Over the past few weeks there has been several more periods of disruption on the Manchester Metrolink due to tram failures, points failures…and ducks on the track! The Manchester Evening News ran stories on these periods of disruption making it all unwelcome publicity for the network, which is undergoing a major period of expansion.
The first incident in the period under review was on Thursday 5th April when a T68 failed at Woodlands Road just after 0900. This meant that services on the Bury line were cancelled whilst engineers moved the tram back to Queens Road Depot. As is usual in cases of tram failures Transport for Greater Manchester were very keen to point out that it was one of the older T68 trams which was the culprit and that they are in the process of replacing these (as reported last week the first has now been withdrawn).
Then on Saturday 7th April there was a points failure at Bury which caused services to be terminated at Whitefield. Passengers were advised to continue their journeys on local bus services.
A failed tram was the reason for more delays on Monday 9th April with a vehicle failing at Trafford Bar. The incident happened at around 1040 and caused a temporary suspension of services on both the South Manchester and Altrincham lines with tickets valid on bus services. Interestingly TfGM were not eager to point out that it was a T68 which had failed which might lead you to suspect it wasn’t!
The next time Metrolink hit the news was on Friday 13th April with more delays on the South Manchester line, but at least this time it was a rather novel reason given – ducks on the track! A family of ducks were discovered on the tracks at Chorlton which led to Metrolink services being suspended for 15 minutes whilst Metrolink staff rounded them up and removed from the vicinity. Unfortunately the ducks seemed to like the area as they returned later the same evening when they were again removed, this time to the safety of Sale Water Park.
The T68s were making the headlines again on Wednesday 18th April – coincidentally the last day of operation for the complete T68 fleet with 1011 being withdrawn at the end of the day – when a failure at Piccadilly Gardens caused disruption to all routes through the City Centre from around 0730.
It is hoped that now a start has been made on retiring the first 12 T68s from service that stories such as those covered in this report will become a thing of the past and that Metrolink can settle down to a period of reliable operation.