Metrolink services start to East Didsbury

Shortly after 0500 on Thursday 23 May 3055 departed Victoria with the first passenger service to run to East Didsbury as the latest section of Manchester Metrolink opened. The line to East Didsbury is part of the South Manchester line and sees five new stops join the network bringing the total size of Manchester Metrolink to 45.6 miles (73.4km).

The first day of services saw healthy loads on services as both locals and enthusiasts wanted to enjoy the service for the first time. The service is fully in the hands of M5000s and sees trams run from Rochdale Railway Station to East Didsbury every 12 minutes Mondays to Saturdays and between 0900 and 1800 on Sundays and Bank Holidays (trams run every 15 minutes at all other times). Of interest is that some of the journeys on the line are operated by double M5000s at peak periods with splitting taking place at East Didsbury – is this the first time scheduled services on Manchester Metrolink have split during the day? This means that the Bury-Altrincham direct service is no longer the only route to see double trams operating on a regular basis (with the exception of the doubles used to Etihad Campus when Manchester City are playing).

The opening of the line has come several months ahead of schedule (opening was not due until the summer) a fact which Transport for Greater Manchester are rightly proud of (especially after the delays in opening of most of the other extensions previously opened). The next extensions expected to open is the line to Ashton with services due to commence in winter 2013/4. This will be followed by lines to Oldham and Rochdale town centres and Manchester Airport via Wythenshawe ahead of the hoped for Second City Crossing.

3055 prepares to depart East Didsbury with the first full length journey to Rochdale Railway Station at 0549. (Photo: Steve Hyde)

* A gallery of photos from the opening day of the South Manchester line to East Didsbury will be added to British Trams Online when time allows (apologies for the delay in the uploading of photo galleries currently which is being caused by work commitments)

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4 Responses to Metrolink services start to East Didsbury

  1. freel07 says:

    Its not the first time doubles have been split and made up in service. For a few years the Bury Altrincham doubles were split at Bury after the morning peak and made up again at the same location in the afternoon. A feature of the afternoon procedure was the regular operation of a triple set empty from Queens Road to Bury.

    It ceased when T68 coupler problems started to make it easier to form the doubles at Queens Road where engineering support could be provided if needed.

  2. Phil Hart says:

    At one time some T68A’s were coupled but for a very short period only as they became notoriously unreliable for some unknown reason.

    Even as singles they have been very unreliable. The reason that 2001 has done a lot less mileage that the others was that it was stored for a few years and had to have a complete re-wire after an incident at Piccadilly Delta when the emergency brake applied itself and the doors opened.

    The T68/T68As were built in Italy with the M5000s built in Vienna by German company Bombardier.

  3. Ralph Oakes-Garnett says:

    I noted on Thursday 23rd that all T68s were operating singly and the only T68A out was 2003 and along with T68s formed the whole service to Eccles.

  4. tram man says:

    yes you are right phil,the T68A’s were unreliable.They have always been a bit of a unknown quantity,even to the engineering staff at QRD.Everyone knows the problems with overheating in hot weather.They used to fall like nine pins in the early days on the eccles line.Things improved when they retro fitted the T68s with retractable couplers,fenders and bogie skirts.This took the pressure of the T68a,as they could run phase two on the bury/alt service.When they are working well,they are a more responsive vehicle to drive than a phase 1 and a better ride quality.One problem they suffered with,was corrosion to the underside and running gear,due to the amount of street running on the eccles line.

    Regarding 2001,without going into to much detail,it suffered like the rest of the phase two’s with ATS was while addressing this problem,that another problem with the dump valves constantly firing even while the vehicle was stationary appeared.As soon as progress was made on the fault,the vehicle was robbed for spare parts to keep the other phase two’s on the road.This situation went on for about five years,untill a decision was made to sort the problem out,with the help of a man from
    derby.It finally ran under its own steam on a test run to bury on the night of the 4th of march 2011.And as they say the rest is history.

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