I really, really, really need to stop doing this. Firstly, my last post was in November making this my 4th Metrolink-related blog in a row. But this time, it’s especially..special. It marked the closure of Victoria (as we know it) for 9 months, the end of Ashton-Bury workings, and the end of T68′s running to Altrincham and in the city centre.
22 years after first departing Bury, a T68 left Altrincham for the very last time. This honour fell to 2001, which worked to Victoria only to run the short distance to Queens Road depot. 2003 worked the last full direct route. The fire isn’t completely dead though, as from Monday they’ll be on Bury-Abraham Moss shuttle services (replacing what would go to Ashton) while Victoria is reduced to one-line passthrough. Meaning every working on directs will be doubles, from start of service to the end of service.
The for next 9 months (we hope), the two T68a’s will be running this shuttle service – with some help from their little brothers, the M5000′s – and all services that would go to Bury from Ashton are being diverted to Eccles. It makes sense really as previously to the EML opening three services terminated at Piccadilly: Bury-Piccadilly, Eccles-Piccadilly, MediaCityUK-Piccadilly.
When the EML line opened, I wondered if they’d ever extend the Eccles-Piccadilly line to terminate at Ashton, giving Ashtonians a 6-minute headway service to Piccadilly Gardens. I suppose this is down to the rolling stock they have available, as they’ve somehow managed to get doubles all-day on directs, when they couldn’t (or didn’t bother to, at least) a few months ago. Whether the – I’ve not looked at a map – shorter line to Eccles means that less trams are needed and these units are the ones they’re going to use, or if they’ve miraculously commissioned all of their recent deliveries quickly. But that begs the question, why didn’t they do it earlier and put them into service when they’re ready, instead of launching them all at once. Monday will be a good day to see what units they’ve got and to see if any recent deliveries are in service.
Below are pictures from my day. Quite a few good ones, but – again – I’ve left in the ones that are blurry and ones that I didn’t have time to set the settings on the camera in time.
Hi-res images are available by clicking here.