#didsburydoubles – the current state of play

So, the weekend has passed and the kids are back to school. I’m working from home today so haven’t experienced the Metrolink this morning.

Travelling in last Friday…

Following that tweet, I was told by Metrolink social media that they can’t discuss the matter over social media and I should put my complaint regarding the withdrawal of double trams in writing to TfGM’s “customer services”.

Over 24 hours later, while I have received an auto-reply acknowledging receipt, I’ve yet to get a case number or any other correspondance from TfGM.

Over the weekend I noticed that the advertised Double tram service Bury – Altrincham was running as single trams. I contacted Metrolink about that too. They say that Bury – Altrincham directs are now reduced to single trams at weekends and their own timetable is wrong!

What on earth is going on at TfGM and Metrolink towers?

I do wonder if the running of lots and lots of double trams (Bury-Dids, Alty-Etihad, Eccles line) during the period of “contraflow” on Mosely Street while St Peter’s Square was closed has actually caused the fleet to accumulate mileage quicker than anticipated, and the operation of single trams now is what is known in the industry as mileage conservation – stretching the period of time between planned examination and servicing by those affected trams running fewer miles.

This is also common in the aviation industry, where aircraft undergo checks based on hours flown – an aircraft approaching a major maintenance check can be put on restricted use, so it’s only used if absolutely necessary, until it’s place in the hangar is assured.

Back to the main subject, the loss of the much needed double trams from the Didsbury line, it seems people are still experiencing unpleasant journeys on overcrowded trams.

Here’s a quick scan of social media from this morning:

It’s also not just the Didsbury line. Eccles line users are grumpy too. Both about the basic quality of the service, and the fact that Eccles line trams don’t serve MediaCity UK for the majority of the day, which seems like a total chocolate teapot.

One can only imagine the answer to the question below:

What seems to be getting people’s hackles up further is the way we’re being talked down to by TfGM and Metrolink. The tone of the replies is like a parent trying to placate a child having a tantrum, rather than accept and acknowledge there has been a service delivery failure and that something positive will be done:

I don’t blame the people running the social media accounts at TfGM and Metrolink. I accept their hands are somewhat tied by the decisions of their bosses. But they need to stop talking down to us. We need to see there is some action being taken, rather than head-in-sand apologism.

However this particular exchange seems at least churlish, and possibly out-of-order, especially for a public servant talking to a member of the public they are meant to be working on behalf of. Maybe it’s a chink in the armour, showing that tempers are even getting frayed at Metrolink HQ, behind the calm veneer of the “Shush, shush… Everything’s okay, it will be all fine once 2CC opens” party-line:

What seems to be worse still is that at least one Didsbury councillor is acting as a TfGM apologist rather than representing their constituents:

Evidently, according to Andrew, we should just shut up and be grateful that we even have a tram:

This goes on to the extent that he’s openly disagreeing with other Manchester City Councillors from neighbouring wards who agree with residents that the new single tram service is a retrograde step:

Why would you change at Cornbrook and St Werburghs if you had the choice of a direct tram? The above feels like a load of old tosh. Also note that Andrew’s tweets there were sent from outside of Manchester, so it seems that he can’t have experienced this new single tram overcrowded fiasco for himself recently if he’s been out of town.

I’m honestly glad I’m not in the East Didsbury ward if that’s the standard of representation I can expect.

So what next?

Metrolink wish we would put up and shut up.

TfGM wish we would put up and shut up.

Now, one of our elected representatives also seems to wish we would put up and shut up – rather than doing what he’s been elected to do!

Remind me that we’re meant to be living in a democracy? Remind me that public servants are meant to be accountable?

A former BBC journalist friend said “Don’t give up. Keep kicking off. Make as much noise as you can until they open a proper two-way dialogue with you.”

We need to make as much noise as we possibly can until we are listened to on this issue:

  • Please tweet about your overcrowding experiences, and use the hashtag #didsburydoubles, so the trend is visible.
  • Tweet Metrolink every time you experience an overcrowded Didsbury line tram.
  • Please retweet what others say as well so we’re reaching as many people as possible.
  • Write to TfGM – customer.relations@tfgm.com – request that a formal complaint is opened.
  • Write to your Councillors – use www.writetothem.com

2 thoughts on “#didsburydoubles – the current state of play”

  1. I didn’t say anything about shutting up about your Metrolink issues!

    To reiterate my point of view:

    Public transport from Didsbury to Manchester is a lot better now than four years ago when we had only buses and trains and no Metrolink.

    I travelled into town during the rush hour this morning, got a seat, and went straight to St Peter’s Square from Didsbury Village in exactly 20 minutes. My personal view is that having a tram every six minutes is better than one every twelve minutes even if it is half the length. It’s the same capacity as before the August bank holiday but more frequent and goes into St Peter’s Square once again. It feels like progress to me.

    And as Metrolink continues to bring in additional rolling stock I hope that they will soon be bringing back double trams too.

    And if any constituents do want to discuss this with me I have my monthly advice surgery at Didsbury library this Saturday from 11.30.

    Andrew Simcock

    1. Andrew, thank you for taking advantage of your right to reply. You are entitled to have your own opinion, it just feels disappointing that it seems so out of step with many others who think the service changes are a retrograde move, when as you rightly say so much has been achieved in recent years.

      I disagree that the capacity is the same. The 6 minute service is a load of disingenuous and patronising spin. The Deansgate tram is only semi-useful for the reasons already stated.

      My point of view, to which I’m entitled, is that the current service represents a significant reduction in the capacity for the primary peak hour flow on the Didsbury line, which seems to be to St Peters Square, and cross-city to Market St and Shudehill. This is what I’ve observed from my own commutes.

      If the Deansgate trams were extended to Victoria or Piccadilly, I think I might be more inclined to accept the point of view that capacity is the same or similar.

      It does not change my opinion that TfGM are acting in an opaque and evasive manner on the issue, refusing to admit they might have misjudged something. That I feel is unacceptable for a public body such as TfGM, which should behave in a transparent and accountable way to those it purports to serve.

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