Posted by: Richard Frost | 23 Oct 2013

Metrolink outlines plan for Cornbrook point failures

Manchester tram on the move

Manchester’s tram network is in a right old mess.

At the start of last week, the Metrolink director apologised for the disruption following technical faults at Cornbrook station. Since then, Manchester’s tram service has steadily deteriorated.

Rush hour?

Things came to a head at 715am yesterday (Monday, 21 October 2013) when a points failure at Cornbrook (again) left commuters stacked up in stationary trams for more than an hour at rush hour. This ruins everyone’s day because Cornbrook is Metrolink’s most important stop, used by trams to and from East Didsbury (including trams to and from Chorlton), Altrincham, MediaCityUK, Eccles, Bury and Rochdale.

I can’t normally be bothered to make a formal complaint (otherwise I would’ve complained about the lack of double-trams to East Didsbury a long, long time ago…rather than right this second). But yesterday morning I cracked and did just that.

Metrolink sign for Chorlton

Complaint to Metrolink

As I was stuck on the tram, I wrote a message to Metrolink customer services with three main gripes:

  1. The points have failed several times in the past fortnight at this precise point and at this exact time.
  2. Almost no information about the reasons/likely duration of the stoppage was provided to users. The driver only explained when a passenger confronted him. And even then, the information given was contradictory.
  3. The Metrolink website says there is a bus replacement service available yet this was never relayed to users.

Manchester Metrolink station at Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Metrolink response setting out Cornbrook plan

Today, Metrolink customer services replied to me. The response is actually pretty interesting and includes details of Metrolink’s proposed short-term and long-term fixes, which I’ve not seen anywhere else. Feel free to refer to it next time the points fail at Cornbrook:

Mr Frost,

The point’s issues experienced at Cornbrook this week and previous have each related to separate point sets and each fault has come with its own set of technical circumstance; there is not a consistent or persistent fault but we fully appreciate that they have collectively had a compound effect on passengers’ journeys.

The signal and points issue that has been, affect all services operating through Cornbrook. It has been a matter of utmost urgency to resolve the issues there is some urgency as it affects so many services south of the network. There is a plan which involves night time work over the next few weeks to try and get to the bottom of the issues and resolve them. You will then hopefully see an improvement to the service.

Transport for Greater Manchester have set out a dedicated team today which will be situated at Cornbrook points from 6am each morning and they will stay all day until the end of service, so if there is an issue at any point, someone will be able to rectify the problem quickly and hopefully this will not delay any more of your journeys.

Until the root cause of the issue is addressed this measure will be put in place to reduce the number of incidents running through this particular junction.

Whatever the cause of the disruption to the service may be, the management of these situations is paramount so we can offer the best advice, information and if necessary replacement to the tram service. I am sorry that your recent experiences when travelling on the Metrolink system have not be satisfactory.

From your feedback it appears on this occasion we have failed in our commitment to customer care on. For this there is no excuse and we can only once again sincerely apologise and assure you that in response, we’ve undertaken an immediate review and updated our procedures to ensure that we are not affected by a similar event.

I sincerely hope that your recent experience will not prevent you from travelling on the Metrolink system in the future.

Yours sincerely

Lauren Jackson

Customer Experience Team



  1. Please comment about the overcrowding. I have, and if more do, they may listen.


    • Totally agree about the overcrowding. That’s why I included a line above about the lack of double trams to East Didsbury. Metrolink promised double trams would start soon after the East Didsbury extension opened but they’re still a rarity 18 months later. Even at rush hour, which is unforgiveable really.


  2. Hmm… interested to see if anything does change.


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