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Tram tactics

How did you get to work this morning? On the tram? Read on… Sale commuter David talks Metrolink tactics.

Published on September 1st 2006.


Tram tactics

A note from the southern front of the GM commuter war…

It was a silly mistake to make, and it could be costly. It was my misjudgement, my delay in correction… the blame is all mine and I’ll simply have to take the consequences.

Everybody knows that when the tram is first sighted on the horizon, you need to already be in your Alpha position on the platform, or else have already made the decision to go to your Beta. I had failed.

It’s probably best to advise you now that if you’re unaware of your Metrolink Alpha and Beta positions, it is probably not worth reading on. You are not a Metronaut - you are an amateur, a civilian who frankly just gets in the way. You are likely to stand bovine on the tram asking anyone who will listen “Does this tram go to Bolton ?”

My Alpha position at Brooklands station (Manchester platform) is at the second wall-bin, giving direct access to the rear doors. A silly distraction - probably thinking of something fatuous like work or some such - has put me two feet further along the platform. It might as well be the next county. There is no chance of a successful Boarding Procedure on what will be a nearly full tram. And so it proves, with my fellow Metronauts punishing my schoolboy error in clinical fashion - as I would do to them. My only meagre consolation is that I have now achieved Alpha for the next tram - whenever that will be.

Missing Alpha has been my second mistake of the morning, having already missed the 8.10 Double-Carriager. These two mistakes mean that not only will I not get a seat (only Altrincham Royalty are guaranteed a seat at this time), but that also I may be late for work. This could be disastrous as I have a 9am meeting. I may need to let people at work know. I may need to make the Call-of-Shame…

But my luck turns, the flapped wings of a butterfly in Beijing has meant that the Chaos Engine that is the Metrolink control room has organised another tram within 4 mins – and I successfully execute my Boarding Procedure. Boarding is so successful in fact that I achieve Aisle Status, and do not have to stand in the Devil’s Mosh-Pit (DMP) that is the seething door area. From my position of relative sanity I can enjoy the show in the DMP, troubled only by the lad next to me who smells like an explosion in a Lynx factory.

Disappointingly the DMP exhibits nothing more entertaining than the usual utter human misery today, even when passing through Stretford. Therefore I now have only one thing on my mind - will I make it in for 9am, or will I need to make that call? As I stand and contemplate, a girl sitting to my left appears to have decided to make the call. The carriage quietens ominously.

“Hi Helen it’s Clare…yes I’m fine thanks. Listen Helen there’s been a problem on the Met and I’m going to be a bit late…”

The background sniggers have started

“Yes I know this is always happening, but it really isn’t my fault, it’s just the Met, I wish they’d sort it out…”

Sniggers and the occasional snort are now clearly audible.

“Well I am getting there early enough, I was there early enough. I was there at 7.45 this morning but the whole system is just in chaos…”

The woman seated behind the girl begins to cough and shake her head, and a loud guffaw is heard further down the carriage.

“Well I don’t know how Sarah has managed to be there already, she must have just been lucky at her stop. Look I’m losing the signal, I’ll see you in a bit”

Involuntarily I begin to cough, and my eyes water, I can here laughter all around the carriage. My decision is made, I will be calling nobody.

The journey is uneventful. We arrive at the diarrhetic that is St Peter’s Square, and the Tram is purged of its contents. I find a seat and settle down, I have two more stops and will be just on time.

A flash of Dayglo catches my eye, and a Ticketing Operative speaks:

“Show your tickets and passes please”

Three mistakes in one day…

David Patton

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