Tragedy in Manchester city centre after man dies following tram collision

A man has died after being involved in a collision with a tram in Manchester city centre. The incident happened at approximately 1815 on Saturday 11th January at the junction of Market Street and High Street with eyewitness reports saying that the man was trapped under the tram.

Witnesses on the scene reported that the man was hit by the tram and then dragged underneath the vehicle – M5000 3037 – with some suggesting he was trapped underneath the centre of the tram. Although the man was initially responsive to people who had gone to his aid he quickly lost consciousness and tragically was pronounced dead.

At times following tragic incidents like this it seems to be of secondary concern but obviously Manchester Metrolink services were severely disrupted as a result. No trams were able to run between Victoria and Piccadilly until 2145 and all other routes were also reporting severe delays with LRVs and drivers presumably out of place.

Our thoughts go out to all those affected by this incident and it should be remembered that although obviously a tragic incident they do occur very rarely.

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33 Responses to Tragedy in Manchester city centre after man dies following tram collision

  1. Ralph Oakes-Garnett says:

    This is a terrible tragedy. I have seen a number of near misses at this junction. I just wonder whether there is some way the track can be screened off on the corner of Market Street and High Street. People tend to cross from the pedestrianised side of Market Street onto either side of the tramway. Those crossing on to the Debenhams side having to cross the track right on the bend.

    • Ken Walker says:

      Yes I’m afraid this was an accident waiting to happen at this location, given the degree of negligence shown by large numbers of pedestrians with regard to their own safety. I don’t envy the Metrolink drivers their job in the city centre. From what I’ve seen in other countries this negligence by pedestrians seems to be unique to the UK. Having said that, of course we don’t know whether that was the case here, and sympathies are due to those who have been bereaved as a result of this incident, along with the driver and those unfortunate enough to have witnessed it.

  2. Howard Piltz says:

    From personal observation since the opening of the original line, I fear there is a problem with the training of drivers who seem to believe they have absolute priority over all other vehicles and pedestrians, and I have photographic evidence to support this. A little humility might had a bearing on this tragic incident.

  3. Freel07 says:

    A very sad accident. Whilst not in any prejudging the reason behind the tragedy I would suggest from personal observation that one cause of the problems here is that most pedestrians totally ignore both of the signalised crossings. Barriers may well help to funnel people to the crossings but they also have the hazard that people can get trapped on the wrong side with no escape. I am not sure there is an easy right answer.

    • Monopodmansdad says:

      Could the trams be more audible around the city centre. Some sort of constant warning noise but not as bad as a reversing warning on a large vehicle. The trams are so quiet and the background noise of a city is greater.

  4. Nigel Pennick says:

    Indeed it is tragic. Accidents happen all the time and people are killed by all kinds of moving vehicles, but the media for some reason concentrates upon those who are in contact with ail vehicles, and every incident is reported, but accidents involving cars, taxis, buses and trucks are not national news.

  5. Nigel Pennick says:

    rail vehicles

  6. John Stewart says:

    From limited observation in High Street, Market Street and Piccadilly Gardens I can certainly confirm the heedless wandering pedestrian scenario. I know that kerbs are out of fashion in pedestrianised areas but they do give a constant reminder of the change between absolute and limited pedestrian priority. Buses are on the “downhill” side of kerbs; trams are on the level and are quieter than the ambient noise level. If kerbing is considered too drastic, perhaps a boldly-coloured rumble strip might give the subliminal reminder that there is a priority change ahead. A one metre rough ride for wheelchair users might be justifiable for the wider public safety benefits.

    The suggestion that drivers show “a little humility” might well be counter-productive if it engenders a belief that trams go so slowly in this central area that they will always stop for any pedestrian. I have in mind that situation on some heritage railways where instructions for locomotive drivers to stop and proceed at certain level crosssings become widely known and just encourages car drivers to ignore their own “Stop” sign.

  7. John Gilbert says:

    It is VERY tragic, but many commentators have spoken of the carelessness shown by pedestrians. It would be instructive to see how many accidents between trams and pedestrians there are in – say – a German or French city. People just must be more careful and not, effectively, play “Last man across.”

  8. tram man says:

    Indeed a tragic accident.A sad time for his family so soon in the new year.The drivers need eyes in the back of their head at this particular location.They have cars approaching from their left on fountain street plus the pelican crossing,which nobody takes a blind bit of notice off.Once pedestrians have commited themselves to cross,they find themselves stranded between the tram and cars on the smallest bit of pavement.

