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Metrolink scores 6/10 (and that's according to the bosses)

Jonathan Schofield interviews Philip Purdy of Metrolink and Andy Morris of Stagecoach Light Rail and gets some interesting answers

Written by . Published on February 22nd 2010.


Metrolink scores 6/10 (and that's according to the bosses)

This is the interview we had with Metrolink three weeks or so ago about the state of the system. The interview was with Metrolink boss, Philip Purdy, and the Managing Director for Stagecoach Light Rail, Andy Morris.

It is frustrating, I get frustrated. I know what's happening behind the scenes, but the customer doesn't know all that, and perhaps expect it to be done all at once.

Metrolink owns and manages the system for the local transport authority and oversees the current improvement and extension work.

Stagecoach is the operator of the system. The company is contracted to provide the day-to-day running of Metrolink and look after issues such as the maintenance of the rolling stock and customer service.

We requested an interview in response to relentless criticism from readers of what is generally seen – despite all the work on extensions, ticket machines and new vehicles – as at best an inadequate system and at worst one in freefall.

The Interview

Jonathan Schofield (JS): There have been terrible problems over the last several months. When do you envisage the system running smoothly again?

Andy Morris (AM): We're hoping the customer is seeing a much smoother system than that which they had during the unprecedented bad weather at the start of the year – the worst the system has experienced since Metrolink began in the early nineties. We've recovered the situation and want to maintain this going forward.

JS: That's very confident. So the system will be running the regulation six minutes to Altrincham and Bury and twelve minutes to Eccles.

AM: Yes, we've restored the normal service and that should currently be running as usual.

Philip Purdy (PP): I agree. There were problems over the weather but the service is back on track and has been very consistent. We think that the consistency will be maintained.

JS: Does Stagecoach have much experience in operating light rail systems?

AM: Yes. We also operate the Sheffield supertram system and have done so since 1997. We've been operating Metrolink since 2007

JS: Describe the sort of problems that might happen on a day to day basis, because, despite the fact that you say the system is back to normal, passengers are still experiencing lots of delays.

AM: There is always potential for problems, a public transport system is susceptible to external as well as internal influences after all. Trams run on the street so buses breaking down cause problems, cars coming onto the streets in the way of trams is an issue, or vandals throwing stones at trams.

JS: But all these must be relatively rare.

AM: Well they do happen. That's not to gloss over that we have a fleet of vehicles that are 17/18 years old, which need to be overhauled so they are up to 21st century standard. That's a process we're going through with Metrolink presently.

JS: So the real problem is not with petty crime it's with outmoded trams. That sounds like it could take years to solve.

AM: Potentially yes. But that's the nature of the beast. Unless you can take all the trams out of service at once you have to fix them piecemeal.

PP: The new trams are to make the system more robust. There are 29 trams that need to go out for a complete service and there are only 32 trams available. We've got no room to manoeuvre. We're right on the limit. So we've invested in an extra eight vehicles which means we can increase the capacity and be more flexible.

JS: Does that imply there will always be an inherent problem because we still have to use all these old units? Is there no more forthcoming cash? Will people have to expect delays indefinitely?

PP: Nobody said there's no more cash. But in any case we are working up a programme of what reliability improvements we can make to those vehicles to guarantee consistency of service.

JS: Is there a timeframe when everything will be sorted with the vehicles. When can the public expect a competent level of service, 2014, 2012, next year?

PP: I don't think we can give a timeframe. We're assessing the problems and the solutions. Then we need to look at budgets. The number of vehicles we need will dictate the length of the programme. I can't sit here and say whether that will complete in 2012 or 2013. Yet we have to be realistic. With trains, buses and cars, things do happen, you do all the right things and still they break down. When a tram system breaks down it's unforgiving. You can put a bus on the side of the road. With a tram system you have to get people to the scene of the breakdown, clear the line. It can take a while. Part of the reason for our development work at Cornbrook and for the new depot at Old Trafford, is to give us more flexibility in getting to incidents and to get things up and running again. We'll be able to place trams that side of town rather than just at Queens Road. This should mean less disruption to the customer.

JS: Confidential readers seem to be of the opinion that light rail systems in other countries are better - particularly in Europe - than ours. Is this true?

