At 08:03 hrs on 22 March 2006, two axles of a tram travelling from Bury to Altrincham became derailed as the tram entered the street running section of the Metrolink network at Long Millgate, near Victoria station. The derailed wheels remained close to the track, and the tram stopped 44 metres from the point of derailment. There were 200 passengers on board. There were no injuries and no damage to the tram; there was minor damage to the track.
The immediate cause of the accident was the failure of a repaired section of track at the transition between two types of rail. The repair to the track had been undertaken without appropriate controls design change process or quality control of the work done, and there were contributing factors related to the design and material of the track.
RAIB have made four recommendations to the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) covering the design, maintenance and renewal of the track on the Metrolink system as a result of its investigation. They concern:
- The development and implementation of and appropriate standard for grooved rail track, including tolerances and limits for wear and gauge; and guidance to inspection staff on appropriate levels and types of intervention.
- The assessment of the risk of transitions between flat bottomed and grooved rail on curves, and the repositioning of the transitions onto straight track where this is warranted and it is reasonably practicable to do so.
- The introduction of system for initiating, planning and implementing track renewals.
- Review of infrastructure design change and quality control procedures.
Response to recommendations:
- RAIB will periodically update the status of recommendations as reported to us by the relevant safety authority or public body.
- RAIB may add comment, particularly if we have concerns regarding these responses.