    Also whilst this incident was ongoing ,metrolink were also dealing with the football crowds at old Trafford,as it was a 1730 kick off.So their staff were pretty stretched.We must also remember the metrolink staff who along with the emergency services, had the unpleasant task of extricating this poor man from under the tram.

  9. David Holt says:

    In the 1980s, as LRTA Development Officer, I was asked to help counter quite strong opposition to Manchester’s light rail proposals. One of the arguments I used to successfully do so was that trams are safe. Then Metrolink was deliberately implemented as a “railway”, with “trains” running on it. Example quotes by the Project Manager: “The maximum speed of the train through the city centre is 50 kph.” and “The swept path of the railway . . . has to be defined by kerbs, changes in paving, white lines etc.” So what can you expect? Other things being equal (people texting, running, dodging other pedestrians, dodging cycles, etc – things that will always happen, normal inevitable human behaviour) the monumentally clueless and deliberate imposition of trains-in-the-street when trams were promised has made me a liar and a false prophet, and cannot be ignored as one probable causal factor of all the tragic incidents which have marred this well-conceived but shabbily-implemented transport system since day one. Trams stop, trains don’t.

    • David Butterworth says:

      True- the vehicles were referred to as ‘trains’ when the first routes opened in 1992. However the term ‘tram’ soon replaced ‘train’ on the tannoy systems on the trams. Surely ‘tram’
      is the correct description-a railed vehicle which runs along the street, so I fail to get the point with the writer’s comment about a ‘shabbily implemented’ system.
      Trams in Blackpool are similar – LRVs which have right of way; accidents to pedestrians happen there, including fatalities. It is the responsibility of pedestrians to be careful as the tram cannot stop ‘on a sixpence’. This was an unfortunate accident, but I don’t think that the driver of the tram was to blame. (I did not witness the event so these are purely my personal thoughts on the matter).

      • Ken Walker says:

        I too am sure the driver would have done all he could to run safely. The tram can’t have been going that fast – the incident occurred only a few feet off the Market Street platform.
        It is unbelievable the antics pedestrians get up to (although once again not necessarily the case here) – they walk along the track adjacent to the platform, even when the footpath is half empty, with their backs to approaching trams, with their headphones on and so unable to hear trams or anything else. The same occurs on the prom at Blackpool: a footpath that must be near enough 20 foot wide, followed by a grass area the same width, yet these areas appear to be not wide enough and large numbers of pedestrians feel the need to walk immediately adjacent to the line and well within the ‘swept path’ of any approaching tram. I’ve also noticed that the meaning of the driver sounding the horn appears to be ‘if you cross right in front of me you’ll be ok’.
        I’m sure some of the tram drivers must be nervous wrecks by the end of their shift.

      • David Holt says:

        The Metrolink “trains” culture was deeply embedded from day one, reinforced by the whimsical adoption of a feeble whistle sound as the audible warning of approach. The decision to use whistles, rather than the loud gong sound adopted for unsegregated guided vehicles all over the world for the last 150 years, was I understand made in social circumstances – in other words, in the pub. The whistles were direct adaptations of LMS steam locomotive whistles, a physical manifestation of the “trains” culture which has persisted to this day. The “attack” of a whistle sound is soft compared with the “attack” of a gong sound, which effectively penetrates inattention, as in boxing rings, because it is the sound of one object hitting another. Deliberately implementing a railway with trains running on it when the public, the chamber of commerce, etc, and politicians had been sold a tramway with trams running on it, is what I call shabby. The “train” and “railway” quotes above are dated September 1994.

  10. tram man says:

    John,maybe there is something in what you say about Kerbs.I got to thinking that Mosley street is pretty much tram only nowadays.Yet to the best of my knowledge there have been no pedestrians killed or injured by trams.Could it be its because you have a proper Kerb in place and people know where the pavement ends and the road begins.

    As regards to the swept path.Drivers regulary test on rules and regs and the array of different types of swept paths,etched markings,continuous white lines,broken white lines,coloured lines are unbelievable.Of course you could say,its alright the driver knowing all this,but the average pedestrian has no idea what all the different markings mean.