AM: I can't say. I'm not familiar with the operational aspects of those systems. Remember though, this is the second generation in the UK, we threw out our tram experience for the car in the fifties and sixties. So we had to re-learn lots of lessons when Manchester's was set up. We've seen systems in Sheffield, the West Midlands, Nottingham and Croyden subsequently, and all of those have improved in terms of the deliverability of tram systems because of the experience of Manchester.

JS: That implies that ours isn't anywhere near the best and they've learnt from our mistakes. Great. But have you an opinion about the way passengers see other countries' systems?

AM: I do know that in places such as France and Germany their systems are a lot more comprehensive and heavily subsidised.

JS: So we have a half measure tram system?

AM: It's not so much half measure but it suited a need and we're developing it now to suit the need for the future. As cultures change you improve the thing as you go.

PP: We shouldn't get carried away and think other systems are perfect. Berlin and Prague have old vehicles they have a lot of problems with. Melbourne's system, which I ran for seven years, has terrible problems because most of the network shares space with cars. This means you can't have a reliable timetable. The benefit of Manchester's is that most of the system and the future system has, or will have, its own right of way, so in that way we are far in advance of Melbourne or Prague. That's a compliment to those who set it up and means if we get the details right we can have a very, very reliable system.

JS: Are you saying that readers may see a snapshot of reliability in other systems on weekend breaks but that doesn't reflect the general reliability of the overseas systems?

PP: Yes. If you get a visitor today in Manchester and the system works perfectly then they might go home and complain about their own system. But let's not fool ourselves. We don't think the system is where it should be, that's why we're putting in all this investment. Is it the world's best system? No, it probably isn't.

Andy Morris of Stagecoach is on the left and Philip Purdy of Metrolink is on the right

JS: What would you give it out of 10 amongst world systems?

PP: That's a pretty hard question to answer.......?

JS: Six?

AM: Probably six or seven.

PP: Yea I was going to say a six. It hasn't got its full robustness yet, that's the problem.

JS: You keep mentioning robustness? What do you mean.

PP: You judge a system on when it goes wrong. It can run 29 days out of 30 perfectly, but as soon as something goes wrong we're judged on how we handle it. When the system can cope with most of the anticipated problems then it has robustness.

JS: One thing that needs to be improved in your quest for robustness is communication. It's killing people that you don't communicate with passengers enough, explain delays.

AM: The criticism is fair. We don't get communication right all the time. We put a lot of effort into letting customers, both on tram stops and vehicles, know what's going on. The whole issue about information exchange is one we need to improve upon.

JS: But it seems so easy to resolve. You just sit someone on the tannoy and do a station wide announcement every five minutes. People are having to ring customer services individually and that increases frustration. It seems like you aren't using the technology you've got.

AM: We are using the technology. We have people dedicated at Queens Road depot to deliver information....

JS: That's just not the case. It's happening all the time: instances where there's no announcement while people are waiting way beyond the scheduled six or 12 minutes for trams. Surely you could easily address this via tannoy rather than having people answering the customer services phone?

AM: We have got people, and they use their judgement about where announcements need to be made and what level of information they need to give.

JS: They're not using it very well. Do you use the system at busy times?

AM: I use it daily.

JS: So everything with the announcements is fine?

AM: I'm not suggesting they're fine. On occasions we don't get it right and we need to make sure we do.

JS: To change the subject can we establish how much money Stagecoach is paid by GMPTE every year?

AM: We have sufficient funding to do what we need to do in terms of delivery of the contract.

JS: Could you give me a figure?

AM: I can't do that. It's confidential between me and the client.

JS: That's just obstructive. This is public money. I could probably get the figure through the Freedom of Information Act.

AM: Then I suggest that's the route you choose.

(At present Confidential is awaiting a formal reply to its Freedom of Information Act request which was placed with Metrolink last week.)

JS: So what money does Metrolink make from ticket sales?

PP: That is in the public domain. Ticket revenue is in excess of £20m with the revenue risk lying with us not Stagecoach.

JS: What is the total annual budget of Metrolink?

PP: That's a pretty hard question. I couldn't tell you that. We've got all the capital improvements so with that amount of money I couldn't tell you off the top of my head.

