With the news that trams on the Altrincham line are not expected to resume until Thursday following on from yesterday morning’s incident in Timperley, we suspect many people will be asking themselves whether Metrolink is simply having bad luck or whether there may be some kind of flaw in the overhead design on this line – after all, there have been several problems over the past year including the prolonged summer holiday blockade and a power failure in May.
Yesterday’s problem was caused by the failure of a double tram unit heading towards the city centre, just south of Timperley station. The retractable arm (known as a pantograph) that carries the current from the overhead wires to the tram became caught up in the wires and caused damage to the overhead wires that needs repairing. Although this may seem like a trivial concern, the following video of a European tram shows just how much damage can be caused as a vehicle comes to a halt:
Unlike other Metrolink lines, the Altrincham line was already an overhead electrified railway before conversion to light rail. Although the overhead line was replaced during last summer’s blockade, some of the supporting structures do date back to the original electrification in 1931, rather than being purpose-built for light rail as on the other lines. There’s also a single-track section of route through Navigation Road station – could this be contributing in some way through increased wear and tear? We’re not qualified in that field though, so will leave it to the professionals to determine the underlying cause.
In the meantime, a replacement bus service is in operation between Altrincham and Trafford Bar. A 10 minute Metrolink service is in operation between Piccadilly and Old Trafford, and tickets are also being accepted on Arriva’s 263 bus service between Altrincham and Piccadilly Gardens.