The Manchester Metrolink T68A fleet was decimated over a nine day period in mid-November when three of the remaining four examples at Trafford Depot left on the back of a low loader for scrapping in Rotherham. 2006, 2002 and 2003 all made the trip across the Pennines as the programme to scrap the remaining, unclaimed T68/T68A fleet stepped up a gear.
First to depart was 2006 which left Manchester for the very last time on Monday 10th November. It had been delivered to Manchester in September 1999, entered service on 6th December 1999 and had a number of “claims to fame”, two of which came very early in its career. On 6th December 1999 it was used on the first day of services to Broadway and had the honour of carrying Prime Minister Tony Blair from Piccadilly to the opening ceremony at Salford Quays. Then when the line was extended from Broadway to Eccles (on 21st July 2000) it was used on the first public service. Its final major claim to fame is probably not one it would want to share as much as the first two as it became the first of the class to be withdrawn from service on 4th April 2013. The previous day it has suffered a minor heating cable fire at Exchange Quay and it was decided upon its return to Queens Road not to authorise repairs and its operating career was over.
Thursday 13th November saw 2002 make the trip to South Yorkshire following its spell in the workshops at Trafford for final component removal. Originally arriving in Manchester on 20th June 1999 this LRV was also used in service on the first day of operations to Broadway (6th December 1999) and then became the first T68 to be used in service on the Bury to Victoria line when on 29th January it operated a Bury-Timperley service. It also managed to operate as a coupled T68A unit on 14th May 2008 when, along with 2003, it was utilised on an Altrincham-G-Mex service following rioting in Manchester City Centre. This was the first recorded operation of a passenger service with coupled T68As. The vehicle was withdrawn from service on 24th April 2013.
Less than a week later, Wednesday 19th November to be precise, the third of the T68As to make the trip was on the back of a low loader; with 2003 the unlucky victim this time. Delivered to Manchester on 24th July 1999 as with the other two recent departees 2003 was used in service on the first day of the service to Broadway and in fact ran the first public working from Piccadilly to Broadway. As mentioned above it was involved in the first recorded coupled T68A passenger service on 14th May 2008 and was then withdrawn from service on Wednesday 30th April 2014 – one of the last two T68As to remain serviceable. It then became the last T68A to operate through the City Centre when it hauled 2001 (which had suffered a compressor fault) to Trafford Depot for storage and now it has departed for scrapping.
Trafford Depot is now the home of just 1007, 1020, 1023 and 2001 with the former of these having been secured for preservation at the Heaton Park Tramway. The others are still expected to be removed from Metrolink property soon. The other remaining T68 on Metrolink metals is 1003 which is at Queens Road Depot but this too is likely to leave soon with a move to the East Lancashire Railway for further storage ahead of its move to the Greater Manchester Fire Service training college.