Peter Cushing, Metrolink Director at Transport for Greater Manchester, has had to apologise to passengers again after more delays caused by ice on the overhead wires. As reported on these pages at the weekend Metrolink now have a dedicated ice-breaker tram – 1021 – which has been fitted with a modified pantograph for this very purpose and other trams are also being used to try and keep the overhead clear of ice but unfortunately problems were still experienced early on Tuesday 19th November with the Oldham and Rochdale line particularly affected having to be suspended for 90 minutes during the morning rush hour.
Mr Cushing said: “TfGM and Metrolink operator, MRDL, have a clearly defined set of operational procedures which are implemented in the event of icy conditions being forecast in the areas served by Metrolink. This includes running ice breaker trams to keep the overhead power lines free from frost. Because of the threat of icy conditions a fleet of ice breaker trams were dispatched across the network last night and worked through the night until the resumption of normal services this morning. However ice did reform on certain part of the network and this did result in some delays to services and a suspension on the Oldham/Rochdale line. Technicians were dispatched immediately and the line was cleared as quickly as possible, but there were some knock on delays as a result. We apologise for this and we are taking steps to address this issue.”
Metrolink do seem aware that the ongoing issues with the icy conditions are not going down well with regular travellers on the network and are attempting to try and solve the worst of the problems. Mr Cushing concludes: “These were unusual circumstances and a number of other operators including rail service providers also experienced delays. We are trialling a new Teflon-based coating on the overhead lines this week which has the potential to reduce icing issues and if successful will be applied across the network. We are also speaking with the tram manufacturers to see if we can further improve their tolerances to voltage fluctuations in icy conditions.”