Manchester: Something old, something new on the rails.

Metrolink 1003 at Ladywell, by David Monaghan.

This post really is all about the pictures.

Railfans have a penchant for spotting the rare, the unusual, especially where liveries are concerned. These photos certainly qualify, as they show what is, to my knowledge, the first and thus far only member of Manchester’s first generation T68/T68A light rail vehicles to be formally repainted in the yellow and silver paint scheme adopted for the new Bombardier M5000 trams and Metrolink’s corporate rebranding.

I wasn’t surprised that the move was coming — after all, at least one promotional image showed both the old and the new trams wearing the updated livery, as seen here — but I wasn’t aware any of the Ansaldo trams actually had been repainted until I saw David Monaghan’s images of car 1003 posted on the Friends of Heaton Park Tramway Facebook group the other day. David was kind enough to let me share these images here. All were, he notes, taken on Sunday 19th February 2012 at various locations along the Eccles route, between Media City UK and Ladywell stations. It was, you will note, a beautifully sunny day in Manchester — not, as it turns out, such a contradiction after all.

M5000 tram 3006 loads at Manchester Piccadilly, 29 January 2012.

Unfortunately, I really didn’t spend any time railfanning Metrolink during my recent UK trip, making only a single round-trip out to Heaton Park, as duly and copiously noted elsewhere. In fact, the image at right is the best of a handful of mediocre shots I snapped whilst waiting for my ride from Picadilly to Heaton. Alas, after all my blog posts and excitement over these new trams, I didn’t even ride one of them, having been transported to and from the park on Ansaldo cars in the old livery.

David’s photos, then, offer a tantalising glimpse of what is to come, as T68/a cars work their way through the upgrade process over the next few years. Tramoraks will thus have the opportunity to record vehicles in two liveries operating side-by-side as overhauls continue and the system undergoes an exciting period of expansion. So we see here.

Oh, and before we move on to more of David’s photos: You’ll note that I referred to 1003 as the first car formally repainted in the new scheme. As reported on the T68 Wikipedia page and also here, car 1015 received a temporary version of the new colours (and a temporary, fictional road number, 1030) in connection with its appearance on a certain soap opera which featured a tram crash as part of its 50th anniversary storyline. I don’t need to mention the name. You know what show it is.

Writes David of his photos: “Not many side on views of 1003 i’m afraid it was just a case of catch the tram and shoot the image (and it’s my first SLR camera so still on a learning curve with it).”

You are too humble, sir. Lots of great views here, and I thank you for sharing them. Readers: Click the images to view them in their full, crisp glory.

A sun-drenched view at Media City. It doesn't always rain in Manchester.

Near Harbour City.

I think the new livery is particularly flattering from this angle.

Contrasting liveries as 2003 and 3016 meet at Media City.

I really love this shot of 2003 and 3010 gliding past one another. Not having ridden an M5000 yet, my only critique is that their electronic destination signs aren't the most photogenic I've seen -- a minor gripe, I concede!

T68A car 2003 departs Ladywell, where a conspicuous CCTV camera stands guard on a sunny Sunday morning.

We close with an attractive three-quarters view of 5000 car 3015 at Langworthy, showing the side treatment to good effect as well as Manchester's railway-level platform doors.

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4 Responses to Manchester: Something old, something new on the rails.

  1. James McCollom says:

    I managed to take a picture in the snow at Deansgate-Castlefield – bit of a rush shot, apologies for the mast! 1003 appeared before Christmas with a red “MCR XMAS” advert between the cabs but has since been replaced with a blue Imperial War Museum of the North advert.

    • DuPuis says:

      I rather like that shot, James. Thanks! One of the photographic drawbacks of many new UK tramways, I’ve found, is the prevalence of those bloody centre masts! That and bollards. First world problems, you know …

      • James McCollom says:

        This new style of advertising works really rather well – and presumably the income from the advertising helped offset the cost of bringing the new livery to the old tram.

  2. Christine H. says:

    Great photos. They make Manchester look so glamorous!

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