    • James Jones says:

      I agree to your last paragraph about tram drivers being trained on matters that don’t ring true to others.
      At Victoria I always look to see if the tram in moving on the outbound line before I cross the track to the island platform. Imagine my surprise when I heard two Metrolink drivers talking about pedestrians(passengers) looking incorrectly at the tram rather than the flashing warning lights that are provided. I got the impression that tram drivers are taught that us passengers will (or should) look at the flashing warning lights to judge when to cross the track. Well I am sorry but I look at the big yellow metal thing that maybe about to move to judge when to cross!!!!!!!!

      • Bill Thomspon says:

        Well those drivers a deeply mistaken! Those ‘wig wag’ flashing trams beacons are no longer approved for use and have never been used outside phase 1 street running! To be honest, I’m suprised they’re still in use and haven’t been replaced!

  11. Clifford Stead says:

    A tragic accident and appalling for the driver and witnesses to it. No amount of flashing lights, horns or such like can get away from the fact that a fair number of pedestrians these days have earphones in and are texting etc on the move! Bearing in mind the sheer number of pedestrians at this location incidents like this are quite rare.

  12. Colin Smith says:

    There seems to be a mentality with some pedestrians using the stretch of tramway from, roughly, the junction of Market Street with High Street to the stop at Piccadilly Gardens that the trams are bound to stop and give way. Sometimes they cross or walk down the tracks in flocks like sheep. However, the most common thing I’ve noticed, and it is extremely frequent, is the pedestrian who upon hearing the tram horn turns to scowl at the driver and stands his/her ground in the middle of the track as if daring the driver not to stop. What they fail, seemingly, to realise is that these vehicles weigh in the order of forty tons and it is very unlikely especially if the track is wet or greasy that the vehicle is going to be capable of stopping without injury to them if they persist in not getting out of the way.

  13. Mark Evans says:

    I find the comments above most interesting as I was in Manchester Today, as someone familier with trams in Holland. I feel I can make the following comments.
    1 – The Dutch have learned that a Tram is bigger than you and needs to be respected and that it cannot stop as quickly as you.
    2 – Trams have priority over everything else.

    3 – In England people just follow the flock and ignore lights, often in Manchester you see people just step off regardless if its just turned to Red or is not Green.

    4 To be fair the point where it happened is very narrow and personally would never cross there unless clear in all directions but the proper crossing point for the tramway and road is only a few yards away.

    5 Maybe there is a need for the pedestrian Crossing to cover the Tramway as well as the road.

    • Ken Walker says:

      Absolutely correct, it’s the same with the railway, and the number of trespassers who actually take tools with them to dismantle a section of palisade fence to create shortcuts across the line, and regular trespass incidents. A railway enthusiast colleague of mine was holidaying in Germany a couple of years ago, and noticed that the local rail line was not fenced off. He got into conversation with some locals in the hotel bar and enquired if they had many problems with trespass. They looked at him as if he was from another planet and said why would anyone walk on the railway line when it’s so dangerous. Yes this attitude of no responsibility for personal safety appears to be very much a British disease, the guilty parties don’t seem to realise it is not only their own personal safety they are putting at risk, but if a tram driver has to make an emergency brake application then the safety of standing passengers is also being put at risk.

      • James Jones says:

        Yes maybe but when I am in Germany I am always surprised how much graffiti there is on trains and the lineside in general, much more than in Manchester (although South London is bad too). So there are some Germans who trespass a lot!

  14. Lee Stanford says:

    I work in Manchester and ever since the trams started running I have been amazed at the stupidity of the public at large. As soon as a tram appears they seem to get the urge to run across the rails in front of it rather than wait a massive five seconds for it to pass. This seems a British trait as observations in most European Cities show people wait for the tram to pass.
    With regard to Saturdays unfortunate incident I would be interested to learn how he managed to be hit by a tram at this location as the vehicle would be moving slowly and is rather large!

  15. Deckerman says:

    Whilst obviously a very tragic and unfortunate incident, with my thoughts going out to not only the victim’s family, but also the unfortunate driver and also the staff that have to then rectify the situation, we do have to perhaps here put into context the amount of annual Metrolink passengers carried totally safely, the amount of annual Metrolink route miles covered totally safely and perhaps more relevantly, the amount of car journeys ( approx 2 million plus annually) removed from the city centre roads and other surrounding roads and motorways that statistically would almost certainly have resulted in approximately 40 times as many fatalities if Metrolink hadn’t been implemented. Whilst every Metrolink related fatality, no matter how rare, is obviously a real tragedy and needs by whatever method to be reduced, ultimately if possible to zero, I would argue that the alternative to us not having had Metrolink built and the resultant extra car journeys needed, would make one fatality sadly pail into insignificance. Unfortunately, those much larger fatality numbers would just get lost in the usual “car-nage” figures of RTA’s. Whereas just the one by a tram, unfortunate and tragic though that is, then sadly and ironically, specifically because of it’s very rarity, becomes big news.