JS: Give me the big picture of where Metrolink stands now?

AM: I can say it's improving. There's unprecedented levels of investment in a system that will be run by twenty first century technologies rather then twentieth century technologies. We are committed to delivering an efficient, reliable service.

JS: Mr Purdy, are you happy with the job Stagecoach is doing?

PP: Yes they are doing a very good job. The system they took over wasn't perfect and to try and continue to run a service to the high standards the public require, as well as address those older issues, is a very balanced thing to undertake. Sometimes we don't get it right, sometimes they don't get it right, but we have to make sure we put the customer first. But there is a lot of improvement to be done, the investment is part of making sure the customer sees that they're being put first. It is frustrating, I get frustrated. I know what's happening behind the scenes, but the customer doesn't know all that, and perhaps they expect it to be done all at once. We would love to service and improve, for instance, all the vehicles all at the same time and put them all out together, but we have to take small steps because we have reliability issues that we have to test - even with the new trams.

JS: So where do you think we stand with Metrolink?

PP:We're building the system back up from a very low position. The good news is that we're on target with the extensions, ticket machines and improvements.

Conclusion
This was a strange interview. The pair seemed nervous together, uncomfortable almost. There were too many loose ends as well. They seemed to be saying: "We're not quite sure whether everything will work out but in some vague period in the future Metrolink will be a model of efficient reliability".

The oddest thing was the current assessment of the system. Regular passengers will know it is wayward, unpredictable, and unreliable. Grossly so - snow and ice regardless. Occasionally it's a shambles. The customer service is an insult.

Yet the main men of Metrolink don't seem to realise how dismal things have become despite the fact they use it regularly. Nor will they accept that communication about problems on the system is a model of how not to treat the tax-paying public on a public service.

Mr Morris's attitude seemed particularly difficult to understand with an unwillingness to concede fault or blame beyond, 'we know we could be doing better'. Philip Purdy is a more sympathetic character.

In the end of course, there's the classic British public transport failing here of not putting in the investment when it should have been put in. The present trams are effectively knackered and need a lot of work, the new trams are being tested and aren't ready, the old ticket machines are a joke.

Perhaps as Mr Purdy assures us, the future is bright, once we've got through the current difficulties. Confidential trusts there's light at the end of the tunnel, but wonders how many derailments we have to go through before we find it.

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43 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Smyth HarperFebruary 22nd 2010.

I get the tram very rarely - mostly because I want to avoid giving money to Stagecoach because of their owners' attitude towards us gays - but when I do I have had to wait more than six minutes on many more occasions than I haven't. Who actually checks up on timetable reliability?

snFebruary 22nd 2010.

Mr Morris' non-reply to Jonathan enquiring about the worth of the contract really is petty. what a joke. (mind you, if he's as cagey about keeping his figures out of the public domain as his boss, it'd take a Private Eye Number Crunching issue to get to the bottom!)

5 out of 10 seems fair. it isn't very 'robust', end of. been riding regularly on and off since 1995, and the old problems the same as ever, and it's just not particularly good. 29 out 30 Mr Purdy? maybe about 20...

John HarrisFebruary 22nd 2010.

The worst aspect of the metro system is the commuter service, which is sub 3rd world standard. <br><br>This is one of the key planks of the council's transport strategy and the dynamic duo's vague waffle above does not inspire any confidence that it will ever get better - they seem happy to try and sustain current levels.<br><br>If Manchester is to succeed as a commercial centre then there needs to be a reliable, efficient, low cost means of getting workers in and out of town. That does not mean squeezing them in like cattle on crowded carriages

AnonymousFebruary 22nd 2010.

@ johnthebrief - "The worst aspect of the metro system is the commuter service, which is sub 3rd world standard". Ever been to India and caught a train? Try hanging off the emergency doors and ducking the bridges to avoid being decapitated - that's '3rd world'

DescartesFebruary 23rd 2010.

I've been to India, to be fair they've got a world class rail service. Yeah ok you hang out doors or sit on the roof at times, but the way they run is amazing. Metrolink could learn a lot from them.

AnonymousFebruary 23rd 2010.

My favourite thing is the admission that when the Metro went live the trams were already eight years old - no wonder it's all bollocksed.

