Report 25/2009: Derailment at St Peter's Square

Derailment at St Peter's Square, Manchester, 29 June 2008


On Sunday 29 June 2008 at approximately 23:30 hrs the middle bogie of a tram derailed and travelled 90 metres before coming to rest having partially mounted a pavement. A number of passengers suffered minor injuries.

The immediate cause of the derailment was failure of the rail’s keep (a flange designed to prevent the road surface from fouling the wheels) allowing the wheels to move outside their guided path, and eventually to derail.

This was because of:

  • a lack of processes, and of technical criteria, within the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE - the asset owner) and Stagecoach Metrolink (the operator and maintainer) to give guidance on how to handle the track in Manchester city centre when it was in a poor condition
  • the previous contractual arrangements between GMPTE and Serco (the previous operator of the system) which allowed the city centre track to deteriorate beyond acceptable maintenance limits
  • the city centre track being allowed to continue in a poor condition as a result of neither GMPTE nor Stagecoach Metrolink implementing a programme of renewals, nor carrying out sufficient interim maintenance
  • GMPTE and Stagecoach Metrolink allowing tram traffic to continue in the city centre when the track was beyond acceptable maintenance limits
  • the contract between GMPTE and SML; the health and safety arrangements of both GMPTE Metrolink and SML.

As a consequence of this accident, RAIB has made four recommendations targeted at the GMPTE, Stagecoach Metrolink (the operator and maintainer) and the ORR. These relate to maintaining the track within defined limits, safety management arrangements, and the regulation of duty holders.

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.

RAIB Recommendation response for St Peters Square

Published 10 December 2014