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Metrolink introduces real-time information displays

Information displays at Manchester Metrolink’s city centre stops are finally working, following the delayed roll-out of the network’s new tram management system.

Passengers will be able to see the time of the next tram, its destination, and any other special announcements or warnings about disruption to services.

Cllr Andrew Fender, chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said: “We know that passengers want to be kept informed at all times and providing real-time information on when their next tram will arrive is crucial to that.

“In order to provide that, we’ve had to change the way the network operates behind the scenes. That’s been a massive challenge, especially on a ‘live’ network, but we are now starting to see the fruits of that labour through these new displays.

“The new tram management system will enable us to run more trams, more frequently and in more effective ways than before, particularly when the network is at its busiest or in response to any disruption.”

In an interview with RTM in April, TfGM chief executive Dr Jon Lamonte had told us: “To say there aren’t challenges wouldn’t be true. We still have the signalling system issues; we’re not fully operating our tram management system yet; there are some significant bits of work to do over the next few months. But that is the key to unlocking the fully functioning system we all want to see.

“We’re hoping to see the East Didsbury extension open early this summer, Rochdale and Oldham town centres at the back end of this year, and the extension to Ashton, then we can get on with the airport line, and I’m hoping we can get Government go-ahead for a Trafford line.”

On the tram management system and the passenger information displays, he told us then: “We’re absolutely trying to get those passenger information displays to work. It is part of the overall tram management system that we’re contracted to Thales for. Part of that is to get those displays up and running, and we’ll make every effort to do that.”

As part of the changes to the network, the Mosley Street city centre stop is to be closed to ease a bottleneck in the system. The move will improve journey times and allow the new fleet of trams to run as double trams, boosting capacity.

The closure has been approved by TfGMC, the DfT and the ORR.

Peter Cushing, TfGM’s Metrolink director, said: “Mosley Street only serves trams in one direction, and is the only split-level platform left on the network, which means only the older trams can call there as double trams.

“As the network has expanded, this has presented a bottleneck in the city centre, and also means we can’t run our new trams as doubles on services to Altrincham, Eccles, Chorlton and, in the near future, East Didsbury.

“Closing the stop removes both problems and also offers journey time savings, protects the reliability of services and opens up the immediate area to improve pedestrian access to local businesses.

“It also means, in future, we will be able to run more double trams through the city centre, which will provide more room for passengers.”

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