Lord of the PiesFebruary 23rd 2010.

Japan is the place to be for rail service. If the train is late by more than one minute then this is considered very late, over here it's more than 15 minutes to be considered very late. The total late time in the whole of Japan's rail network for last year was 6 minutes.

Jonathan Schofield - editorFebruary 23rd 2010.

As an unscientific survey I'm going to assess the trams on every journey I take this week. This morning was perfect. Arrived within six minutes and had no major hiccups.

Manchester Water TaxisFebruary 23rd 2010.

This looks like an excellent opportunity for Stagecoach and Metrolink to get involved in a new transport system for the city which would be free from congestion, stress free, reliable and fun. I've emailed Mr Purdy about http://www.manchesterwatertaxis.com and look forward to his reply

snFebruary 23rd 2010.

Mr Purdy's weekend snapshot thing, unfortunately for him, will allow plenty of rejoinders (and heck, i'll bite ;-) ).

i'm not the most well travelled but have ridden light rail in six other countries (none of them in countries he and Mr Morris cite - except Munich - nor Japan or India for that matter!) and on each time stuck around in that city for a long time, far more than enough to be able a decent day-to-day sense.

totally unscientific of course (aspersions at other cities, which of course deflects awkward attention from Metrolink; nobody seriously worth engaging in debate about Metrolink's failings would say anything so simplistic as 'everywhere else is perfect' - he shouldn't indulge in such straw man arguments), but given the last four or five (out of about seven; i'm not a regular Metrolink user recently) Metro journeys i've taken have been totally unacceptable, two can play the whole 'snapshot' game... ...naturally, the Metrolink is often very good.

which is what a system in one of the chief cities in one of the largest economies on earth should be, pretty much.

granted, as Jonathan says, it's the funding at the end of the day, basically, and we have to give them the benefit of the doubt, but Jonathan's post-interview wrap hardly inspires the greatest confidence.

snFebruary 23rd 2010.

oh and none of my recent bad experiences on the tram coincided with the recent freak cold snap, just to be clear.

John City CenterFebruary 23rd 2010.

I get the Metro link 5 times a week (Eccles Line) and 4 out of the 5 days there is a problem. When you call the staff are rude and simply say “Im doing my best” or “ Send in your ticket” at the best of times you can’t get through and when I did and asked how many staff they had on the phones they said “two!”. When I said I would complain as I had bought a ticket then had to get a taxi so the total cost of £10 for the day, they said “send your ticket in!” When the tram eventually arrives it is so full that people are pushing and shouting, I helped one woman who was nervous in confined spaces and was having a panic attach, another time I had to climb off the tram whilst some elderly people had to be carried off! The lacks of announcements are bad, it was better when the lines were being “re-done to make a better service” and the busses were on, they were cheaper and very reliable! I have lost money at work and been in trouble because of lateness and when I tell the company or write to them its always the same response “doing the best they can!”. I feel sorry for BBC spending all this time and money coming to a service that isn’t up to scratch! People can’t get jobs and they have two staff and up the price of tickets ect! I really could go on!

Helen WoodFebruary 23rd 2010.

The fact that I am delighted when there is a good service on the Met (I should be able to take it for granted) and sometimes end up arriving very early to things because I build in a lot of extra time as I am so used to having long delays normally says a lot about it.

When it works it is great though, and I don't wnat to go back to travelling on buses or having to drive everywhere.

Alty Tram UserFebruary 23rd 2010.

They are quite clearly deluded. The service is a joke, I've regularly waited at Altrincham for longer than 6 minutes and that has been since the bad weather cleared up.

They need to stop blaming the age of the trams and the system and the weather. If other places learn from our mistakes, why the hell can't we learn from European cities mistakes?

Oh and how they can defend ANY of their customer facing staff I do not know. They are inherently rude and ignorant and take peverse pleasure in belittling people and ignoring questions and requests.

How they can charge as much as they do for a return ticket from Altrincham into Manchester is complete mystery as well.

Lorraine19209February 23rd 2010.

