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West Midlands failures

The much troubled Midlands Metro hit a new problem on 4th July when health and Safety Inspectors closed the street section between Priestfield and the Wolverhampton terminus. The inspectors were concerned that pedestrians could be injured if the overhead cables were brought down as a result of an accident. It is understood that the problem lies with failures of the section isolators which have been failing causing sections to become dead thus interrupting services. Even more important, and the reason for the closure, is the danger of a section being left live in case of an accident. The all important section will remain closed until the operators can convince the inspectors that the overhead is safe. This may take only a few days, or much longer if elaborate changes are required. The closure comes at a time when the line was beginning to attract more traffic following the successful opening of additional car parks along the route.

5 July 2001

The recent troubles with operations arise from design problems with the power supply system. An insulator near West Bromwich Central blew up and halted operations on 26th June. Investigations into this incident by the Railway Inspectorate indicated that the design of the insulator was at fault and that other design features were substandard. This resulted in the closure from 4th July of the street section between Priestfield and Wolverhampton since there were fears that a similar explosion there could result in possibly live cables being thrown into the street. On 5th July the Operating Company announced that all insulators of this pattern on the system would be replaced during night-time possessions when no trams are scheduled. A meeting has been arranged for 6th July with the Inspectorate to see if the Operator's rescue plan will meet the Inspectors' requirements.

The street section of Midland Metro between Priestfield and Wolverhampton St George's was able to reopen today, 6th July.
Iain D.O. Frew

6 July 2001


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