On the right track - Metrolink boss defends much criticised system

Messenger Newspapers: Peter Cushing Peter Cushing

IT’S not only moaning about the weather that seems to be a British pastime.

Those who use it rarely pass up an opportunity to criticise public transport and while it’s a completely different system, Metrolink seems to be attracting the sort of cynicism once reserved for British Rail.

Messenger recently ran a story about tram delays on the Altrincham line caused by problems in other parts of the network - problems caused by icy weather.

We asked readers to share their views about tram travel and our contributors were unanimously scathing.

One describing Metroliink as “an embarrassment to Manchester.” Another, David Rolfe, described the service as “an absolute joke.”

A former regular tram user said the system was “badly managed.”

But Metrolink director Peter Cushing defended the system and said Metrolink has been a model for other light rail systems around the world.

“I spend a lot of time talking to people from not just the UK but from the rest of Europe and worldwide and they’re constantly asking us how we did that and how we did that.

They look at what we’ve done in such a short space of time and they think it’s a remarkable achievement.

“Every light rail system in the world has problems as does every rail company per se. But we are getting better and better at how we make the system perform and we work constantly and very hard on things that come up on a daily basis.”

Mr Cushing said improvements are being made all the time, from an increase in the number of trams to more customer services staff. He said a tram management system.

will be introduced across the whole network over the next 18 months and this will allow more vehicles to run at any one time.

Mr Cushing said the TMS would make the system more reliable.

As a commuter I have first hand experience of tram delays caused by wintry weather freezing the overhead power lines. The company runs ice breaker trams through the night in a bid to keep the lines free from frost.

But Mr Cushing said more is to be done to fight the effects of the winter weather.

He said: “We’ve increased the number of ice breaker trams so we can run them more frequently and on top of that we’re looking at a coating on the overhead line - particularly where we get out of the city.”

Comments (2)

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4:00pm Sat 7 Dec 13

ahreman says...

Due to an extremely effective publicity campaign, Metrolink was welcomed before it was even built. As it was, it was nine months late in finally running, timetables were never printed as these would have proved the actual delays in running - only (theoretical) intervals were ever advertised. A rail service that provided not only local services but through services to further destinations was lost as a result. Further developments of Metrolink have resulted in the loss of more rail services - in every other instance around the country , light rail networks (trams) have been introduced on rail lines that were closed many years ago, or where no rail lines existed. There was ample opportunity for this here.
This Metrolink came about through local politics, irreparably destroyed a working rail system - and has given Greater Manchester residents what they deserved.
Due to an extremely effective publicity campaign, Metrolink was welcomed before it was even built. As it was, it was nine months late in finally running, timetables were never printed as these would have proved the actual delays in running - only (theoretical) intervals were ever advertised. A rail service that provided not only local services but through services to further destinations was lost as a result. Further developments of Metrolink have resulted in the loss of more rail services - in every other instance around the country , light rail networks (trams) have been introduced on rail lines that were closed many years ago, or where no rail lines existed. There was ample opportunity for this here. This Metrolink came about through local politics, irreparably destroyed a working rail system - and has given Greater Manchester residents what they deserved. ahreman

1:21pm Tue 10 Dec 13

Altfish says...

I can’t agree Ahreman.
Metrolink was indeed welcomed before it was built but it has continued to be welcomed in Rochdale, Oldham, Ashton, Didsbury and all points in between as it has been rolled out. Wigan, Bolton and Stockport residents complain about the system not coming to their towns. Only last week the front page of the Knutsford Guardian was complaining that a proposed tram-train link was shelved. Metrolink carries in excess of 25m people every year, what did the equivalent trains carry?
There is a timetable, it is the same as a London Underground timetable, i.e. times of first and last trains are given and the intervals between them stated. That is easier to understand than a table with over 180 departures and arrivals listed.
When I go from Altrincham to London or Sale to Leeds, I change train/tram. The only ‘through’ service that has been lost is to Chester but Altrincham has gained a service to Stockport. Is it such a chore to have to cross platforms at Altrincham (especially when we will soon have the new lifts)? The Bury line had no through trains neither did the Rochdale, Oldham route that has been converted.
I remember the hike up Deansgate for my connection from Victoria to Leeds or Newcastle when I used to catch the train from Altrincham. Your recollection of the trains is through rose tinted glasses.
Metrolink has its problems, mainly to do with up-to-date information on services and conversion to the new TMS system, but every city in the UK wishes it had a system as good as Manchester’s. It came about by local politics…the best kind of politics.
I can’t agree Ahreman. Metrolink was indeed welcomed before it was built but it has continued to be welcomed in Rochdale, Oldham, Ashton, Didsbury and all points in between as it has been rolled out. Wigan, Bolton and Stockport residents complain about the system not coming to their towns. Only last week the front page of the Knutsford Guardian was complaining that a proposed tram-train link was shelved. Metrolink carries in excess of 25m people every year, what did the equivalent trains carry? There is a timetable, it is the same as a London Underground timetable, i.e. times of first and last trains are given and the intervals between them stated. That is easier to understand than a table with over 180 departures and arrivals listed. When I go from Altrincham to London or Sale to Leeds, I change train/tram. The only ‘through’ service that has been lost is to Chester but Altrincham has gained a service to Stockport. Is it such a chore to have to cross platforms at Altrincham (especially when we will soon have the new lifts)? The Bury line had no through trains neither did the Rochdale, Oldham route that has been converted. I remember the hike up Deansgate for my connection from Victoria to Leeds or Newcastle when I used to catch the train from Altrincham. Your recollection of the trains is through rose tinted glasses. Metrolink has its problems, mainly to do with up-to-date information on services and conversion to the new TMS system, but every city in the UK wishes it had a system as good as Manchester’s. It came about by local politics…the best kind of politics. Altfish

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