Manchester Metrolink Performance Update

The latest statistics of Manchester Metrolink have been released giving details on the performance of the service, any major incidents, trams out of service and the number of complaints received. The latest document concentrates on periods 5, 6 and 7 (Monday 19th August to Sunday 10th November) and a summary of this is provided below. Of note is that the well documented problems experienced in period 7 (Cornbrook issues and ice on the overhead) are discussed with an update of what has been done to try and solve these given.


Performance as measured by Operated Mileage increased from 97.54% in period 4 to 98.42% in period 5, to 98.74% in period 6 and then (incredibly considering the problems experienced) up to 98.82% in period 7. Vehicle reliability has been improving and this is the reason given for the increase in period 7 despite the problems seen at Cornbrook all too frequently during that four week period.

Major Incidents

These are incidents which caused delays of more than 30 minutes and impacted on performance.

21st August: Axle counter at Cornbrook failed at 1853. Services between Cornbrook and MediaCityUK were suspended and trams ran a shuttle service between MediaCityUK and Eccles. The axle counter was reset at 2020 and services resumed.

28th August: An alarm was activated at Cornbrook at 1809 due to driver error. Trams to Altrincham, East Didsbury, MediaCityUK and Eccles were suspended until 1900 when the incident was resolved.

2nd September: Service was suspended between Piccadilly and Clayton Hall at 1034 after a car drove onto the track at Holt Town. The car was removed at 1202 and after inspections the service was able to resume.

6th September: A T68 failed at Langworthy due to an electrical fault at 0746. Trams were suspended between MediaCityUK and Eccles until the tram was moved at 0833 when normal services resumed.

8th September: The overhead was de-energised at 2248 at the request of the fire service due to an abandoned car on fire east of Holt Town stop. The fire was extinguished and trams were able to resume at 2341.

11th September: Services were suspended between Altrincham and Timperley at 1650 due to a cracked rail near Deansgate Junction. At 1933 Network Rail and Metrolink engineers decided outbound trams could resume as normal but that inbound services should operate to an emergency speed restriction of 20mph.

12th September: The SPAS lights activated at Cornbrook at 0842. Services on the Altrincham, Eccles and East Didsbury lines were suspended at 0855. Services resumed at 0945 under hand signalman instruction until the axle counter could be reset at 1038 which enabled normal operations to resume.

23rd September: A loss of power between Trafford Depot and St Werburgh’s Road led to the service being suspended at 2232. Efforts to arrange a replacement bus service were unsuccessful (because no bus companies answered their phones!) and so Taxis were requested for anyone who needed them instead. Power was not able to be returned until 0100.

28th September: A Network Rail signaling fault was reported between Altrincham and Navigation Road at 1436 which meant Metrolink services were turned at Navigation Road. Normal services resumed at 1532.

7th October: A double M5000 failed at 1510 on the single line section at Newbold with a traction fault. Services were turned at Oldham Mumps whilst the vehicle was moved. Normal operations resumed at 1635.

21st October: Cornbrook Junction failed at 0639 and was reset a number of times causing severe disruption across the network. The junction was successfully reset at 0810.

22nd October: The conflict monitor at Newbold activated at 0755. Trams to Rochdale were turned short at Oldham Mumps until 0849 when normal services resumed.

1st November: All signals between Victoria and Bury failed at 0716. Trams were having to pass signals at danger at reduced speed leading to delays. The fault was fixed at 0748.

4th November: Intermittent failures of Cornbrook Junction caused severe disruption again. This was compounded at 0614 by the Network Rail points at Timperley failing, which was not fixed until 1317.

4th November: A M5000 failed at Prestwich with a traction fault at 1600. The vehicle was unable to be moved until 1650 due to technical problems and it moved at low speed to Bury. Services resumed at 1702.


3013 remained out of service through all periods. Repair work is continuing and it is estimated it will be completed by late January 2014.

3043 was badly damaged in a road traffic accident on the new section to Ashton-under-Lyne in period 7. Repairs have been made and the tram is already back in service.


Service disruption again accounted for the majority of complaints which explains these figures: 342 in period 4, 479 in period 6 and 860 in period 7 (the latter period saw 72% of all complaints made because of service disruption).

36 commendations were received over the three periods.


Patronage including estimated concessions in October was 2.6 million passenger journeys – 116,000 above budget but 329,000 ahead of October 2012.


The new signaling system, which had been commissioned in July, caused numerous problems during period 7 with frequent failures relating to the axle counters used to detect tram movements and set the direction of the points. Many of these problems occurred in the morning and evening rush hours and impacting badly on passengers who then took to the internet to express their anger at their service which led to a lot of negative publicity for Metrolink.

The root cause of the problems has still not been fully identified but several changes have been made to the system including the replacement of components and improvements to the electrical installation. These have had a positive effect and further investigations into the root causes have been ongoing.

Ice on the overhead

4th November saw the first instances of ice on the overhead line with the Oldham Rochdale line particularly badly affected. As a result of problems experienced during period 7 MRDL have changed various procedures to enable improved “ice-breaking” performance in future. This has included five trams fitted with modified pantographs.

* The full report can be downloaded from the TfGM Committees website at

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3 Responses to Manchester Metrolink Performance Update

  1. tram man says:

    Ref the last paragraph about ice breakers.All the M5000 ice breaker carbons have now been removed.This was after a driver reported the overhead line shaking violently.The tram was withdrawn from service and the pan carbon inspected.As far as I know they found the copper strip breaking away from the carbon.The other four vehicles were checked the next day and found the same problem.All vehicles have now had the original carbons re-fitted.In the days before the M5000,they tested a ice breaker carbon on the T68.The procedure then was to fetch the vehicle back into the workshop after a ice breaker run,then remove the ice breaker pan and refit normal carbons.

  2. Clifford Stead says:

    I`m lead to believe that the remaining T68 trams are to be withdrawn tomorrow after service due to the new timetable on Wednesday 18th December.

    • Ken Walker says:

      What new timetable? There’s no mention of a new timetable on the Metrolink or TfGM websites, in fact the Metrolink website states that there will be additional double trams running up to 2nd January, which I would have thought would need every available vehicle, old and new.

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