  16. James Palma says:

    The comments and observations on tram/person interfaces is nteresting.

    What does surprise me is that no tram drivers or former tram drivers seem to have written in. Apologies if you have and I have misinterepreted comments etc.

    As a former tram driver (5 years in Croydon) the following strikes me about tram/person collisions:

    1). Trams must be driven in the same way as any road vehicle. They must be able to stop in the distance seen to be clear.

    2). Where there is low visibility or a potential risk of collision, it is the responsbiility of the driver to reduce speed and be prepared to stop (driving with due care and attention).

    3). Whilst pedestrians have priority (not right of way, these are two different things, legally), they are responsible for their own safety and actions. Therefore they should ensure that it is safe to cross the road or tramway before they do so. Failure to do so is putting themselves at risk and as such they can be culpable for the accident if it can be demonstrated that:

    4). When a road vehicle, including a tram, hits a pedestrian, the immediate consideration is that the driver was at fault, as he should have followed the procedures of 1-2 above. However, we all know that is not necesarilly the case, especially when people walk or run in front of a tram.

  17. Ralph Oakesa-Garnett says:

    As some on here will know I take a lot of moving films of Metrolink. When observing the pedestrians in the background on these films I note that a high percentage are engaged in using mobiles texting and/or listening to headphones etc. I have observed a number of near misses by pedestrians walking in front of moving tram often in Piccadilly and where the recent accident happened. I shouted at one individual “are you mad” no response!

  18. Frank Gradwell says:

    I’m afraid that there is one simple context that is being completely overlooked here. Manchester is the only city for miles where trams run through pedestrianised shopping areas.

    Many of the public visiting Manchester are not used to the day to day reality of large lumps of metal moving amongst soft fleshy pedestrians or the results of the latter actually being impacted bythe former.

    You can train Metrolink staff all you like – but you can’t train the public, especially a public with no consciousness of danger.

    I gather the unfortunate victim on this occasion was caught at the point of articulation – how close must you be to the vehicle to be in anyway caught at that point? It appears it was not a frontal collision, so was this down to lack of tactile or audible warning of the tram’s presence or sheer lack of awareness full stop. One can only hope that the RAIB will be able to tease this out.


    Blackpool – where the promenade pedestrianised area has no separate lighting so to feel safer the place people will naturally gravitate to is the tramway – qed.

    • Ken Walker says:

      Or was it down to the victim just falling over / losing his balance? As I have said before despite the very true comments about pedestrian stupidity made on here by people including myself, it is very possible that this incident may well have been just a tragic accident. What we don’t need or want is a knee-jerk over-reaction from the powers-that-be.

  19. Nigel Pennick says:

    As a matter of perspective, how many people died in other road traffic accidents in Greater Manchester on the day of the tram fatality?

  20. Deborah says:

    I ask mself why we need Trams in the centre of Manchester! When I was a child growing up and then going into Manchester to on a bus to work I always found it safe. We do not need Trams and Should Not have Trams in The Centre of such a Busy Popular Place!!!

    • Ken Walker says:

      Utter nonsense. Trams are safer than buses because the exact route they are going to take is 100% predictable courtesy of rails laid in the road. All that is needed is for people to take responsibility for their own safety, which should take care of all situations except for freak accidents, which can happen anywhere with any form of transport. People in other countries manage to safely co-exist with trams in their town and city centres, the UK should be no different.

  21. John Stewart says:

    Deborah – you really ought to read “Deckerman’s” post of 15 January before you suggest that buses would be safer.

  22. Nicholas Ralph says:

    I am a Manchester resident and would say that this junction is very hazardous because of the way the track curves and the trams approach you from ‘behind’ if you are at the crossing.

    Without delay, bright red and yellow hatching paint should be applied across the whole tram track area at this point and lettering ‘DANGER – TRAMS’ placed on either side. The reinstatement of a proper kerb edge would also help, as other contributors have said, to prevent pedestrians from absently wandering onto the tracks.

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