I get the tram every day - Dane Rd to St Peter Sq. Its worse now AFTER all the work in the summer (and the MASSIVE inconvience with no monetary reduction). Twice last week I waited for over half an hour, no announcement whatsoever! Thursday night luckiy I overheard a lady who rang Metrolink after a 40 minute wait to say they had been suspended. I walked to Piccidilly Gdns and whilst passing Mosley St, heard the tannoy saying trams suspended. That was probably 1 hour after the last tram had come through! Also, twice I have been on the new trams when there have been major door problems - one door actually opening whilst it was stopped at traffic lights!!!! Can't believe we're paying through the nose for this less that average service - the two guys above are obviously failed politicians by their "answers"!!!

John-Paul14137February 23rd 2010.

I would like to add that the recent delays and events have been the new lines but this has been happening for longer than the weather that it so often gets blamed upon. The next time things happen I think we need pictures to show these two men how we travel, or do they get the metro aswell, probably not with a 6 out of ten! My favourite part about the metro is getting my paper in the morning, with no seats most of the time, i read it at lunch!

take yer car!February 23rd 2010.

So they won´t say how much they get, but there´s plenty of funding - sort of begs the question, are they getting all the money, but providing nothing for it? He says, ¨We have sufficient funding to do what we need to do in terms of delivery of the contract¨ Summing that statement up in terms of the total interview, it basically means that they are contractually obliged to do very little for the money - it would be interesting not just to get the figure they get paid, but also details of what they are contractually obliged to provide for that money. Judging from their answers, it´s just our money being doled out with little need to provide anything in return. As you said, they seem completely happy with the status quo and have no real urge to make any improvements - as long as they´re making a profit to pay the director´s bonus, they don´t really give a monkey´s.

I live up Droylsden way, where we´re currently unable to go anywhere without long delays as all the roads are dug up everywhere with lots of temporary traffic lights. At no point do I remember being asked if we wanted the metrolink to run up our main road into and out of town. There is already a fantastic bus service, with one every 3 minutes. I fail to see how sticking two tram lines down the middle of what is really quite a narrow road will improve congestion.
Instead of a vote on the congestion charge, we should´ve had a vote on ´do you want the metrolink?´ - I´ve yet to find anyone in favour of it.

MattFebruary 23rd 2010.

I travel from Altrincham to Manchester every day.
The service at the moment is crap. There's no other way to describe it.
There are serious issues with failed vehicles or equipment almost daily. Overcrowding is a real problem also. Since the re-furb it's been hugely unreliable - I'm sure that the inclement weather will be getting the blame but with a bit of luck we'll find out if this is the case.
I chuckle to myself every day when I look at the posters promoting the proposed extension of the network. Perhaps Metrolink should invest the money earmarked for this in getting what they have in terms of the current network up and running to an acceptable level.
The chaps who've scored it 6/10 obviously never use it themselves. Can I suggest that they give it a go for a week.

Dawn14124February 23rd 2010.

I had a private audience with some of the top brass just over a year ago after I threatened to film the situation esp on match nights. It was clear to me then they didn't have a clue about what really happens from a passenger perspective eg "match goers don't travel to Old Trafford until after the commuters have gone home". This interview just confirms it. I was told last year that when the new trams came they would only run on the Eccles line and all the old Eccles units would be transferred to Alty line so every unit would be a double. Reason was they can't run different types of tram on the same line cos they don't link up for recovery when they break down. the current mix of vehicles on each line doesn't therefore inspire me with confidence. They also promised me new ticket machines by Sept/Oct 2009. Later press releases promised Nov. Apart from city centre stops where people tend to terminate rather than start their journey, no new machines have been installed. i got the tram for the first time ina while last weekend (I now normally drive) and checked each stop from Sale, nothing til Gmex (what happened to the name change, by the way?). So I'm confused by Purdy's statement 'we're on target with the ticket machines' - isn't it nearly march 2010? I got a free ride last time by the way as I had no means to buy a ticket as the one machine at Sale that takes notes was broken. How much revenue are they losing from honest people prepared to pay, let alone the fare dodgers. I also raised the issue of communication with them last year and they said theywere retraining cust service staff and making sure there would be announcements when there was a problem. the few times I've used it since and talking to people who still use it regularly, there's been no chnage. Apparantly Virgin trains now use Twitter, you can tweet if you have a problem and they get straight back to you. Pressure on social networking and sites like this is the only answer. Keep badgering them Jonathan.

malbyFebruary 24th 2010.

