Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Mix and Match

Posted in Great Britain, Metro, Rolling stock by Chairman Pip on 18 July 2012

It’s just over thirty years since what is described as Britain’s first light rail system, the Tyne and Wear Metro, opened for business. Since then, six new systems have opened of which only one, the DLR, isn’t a tramway. Now, the first of the second generation tramways are coming up to the time where they will be replacing their original fleet, with the announcement that Metrolink are to withdraw the last of their T-68 vehicles to have a single fleet of the new M5000. Having had a think about the various light rail systems, it seems that Metrolink is in the minority when it comes to having a uniform fleet; although Midland Metro will replace its existing fleet with a new one, Supertram and Nottingham Express Transit will be purchasing new vehicles to expand their fleets as a result of the expansion of their networks, while the remainder already operate mixed fleets:

I’ve often seen rail operators dispose of vehicles for the sake of uniformity, with the intention of reducing their maintenance costs – obviously having a single fleet means you only need a single source of parts. But on the flip side, for those operators who have a relatively new fleet of vehicles and who are looking to supplement this with a few new ones, opening a production line for a small order (as would have been the case with TfL’s newest 6) would be prohibitively expensive, while replacing the entire CR4000 fleet would also be a waste. Metrolink are in the position that, with their massive network expansion, they needed a massive fleet expansion, and its original fleet is approaching the time when it would need to be significantly overhauled. Which I guess makes it swings and roundabouts as to whether it’s worth having a mixed fleet.

“Manchester’s oldest Metrolink trams to be replaced”
“Nottingham’s new tram design unveiled”
“First tram-train gets go-ahead for Sheffield to Rotherham”

A Balloon and a Flexity 2 in Blackpool – the idea of a mixed fleet may be the only option in some cases

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