Metrolink Update – December 2013 ….

Posted on December 22nd, 2013, by The Chairman

Paul Wilkinson writes ….

Despite rumours suggesting the rest of the older T68 fleet would be withdrawn in one go at the end of Tuesday 17 December, six of the older T68 trams continue to be seen in use (1007/12/6/7/22/3) plus two of the later T68A trams 2001/3 which are to be retained into 2014 to aid the network during the Victoria Station service alterations (see later). Most days the T68s run on the Eccles line and the T68As run on the Altrincham-Bury directs as the two non-doubled trams.

Eight double trams out of ten continue on the Altrincham-Bury direct service which operates every 12 mins Monday to Friday 07:15-19:30 and Saturday 09:30-18:30. Although on Friday 20 December around 1615, Metrolink twitter reported 10 double trams operating Altrincham to Bury and 4 double trams operating between East Didsbury and Rochdale. Metrolink were reporting they were running Altrincham to Bury direct services until 9pm with some additional double trams on the Bury and Altrincham lines in the evenings.

Saturday 22 December saw changes to normal operating patterns: Football at MUFC with a 3pm KO, plus shopping crowds saw Metrolink decide to remove the MediaCity service altogether and run all trams from Piccadilly to Eccles direct and not via Media City, passengers having to use Harbour City stop. The extra trams released were used to double up services to Altrincham, Eccles, Rochdale and East Didsbury with at one stage 19 double trams in service – the usual turnout is eleven. This included three double T68 units. Double trams were the norm on the Altrincham line late into the evening.

New M5000 trams continue to be delivered with 3077 being the last delivered before Christmas. There are another 17 to be delivered up to 3094 – the last twenty of the order having some extra seats (but not many!). Trams up to 3074 are in service with two trams currently out of service – 3013 was hit by a refuse wagon in Salford and is under repair, 3062 is being used as a temporary source of spares. Tram 3070 appeared in service on Saturday 21 December. 3071/5-7 are being used for testing at Oldham/Rochdale and mileage accumulation before entering service.

A further ten trams are expected to be added to the order for the Trafford Centre line due to start construction in 2016. Work on the Airport line from Chorlton, Sale Water Park and through Wythenshawe is continuing with overhead line support poles appearing in some areas. This line is expected to open in 2016.

Problems at Cornbrook Junction seem to be settling down – although a problem on Tuesday morning saw severe delays on the Altrincham line during the morning peak.

Customer Services continues to improve with a Twitter account introduced @MCRMetrolink with official Metrolink service updates straight from the Control Room 6am – 7pm Monday to Friday, and 8am – 6pm Saturday and Sunday. Upgrades to the website now show traffic light colours for level of service.

However, the default position on the table seems to be good service – even when we know there is no service at that time of day! – e.g. Altrincham –Bury directs don’t operate late evenings and Sundays; similar for Media City trams. It would be better if the table didn’t show all six lines all the time, reducing to the four operating in the evenings and on Sundays.

A lack of information during problem periods continues – especially on the Altrincham line which relies on loud speaker messages to passengers as the Passenger Information screens will not be working until line of sight working comes in 2014.

Festive tram times are published on the Christmas Timetable pages showing late starts and early finishes on some days. However, in a change to the original plans, from Monday 23 December though to Sunday 4 January, the MediaCityUK service will run as part of the Eccles service (via MediaCityUK) every 12 minutes as double trams all day, so half the frequency but double the occupancy.

Trams continue to stop at Victoria Station although the train part of the station is closed from 25 December 2013 until 1 January 2014. (Tracks are being lowered under Cheetham Hill Road bridge for electrification work – further details are on Northern Rail’s website).

Work expected at Victoria affecting the trams due for a nine month period from January has been delayed to “late February or March” – this is the trams working non-stop through Victoria using a single line during Second City Crossing and new roof work. More news when it comes.

Trams are due to work through Oldham Town Centre on the revised route from late January. There will be an eight day closure of the line between Central Park and Rochdale from close of service on Friday 17 January until the opening of the new route from the first tram on Sunday 26 January. This diverts trams from the Oldham Tunnels to Yorkshire Street with stops closer to the town centre.

The annual Metrolink fares review has been agreed by members of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee. In line with the agreed financial strategy that underpins Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s established major investment programme, Metrolink fares will rise by RPIX+1% in January. This is to meet operating costs and to contribute towards the £1.5 billion Greater Manchester Transport Fund, which is investing in extensions and improvements to the network. This means, from 2 January 2014, Metrolink fares will increase by an average of 4.2%. Details of specific 2014 ticket prices are now available here.

Please leave a comment

  1. Paul Wilkinson Says:

    Agenda papers for the next TfGMC Capital projects and policy sub-committee meeting (17 Jan 2014) gives an update report regarding Metrolink upgrades and new lines progress.

    Similar Rail Infrastructure report

  2. Mike Battman Says:

    In the infrastructure report I couldn’t see any report on Altrincham Interchanges’ progress, have I missed it?

    Good to see that Hale is on the list for upcoming station improvements.

  3. Jen Says:

    Hale station improvements assumes TfGM can get £100,000 of funding which they haven’t yet secured.

  4. Paul Wilkinson Says:


    The last update for Altrincham I can find is dated 30 Oct at

    They seem to look at the Interchange as a Bus project – rather than train or tram led

  5. Lord Harry of Sodor Says:

    The TfGMC paper for rail infrastructure updates makes very interesting reading and demonstrates a commitment by all partners, funding permitted,to improving station facilities across the Greater Manchester area which includes Hale, Altrincham and Navigation Road on the Mid Cheshire Line. Although I notice there is nothing included for Navigation Road.
    Where can one find similar papers covering Mid Cheshire Line stations in Cheshire East and CWAC? I am sure they would also make for interesting reading.

  6. Mike Battman Says:

    Jen, What are they hoping to do at Hale?

    Paul, that would seem to be the case. I’ve heard it is running about a month behind programme.

  7. Jen Says:

    Mike – all the pdf that Paul Wilkinson gave the link to says is “Safety, security and passenger information systems” so I would imagine at least CCTV, platform display screens and a tannoy.

    Lord Harry of Sodor – I imagine there aren’t any such plans for Cheshire East stations at present.

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