No matter what the weather is like the metrolink is unreliable..... earlier in the year they had staff on the platform at St peteres square announcing when the next trams would be and where they were going and even that was wrong (in terms of timescale and destination). After complaining to metrolink all i got was excuses, after complaining to GMPTE I got a standard sales pitch (which didn`t answer any of the questions i had asked), when i repeated my question, i got no response at all.

It seems like nobody is accountable for the poor service, there are too many fingers in the pie (An expensive pie, for customers, at that!)......

the only thing i can see they are good at is checking tickets.

They should just start all over again and make the operators accountable by re-letting the contracts that appear to be completely flawed in terms of accountability.

Jonathan Schofield - editorFebruary 24th 2010.

Continuing my unscientific survey the tram - Day 2 - was on time and there were no delays on the way in.

AnonymousFebruary 24th 2010.

They probably have a photo of you in the control centre and when they see you on the CCTV they make sure they're on time - sounds far fetched but doesn't something similar happen in restaurants?

MalbyFebruary 24th 2010.

Just though i would share this little experience, when the new trams were starting up the doors jammed one morning in Alrincham, just as everyone at Altrincham was dismbarking an announcement came over the PA system saying that the delays were caused by passengers forcing the tram doors. The new trams no longer advance as far up the platform, i think this is because the doors get stuck on the platform (the platform must be higher at the end).... I Just thought it amusing that metrolink were very quick to publicly blame passengers for what appears (due to the new trams no longer advancing as far up the platform) to be a design fault!!!

AnonymousFebruary 24th 2010.

As I sit on the tram watching various versions of the public get on without paying I become angry with myself for paying and being so honest.
But I smile to myself when the ticket inspectors get on, "excellent" I think, time to see a bit of pay back.
Nah, the jobsworths just stand around and chat.
I'm still a mug.

Rhys BarkerFebruary 24th 2010.

I have some great emails from the service manager - so laughable at her excuses - the eccles line is a shambles, normal service is at least every 25 mins - ive done a survey too, metrolink dont score highly from the passengers.

I set up a boycott group on facebook like 5 mins ago

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=353757827159 might be worth seeing if theres an interest and if mancon will support me

"metrolink has returned to normal service"

Massive delays, missing trams, failure to announce delays, aggressive inspectors, poor customer service, over priced, over crowded, constantly faulty ticket machines, both new and old... yep..sounds back to normal to me.

A boycott could make a statement, and it seems many people are in agreement, since there is no group for the campaign, it seemed wise to make one.

I will publish the results of surveys here and also some of the useless replys from the customer service manager.

angryFebruary 25th 2010.

I to have great emails from the customer service manager as well, (copy available) and for all those who are intrested I have an big artical appering in the Manchester Evening News This Saturday!.
If the people in this interview think the Eccles line is back to normal im afraid they are sadly mistaken.
The service is appaling and as far as contacting what has to be the worst Customer service department manager i have had the misfortune of dealing with im at a loss as to how nothing is been done and we are fobbed of as usual Hope the story in the paper this Saturday has some impact

angryFebruary 25th 2010.

Re John City Center
your rant has made me feel better as I am in exactly in the same boat regardin loosing money because of latness at work. I think you will be very intrested in the artical the Evening News is printing on Saturday A

AnonymousFebruary 26th 2010.

The worst thing about the Metrolink is the moaning,whining trolls who go on about it everyday.

Deal with it.

Leigh ScottFebruary 26th 2010.

Jonathan can we please have an up-date? Day1 rubbish Day2 no delays.Days 3 and 4?

TomFebruary 26th 2010.

Anon - so people are just meant to sit back and ignore the variety of errors that are rife in the Metrolink system at the moment? You forget that this is England, where complaining is a national pastime. On a more serious note, there is definite scope for improvement here and the company itself looks to not be in any particular hurry to make amends, so of course it is within the paying customers right to bring forth opinions both for and against this service. Not, as you say, deal with it.

NortherngeezerFebruary 26th 2010.

