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Tram Extensions Delay

Metrolink Lines to Oldham and Ashton Put Back To Sometime In 2012

Published on December 12th 2011.

Tram Extensions Delay

THE ‘very challenging’ task of introducing a new tram management system on to the Metrolink network has led to revisions to the schedule for new lines opening.

We share the frustrations of people waiting patiently to use the services, especially as construction of the new lines is going well. 

Transport for Greater Manchester’s £1.4 billion expansion of the Metrolink network is the largest single investment in public transport outside London.

It will deliver the largest tram network in the country, one three times the size it is now with a line to Rochdale via Central Park and Oldham, a line to Ashton-under-Lyne, a line to East Didsbury and another to Manchester Airport via Wythenshawe, with a second crossing through Manchester city centre.

The new South Manchester Line opened in July this year, and the lines to Central Park and Oldham Mumps are the next sections due to open.

A report considered by the TfGM Committee states that both sections will now open together next year in one phase. They had been due to open in December 2011 and March 2012 respectively.

This has been revised due to the challenges involved with introducing an essential new tram management system and an update will be presented to TfGMC in January.

Ultimately, all the lines will be controlled by the new system, which is a crucial part of the expansion because it will allow more trams to run on the network. It will also give drivers and controllers much more ability to manage individual vehicle schedules and movements.

The benefit to passengers waiting at stops is much more consistency in the running times of their trams as the system is more responsive and flexible, particularly at busy times. It will also provide real-time information on when the next tram is due to arrive at a stop.

The new system is currently being integrated onto sections of the existing lines. This complex operation involves new technology working effectively with the existing outdates system.

Philip Purdy, TfGM’s Metrolink Director, said: “The new operating system will provide benefits for existing passengers, not least real-time service information, but it is also a fundamental part of the expansion: ultimately, we simply cannot have one without the other.

“That is because the existing signalling on the Altrincham and Bury lines would not be able to support the number of tram movements that the expanded network will bring on to the network, particularly at a number of pinch-points on the network.

“The first stage of introducing the new system is to integrate the new with the old in a way that has the least impact on existing services.

“We are working closely with the contractor, Thales, on this and the progress made ultimately dictates when lines can open for service.

“We are currently assessing the implications this has for when we can start running to Central Park and Oldham Mumps, which are the next sections in line to open, but we will open them together, rather than in two phases, next year. An update will be presented to TfGMC in January.

“We share the frustrations of people waiting patiently to use the services, especially as construction of the new lines is going well. However, this is about the safe operation of a network that will be three times the size it is now, so we cannot cut any corners – we have to be thorough.”

Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM Committee, said: “This is a very complex, technical issue that officers are working closely with the contractor to address.

“I fully appreciate that people want to be able to use their new Metrolink services sooner rather than later, but ultimately this is about ensuring the safe and reliable operation of the expanded network. So it cannot be rushed; we have to get it right.”

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

AnonymousDecember 12th 2011.

more excuses from metrolink - an absolute joke !!!

VerbatimDecember 13th 2011.

To be honest I am not sure this delay is the fault of metrolink. The delay is related to the signalling system and nothing else.

I am sure that when it was ordered they where told it would work.

AnonymousDecember 13th 2011.

but they always are told that it will work Verbatim... like the block signalling on the West Coast Line

VerbatimDecember 14th 2011.

If I buy something from a well respected and experienced supplier and they fail to deliver it on time or functioning as I expected it, is it my fault or theirs?

Do you honest think that metrolink should have refrained from advertising any opening dates on the expectation that something bad would happen?

Remember Sweden 1967?December 14th 2011.

Is it cause your trams travel on the wrong side of the track?

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