strongly suggest you wapk instead be 1 mile or 9 miles.

    • Colin Smith says:

      You may well be right, Chris. However, my recent experiences contradict your assertion about the usefulness of information provided by the P.S.R.s

    • Ken Walker says:

      My comments are not made based on thinking or assuming I know things about the system, they are based on direct personal experiences, my dissatisfaction which which have been communicated to Metrolink. I do however assume that you were not standing behind me witnessing my experiences to qualify you to make your comments. On some of the occasions that I have asked questions the response has been a blank look that can only say ‘what are you asking me for?’. And as someone who in the past has had a similar job on the railway, and did my best to find out answers that I didn’t know, I think I’m in a reasonable position to know poor customer service when I see it. And as for walking – I have had to do that more than once courtesy of Metrolink.

    • David Holt says:

      This expression of support for paid staff seems to carry a strong hint of contempt for customers, which doesn’t smell as nice as coffee.

      • Ken Walker says:

        I think you meant to put a word like ‘unhelpful’ in front of ‘paid staff’ there David, as I’m sure that many will do their best to help! But in the case of the Aytoun Street incident, Mr. Davies seems to be implying that either Colin Smith’s posting on Wednesday is a work of fiction, or that the staff did know about the absence of Bury and Altrincham services but just didn’t bother to tell the passengers, some of whom may have been visitors to the city and not familiar with plan B. I can only suspect that he is a Metrolink employee.
        I found his comment about it being down to me ‘not listening to what I’m told’ quite amusing, as a large part of my job involves ‘safety critical’ work, where not listening can get somebody killed (never managed to do that, or fall below standard on assessments in 40 years)!
        The specific instances which have led to emailing Metrolink were (1) asking staff about the disruption and being told ‘I don’t know’ (and making no attempt to find out) – not much to ‘not listen to’ there: (2) attempting to use the customer information point at a stop for several minutes with nobody bothering to answer – ditto not much scope for misunderstanding: (3) finding inaccurate info on the website regarding alternative bus services – having checked the excellent bus timetable library on the TfGM website to check my facts, sent an email to Metrolink which after 3 weeks still has not had a reply, apart from the automated response.
        And for his information, smelling the coffee is the first thing I do after waking every morning, immediately prior to drinking it!

        • Colin Smith says:

          No fiction involved, I assure you. The sequence of events was: Eccles line passengers diverted by one of approximately four staff at Piccadilly Gardens, five or so minutes later same member of staff advises Media City UK passengers also to go to Market Street, then, after a further ten minutes one of the remaining passengers and I both asked at the same time about Bury and Altrincham services. So after waiting there for about twenty minutes we eventually all learned that no trams were running between Piccadilly and the Gardens. The whole time the Passenger Information Displays were announcing the arrival of trams. Just about as soon as we turned out of the Gardens into Mosley Street, the first tram passed going to Bury.

  7. The Eye says:

    I see the armchair engineers are out in force! May I suggest these views are kept for twitter and or the MEN website!

  8. nigel says:

    “The Eye”,

    Perhaps rather than cynical comments than that perhaps you personally would like to enlighten people as to the exact intracies as to how you would resolve the problem so that Manchester has a system that works. Please bear in mind that yet again Cornbrrok was being blamed for lack of Altrincham services this morning.

    • The Eye says:

      I live on and use the altrincham line everyday. Yes it’s annoying, but everybody seems to be blaming TfGM and their response. The implementation of ‘TMS’ lies purely with Thales. TfGM are the customer, much like your are theirs! Bare in mind that TMS should have been implemented across the system by now. Bare in mind that Croydon Tramlink opened over a YEAR late due to signalling problems supplied by… Thales.

      As an Electrical Engineer (not railway related), I’ve had experiences with Thales. The fact they are often refered to as ‘Thails’ may give you an insight!

      • Ken Walker says:

        From personal experience I know what you mean about Thales, couldn’t agree more.

        • Chris Davies says:


          I believe you don’t feel satisfied with the customer service at Metrolink, maybe you could suggest some ideas to them being an expert?? I do believe they try their best, ultimately in this world we live in not everyone can be pleased. Issues that do arise on the Metrolink system can be due to anything happening, operational problems, or police incident etc (But you would know this because you state you know a lot about the system) in the instance of the aytoun street problem this was due to a pedestrian falling next to the tracks something which was not a fault of Metrolink. I am glad you find my comment quite amusing :). I also did not state anywhere that Colin’s post on Wednesday was fiction (again quite funny to read) and lastly but not least you obviously relate to the majority of “Metrolink Staff as unhelpful” It wouldn’t surprise me much if this was case if they have to deal with people like yourself.

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