"Midland Metro Progress Report"
from the January 1999 edition of
Tramways & Urban Transit

written by Geoff Lusher

Geoff Lusher is General Manager of Travel Midland Metro, a subsidiary of National Express Group/West Midlands Travel and is the company which will operate Midland Metro for the concessionaires, Altram Ltd.

The frenetic pace of life here at Travel Midland Metro took a further turn upwards with the commencement of our programme of emergency exercises, which will continue into the Trial Period up to the start of public service. No less than 36 exercises will need to be undertaken in this period, simulating all aspects of system failure and accidents, with the aim of testing the operator's procedures and the competence of our staff at all levels. Railway Inspectorate and the emergency services will participate in a number of these exercises, and Andy Morris, our Operations Manager has launched an appeal for the public to come forward and act as "guinea pigs" in the emergency dertrainment, stop evacuation and other exercises requiring simulated passengers. Response to this appeal has been encouraging, and I believe we also may receive support in this area from LRTA members! (Please contact Andy on 0121 502 2006).

The very dramatic figure of Sleipnir, the legendary eight-legged horse appeared on the hill adjacent to Metro Centre in early November, and is visible for miles around. This is an example of Altram's contribution to enhancement of the environment along Midland Metro, being part of the high specification for our line laid down by Centro. Other examples of Altram expenditure under the public art budget are the lighting of the Wishbone Bridge in Wolverhampton Town Centre and the attractive fencing and railings at the Outer Circle tram stop, designed with the help of artists by our neighbours, the children of James Watt Infants' and Junior School.

Only tram 16, which will be owned by Altram, is now outstanding, 11 November 1998 having seen the delivery to Wednesbury of both trams 14 and 15. A lot of work remains to be done on preparing the fleet for public service, and a large number of modifications is being undertaken on site by teams from Firema and Ansaldo. A new element in this equation has been the need to comply with the Rail Vehicles Accessibility Regulations which will apply to all classes of vehicles entering service after 31 December 1998. Ansaldo's T69 tram is largely compliant, and a number of minor internal modifications are being considered. One interesting aspect is the need for the whole of the passenger door to be in contrasting colour to the bodyside, and this will necessitate a slight redesign of our external livery on the lower part of the doors.

Visits have increased in number, so much so that we are having to consider refusing requests for visits in the busy period leading up to public opening. We welcomed LRTA, as part of their AGM weekend, on 1 November followed by a technical visit from the Light Rail' 98 Conference later in November. The British Members of UIPT also visited Midland Metro in November.

Next month - an integrated fare structure.

Geoff Lusher, General Manager, Travel Midland Metro

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