Public transport................no wonder i use the car, despite the congestion on the East Lancs!!!!.

Rhys BarkerFebruary 26th 2010.

oh shes a delightful character alright..

my fav is when she told me all the problems in November 2009 were due to the weather in Jan 2010.

I loved it when i complained about her staffs attitude and aggressiveness and she replied "this is of no interest to me"

she has failed to answer a single question put to her and is the most useless excuse of a manager.. i have informed her she is becoming much like the tram service.. unreliable and a massive inconvinience.

furiousFebruary 26th 2010.

I cannot belive this happened!This morning waited 25 min at Weaste(Eccles line) 6am no trams,, when I eventualy got into work late and got through to the Customer services, at 7.15am (and this is were it gets farcical)to ask why we were left standing without any announcements was told and I quote "we have a tram missing"?

How can they continue to get away with this?

Just who is accountable?

Andrew DarbyshireFebruary 26th 2010.

The ongoing tragi-comedy that is the ticket machine at Timperley station deserves a mention. They've taken to putting a few members of staff next to it in recent weeks to help people use it. With comic results when as usual it stops working and they can't do anything about it. Oh, and it's got a 6 inch puddle at the exact place you need to stand to operate it. I'm begging you Metrolink, just bring the schedule forward for fitting the new one.

ticket dodgerFebruary 26th 2010.

This is what you do...when the trams are so obviously hugely crammed in the morning, just don't buy a ticket...it's not as though they will pay for anyone to check if you have one,they only do this in the day when they can get on the tram.How are they to check your ticket at rush hour? send a ticket inspector up the middle aisle? drag everyone of at each stop?Neither are feasable when its clearly so over crowded. it's great i'm saving a fortune!!!

AnonymousFebruary 26th 2010.

I get the tram 3 day s week. It's great when it's working and normally in the morning as I start after rush hour it's great and takes 15 mins. Coming home is another thing altogether..I have to leave an hour for a 30 min door to door journey! Also just have to mention that the new stops at Pic G & Mkt St seem to have too few working tannoys, I can never hear the anouncements at all, which does not help!

ticked offFebruary 28th 2010.

Sat 27th Feb
Compleat shut down of the tram service Saturday afternoon, I was told to get the bus by rude customer service staff, they had no apologies to offer, I suppose their immune to complaints they get so many! outrageous that they can treat their passengers like this, Shameful!

John HarrisMarch 1st 2010.

public monopoly = dreadful service, producer interest, indifference to customers, zero communication, etc etc

stop it now metrolinkMarch 1st 2010.

My god, can you belive it another failed tram today at Cornbrook! Can we take it now Mr Purdy, from the evidence of failed trams over the past few days we can expect more of the shody service your company seems to be dishing out on a daily basis, Shame on your company for treating passengers with utter contempt!

James11364March 2nd 2010.

John dear Metrolink is run by a Private profit making Company called Stagecoach. Is does run the tram system but there is plenty of choice in transport. Stagecoach also runs Virgins Trains and most of the buses in the south of the County. Only in the case of the trains and trams is it a franchise and the trains have to be subsidised by the taxpayer like the roads.

AnonymousMarch 2nd 2010.

join the boycott group.. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=353757827159

user10826March 16th 2010.

Best bit of advice I heard from a Metrolink customer service line... No working ticket machines at Altrincham station so I called to ask what to do, and was told to walk to the next station and pay there! Fair enough, the walk from Altrincham to Navigation Road isn't far but that's not the point! You wouldn't pay for a bag of chips only to be told you have to bring your own potatoes!

ticked offMarch 18th 2010.

Called the customer service to ask as to why we were waiting 25min for a tram on the Eccles Line 17/03/2001 approx 3.45pm only to be Barked at by some rude woman there was a points problem, I commented that this was unexceptable only to be told that there have been no problems all week (Like I should be greatful that they provide a normal service that I pay for) when I asked why no annoucments were made I was told "We only have one person doing announcements and he was doing them station by station" unbleivable! I would like to know who handles the training for CS staff as I would ask for most of them to be retrained in how to be polite to their paying customers. As always Metrolink you will pay absolutley no attention to this and go about what your company does best! Treat customers like we dont matter! Well Mr Purdy we do!

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