Newest Review: ... to fix all the problems with the infrastructure from the early days are well documented. From the unreliable signalling, the lack of turni... more
Under funded, but moving in the right direction
Author Name: Kurt Stephens
Advantages: Fast, efficient, reliable, safe, very much moving in the right direction
Disadvantages: Legacy of cronic under investment
Suffered from the start of incredibly low funding levels.
Back in 1990 when it was clear 45 trams were requried to provide enough capacity to provide a reliable service funding was only provided for 26 trams, it was also decided that the cheapest option were to be purchased.
From that day onwards we have suffered from lack of capacity and lack of reliability of the trams.
Of course we all know about how the tracks on the old Altrincham and Bury line was not replaced at the time of conversion to light rail, this led to a rough ride that was not only uncomfortable for passengers but also did the actual trams no favours, the violent shaking making the trams more and more unreliable.
Unbelievably, in the late 1990s, when approached by the local authorities to provide additional capacity, the Dept for Transport instead insisted that prices be raised to control demand on the network.
The fight for funding, to fix all the problems with the infrastructure from the early days are well documented. From the unreliable signalling, the lack of turning locations and the awful state of the phase 1 trams, the issues are all very well known by the locals, but finally, in the last 18months funds have slowly started to come on stream.
Unfortunately, as can be seen by some reviews on this web site, some of the reporting in the local media has been far from helpful and has given people misleading understandings of what is going on and why.
Nearly two years ago there was a serious de-railment in the city centre, this was a sign of the state of the city centre track, a sign of the fact that the whole city centre needed replacing. Unfortunately the local media does little to explain why the track was in the state is was, as such people make up their own wild assumptions, normally incorrect.
The simple fact is, the track laid in Manchester city centre at the start of the 1990s was the first light rail track laid in the UK for many decades, plenty of mistakes were made - no one had the experience / knowledge as to how to do it properly.
Thankfully today in 2009 we are very much moving in the right direction.
The city centre track is much improved and will have a much longer life than the first attempt, much more experience has been gained about how to do it properly in the last 20 years.
We have new trams arriving every two weeks now from the continent, these will soon be in public service which will not only allow for extra capcity but also more importantly it will allow for regular maintenance of the existing trams as there will be capacity to take them out of service to perform some much needed major maintenance.
Along with the new city centre tracks, the new trams, new ticket machines are slowly arriving, much more reliable, able to take credit cards and scaleable to work with the full network when we have in excess of 100 stops on the network.
We have a 'line of sight' operation about to start soon, which will allow for more trams to travel at any one time, increasing capacity.
We have brand new, much better, Passenger Information Disaplays on the way to all platforms on all stations soon, vastly improving the information available to customer.
We are going to be getting a customer announcment system whereby the control room can give specific messages to individual stations.
We are getting enormous expansion of the network - as can be seen on the streets of Manchester today - out to Rochdale, via Oldham, out to Ashton, East Didsbury and the airport. The Media:City line will be opening very soon.
All in all there is plenty wrong with Metrolink - however, a little understanding of what causes these issues gives an idea about how they will be resolved and crucially shows why what is going on today will lead to a vastly improved network that we will all be able to be proud of in the future.
Summary: Going to be great.
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