T68 1011 goes to meet its maker

History was made late on Saturday 21st September when the two sections of Manchester Metrolink T68 1011 was removed from Exchange Square, where it had been used as an obstacle for a motorbike trial, for transport to Booths in Rotherham – a scrap merchants. As you may remember 1011 had been stripped of all useful components at Trafford depot in the past few weeks and was also reliveried into the new Metrolink colours before being transported into the city centre for its important role in the Red Bull Trials.

Once 1011 had been used for this purpose and removed from Metrolink premises it was expected that its future would not be particularly rosy but the speed in which it was removed from Exchange Square to go for scrap was probably faster than anybody would have expected. In being taken away from Manchester it becomes the first second generation tram to be sent for scrap (having also been the first to be officially withdrawn), a mere 21 years after it entered service. 1011 had run for the last time on 18th April 2012 and has since undergone component recovery firstly at Queens Road Depot and then at Trafford Depot following transfer across the city.

All of the other withdrawn T68/T68As remain stored in Manchester although it is pretty unlikely that they will have any future other than for scrap value. It is still hoped that somewhere someone will try and preserve one of these trams which, although not the most attractive or practical trams for a Museum, have an important place in history being the
first of the new breed of trams in the UK.

Not exactly how you would have imagined 1011's last action to be in Manchester is it? Bikers leap over the split tram.

Half of 1011 leaves Manchester soil for the very last time as it is craned up for transport.

And gently she goes as it is lowered onto the waiting low loader for transport to Rotherham. (All photos: Steve Kemp)

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17 Responses to T68 1011 goes to meet its maker

  1. Clifford Stead says:

    Metrolink would be missing a trick by not keeping a T68 for future heritage use themselves, possibly for tours or special events! Look at the heritage operation in Blackpool. Many overseas tramways keep a heritage tram for special use, we did a wonderful tour of the Toronto system on a 1920`s tram a few years ago. Come on Metrolink, think outside the box! Maybe we could get one listed by English Heritage! Something I believe happened in Melbourne with its historic trams.

  2. David Mee says:

    A not particularly pleasant, but nevertheless inevitable milestone in the history of the UK’s second generation tramways is reached. As the pioneer class for the new tramway systems it is to be hoped that at least one T68 will escape the cutters torch. It should be remembered though that Manchesters light rail system continues to grow and expand, combined with the recent investments in the Blackpool, West Midlands, Nottingham and Sheffield systems these are exciting times. Looks like good news at last north of the border as well!

  3. Ken Walker says:

    1001 (first second generation tram to be delivered, on 30 August 1991) or 1007 (first T68 to enter service on the first day) would seem to be the most suitable candidates for preservation.

    • freel07 says:

      1007 wasn’t the first on the first day was it? It was certainly the first to run in passenger service on the street section though. I think the first trip on the Bury Line was worked by 1004 and 1008 coupled.

      Certainly there has been a suggestion that 1007 would make a suitable candidate. I guess it’s all down to finding somewhere to accommodate one. I am certainly not in favour of ‘listing’ one as I am a firm believer that those who wish to see something preserved should put the money up rather than saddling others with the cost of upkeep. You see too many buildings where the owners haver been left to carry the maintenance costs of something that they do want and cannot sell because it has been ‘listed’ by the authorities. I know that’s not a popular view.

      • Ken Walker says:

        I seem to remember that 1007 was selected to be the first tram to enter service because Manchester Corporation 1007 was the last ‘first generation’ tram to run in service. Perhaps my memory is playing tricks after 21 years

      • Ken Walker says:

        Just found it on the Railforum website and you are correct freel07. 1012 was the first to enter service, 1004+1008 were the first to operate in service as a pair, and 1007 operated the first public service in the city centre. I must check whether PC World sell human memory chips!

        • freel07 says:

          Whilst not wishing to be picky according to David Holt’s excellent book Manchester Metrolink (Platform 5 1992) 1012 left Victoria as 1004 and 1008 departed from Bury at 06:00. In my book that’s a dead heat!

          • Ken Walker says:

            I have the very book myself and as you say on page 90 it states 1012 from Victoria and 1004+1008 from Bury at 0600 on 6th April 1992. I don’t remember reading that! As you say it is an excellent publication

  4. Nigel Pennick says:

    Were they LED destinations, or printed stickers?

  5. Ken Walker says:

    Who paid for 1011 to be repainted for just 1 day? The taxpayer?

  6. Andrew says:

    1012 was the first tram in use on Metrolink – definitely not 1007, which, with its new seating, is the least typical T68 of all.

    • Ken Walker says:

      Whilst you are quite correct that 1007 was not the first tram to enter service, new seating does not preclude it from being preserved if it were historically significant for another reason. I’m sure it is possible to replace its new seating with seating from another withdrawn vehicle, as I believe has recently been done with the Blackpool heritage fleet. There are always ways and means!!

  7. Aidan Croft says:

    From what I remember from this very site Metrolink have preserved a tram for use in tours!!

    Kind regards,


    • freel07 says:

      I don’t recall seeing that. there was mention of 1025 being set aside for ice breaking duties last winter but it has now joined the others at Old Trafford. I also recall there being a mention of one being kept at Queens Road for initial driver training around the depot but I don’t think that ever happened.

    • The Eye says:

      Not as far as I’m aware!

  8. tram man says:

    1001 was initially withdrawn and used as a driver training vehicle around the depot at queens road.Now at old Trafford it still has the L-plates and driver training stickers on the windscreens.
    The problem with the remaining T68s is having enough drivers qualified to drive them.There have been instances where a T68 has turned up at the staff halt for a driver relief only to find the relieving driver is not trained on the T68.

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