Since our last update from Midland Metro we have seen the 16th Urbos 3 arrive in the West Midlands whilst the T69 fleet continues to be in a state of flux with vehicles seemingly being taken out of service and then returned to operational condition a few days later! Whereas a few weeks ago it seemed the end was definitely very close of the T69s more recent weeks have seen an upsurge in the use of T69s.
Urbos 3 32 was delivered to the depot at Wednesbury shortly before 1000 on Tuesday 4th November. As with all previous arrivals it was delivered on the back of two low loaders before being unloaded and temporarily connected. It was then moved into the Workshops where initial commissioning is undertaken ahead of a full testing and commissioning process on the mainline.
During October the daily service was starting to see more and more Urbos 3s used with some days seeing less than half of the trams in action being the older T69s. However as the month continued the fortunes seemed to reverse as more attention was paid to testing the CAF built Urbos 3s. But as November progressed the Urbos 3s started to take on further diagrams. So in effect it is very difficult to predict on a daily basis just which trams will be in use operating the service.
Of the 10 T69s which remain on the network there are six which are believed to be available for service on a daily basis: 04, 06, 10, 11, 12 and 16. Of the others 03 is known to have been withdrawn but there are question marks on the status of the others. It is thought that 05 was taken out of service in mid-November, 08 has been stabled in the same position at the bottom end of the depot sidings since 4th November and 09 has not been seen in service for a few weeks either.
Urbos 3s up to 31 have been noted at least once on the mainline with both 29 and 31 seen testing over the past few weeks. It is not believed that 32 has yet made a test run. Up to six Urbos 3s have run in service at the same time – a full Sunday service was operated with the new trams in action – but the holy grail of a full weekday Urbos 3 service has not yet been achieved.
No official word has been received from Midland Metro as to just when they are planning to introduce a full Urbos 3 service or when the last T69s will operate in service although as soon as it is announced we will let you know!