One out, two in as Metrolink prepares to shake it all about!

The T68 fleet of Manchester Metrolink has decreased further by one following the withdrawal of 1003. The unique liveried vehicle was withdrawn on 12th November having been stopped exactly a week earlier after suffering a traction motor flashover. This now means that 16 of the original 26 T68 fleet have been withdrawn from service although one of those already withdrawn has found another use.

The tram to find another use? Well that is 1021 – withdrawn on 5th November – which has now been fitted with the modified ice-breaker pantograph as carried by 1025 briefly earlier in 2013. As a result 1021 remains fully intact at Queens Road Depot and although it will not be carrying passengers again it is fully operational and will be used for ice-breaking duties during the winter 2013/14 period.

Back to 1003 and this tram has already been moved to Trafford Depot and has taken its place in the ever increasing scrap line there. Of course this vehicle is the only T68 to carry passengers in the Yellow and Silver livery having been reliveried when it received special adverts for Manchester’s Christmas Markets and retained the livery when these expired and were replaced with designs for the Imperial War Museum North.

Just ten of the T68 are now available for service alongside 2001 and 2003 from the T68A fleet, a far cry from their glory days when they ruled the roost on Manchester Metrolink. It is still expected that there will be several more withdrawals by the end of this year and these may well be accelerated in the coming weeks when some major allocation and diagram changes are made. This will see more trams running from Trafford Depot and we will bring you further details when this is confirmed.

Although we have seen 1003 withdrawn this week the total fleet size of Metrolink has actually grown by one as two further M5000s have been commissioned for service. The trams in question are 3073 and 3074 which have joined the non-ATS fitted fleet for use on the Eccles and MediaCityUK services. Both carried their first passengers on Thursday 14th November and in doing so became the 100th and 101st LRVs to operate during Manchester Metrolink’s 21 year history.

Saturday 16th November saw the latest M5000 to arrive from Germany with 3076 being delivered to Queens Road Depot. The LRV is now awaiting commissioning and mileage accumulation trials. The previous delivery – 3075 – remains at Queens Road having undergone this work.

Meanwhile the testing on the Rochdale railway station extension has been stepped up with five M5000s currently outbased at Rochdale for this purpose: 3068, 3069, 3070, 3071 and 3074.

1003 in its Yellow and Silver livery moves through Piccadilly Gardens whilst operating as a pair with 1026 on the Bury-Altrincham service on 20th September 2012. (Photo: Gareth Prior)


One of two remaining T68As to be in service in 2003. It is seen here at Abraham Moss before being replaced by 1009 and 1012 on 16th November. (Photo: Steve Kemp)

3076 is delivered to Queens Road Depot on 16th November and waits to be unloaded. (Photo: Steve Kemp)

Some trams have received special Christmas vinyls, one of which is 3052. It is seen here with penguins taking a ride - I'm sure there must be something in the byelaws about that! (Photo: Steve Kemp)


The other end of 3052 even has Polar Bears taking a ride! (Photo: Steve Kemp)

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12 Responses to One out, two in as Metrolink prepares to shake it all about!

  1. tram man says:

    Regarding 1021 being used as an ice breaker.Thats going to be one busy tram this winter.Are they going to use it on the Rochdale line, or are metrolink sticking to their ruling of not using T68’s on the new sections of track.It seems to me that when they converted the Rochdale line,T.F.G.M have not put any measures in place to cope with the extremes of weather they get up there.If the problems they have had so far is anything to go by,i feel sorry for the people of Oldham/Rochdale.
    It reminds me of the problem they had with the delta junction points in the bad winter of 2010.When the original track was laid in 1991 all the points had point heaters.When they did the track renewals in the city centre they didn’t install point heaters,so they had the p-way department out everynight with anti-freeze clearing the points.Thats progress for you.

    • Ken Walker says:

      I think the T68/68As are banned from running adjacent to the Network Rail infrastructure between Central Park and Newton Heath & Moston due to possible interference with NR signalling so it looks as though the people of Oldham and Rochdale will be left out in the cold, in more ways than one!

      • freel07 says:

        No as Ken says T68/68As are not approved for use beyond Central Park but they also have ice breaker pantograph heads for a couple of M5000s to allow their use on lines where T68s cannot go.

        • Ken Walker says:

          I presume that as well as using trams with an icebreaker pantograph to clear ice from the wires they can also run trams during the night to try to minimise the risk of ice forming in the first place.

      • Lee Stanford says:

        Not being an expert but what prevents the T68 trams running next to the Network rail area around Central Park when they have run next to Network rail tracks at Altrincham for 20 years?

  2. tram man says:

    Yes Ken that would be the ideal answer,but now the system has got that big, the logistics of finding enough drivers to work nights is probably a none starter.Plus from an engineering point of view when a vehicle has been used on a ice breaker,the procedure is that the vehicle has to come into the workshop on a roof access road and the pan carbon has to be inspected.Again the logistics in doing this especially at queens road while vehicles are going of the depot is a nightmare.
    Of course when we just had the Altrincham and bury line,some drivers signed on a hour early and took the first tram out as a ice breaker.Then they decided to run a double unit as a ice breaker.The logic behind this was that the first unit would scrape the ice,then the second unit would be able to take power and propel the leading unit and keep the momemtum going.As far as I know they tried this on the Oldham line last week,the first double unit failed so the sent another double unit up there and that one failed.So I do really fell sorry for the people of Oldham and Rochdale.No doubt metrolink will get the blame again for something they have had no control over.

  3. Ken Walker says:

    Looks like you are right Tram Man. Frosty morning today and Rochdale / Oldham service suspended again early this morning and now running with severe delays. At least they’ve taken the trouble to get the bus info right this time which is an improvement!

  4. Ralph Oakes-Garnett says:

    Yes a bit of a problem on the Altringham line mid morning but the Ashton-Bury managed to keep fairly reliable. Very busy standing loads on every tram used.

  5. Mike Norris says:

    Noted on tonights BBC Look North,
    the hoped for media coverage about todays early morning delays
    to services Oldham/Rochdale and the start of calls for management resignation.
    Keep at it – the BBC

  6. TM says:

    DLR 11 was the first LRV to operate in Manchester during 1987…

    • Ken Walker says:

      Yes – temporarily converted to run off overhead power, running on a section of railway line in the Reddish area with power provided by a class 303 EMU power car which I think was used to convert the power from 25kv AC supply on the Manchester – Hadfield line to the required DC supply. Didn’t get a chance to ride on it unfortunately.

  7. Mike Norris says:

    You are Correct ! T M
    DLR 11 ran with passengers ( by ticketed invitation – only)
    I still have the souvenir ticket.
    Cor, No Ice, No Delta points, No Cornbrook, No Irk Valley points
    little, very little did we know !!

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