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Ansaldo Firema T-68/T-68A
1011turns off Mosley Street.jpg
T-68 Interior.jpg
The interior of a T-68
In service 1992–2014
Manufacturer AnsaldoBreda
Built at Naples, Italy
Family name Firema
Constructed 1991–1992, 1999
Refurbishment 2007–2010 midlife refurbishment, T-68 gain retractable couplers and covered bogies.
2010–2012 reliability modifications, LCD screens, LED lights, driver's cab air conditioning
Number built T-68: 26
T-68A: 6
Number preserved 1
Number scrapped 25
Formation 2 carriages
Fleet numbers T-68: 1001-1026
T-68A: 2001-2006
Capacity 82/4 seats, 122 standing per vehicle
Operator Metrolink
Line(s) served Altrincham, Bury, Eccles
Car body construction Aluminium
Car length 29 m (95 ft 2 in)
Width 2.65 m (8 ft 8 in)
Height 3.7 m (12 ft 2 in)
Articulated sections 2
Maximum speed 50 mph (80 km/h)
Weight 45 tonnes (44 long tons; 50 short tons) per vehicle
Electric system(s) 750 V DC OHLE
Current collection method Pantograph
Type: Brecknell Willis High Reach
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Traction motors T-68 4x 105 kW (141 hp) separately excited DC motors,
T-68A 4x 120 kW (160 hp) three–phase AC motors

The T-68 is a model of light rail passenger vehicle that operated on the Manchester Metrolink network between 1992 to 2014. It is part of the Firema range of vehicles, built specifically as a high-floor, articulated bi-directional tram to operate solely on the Metrolink system in Greater Manchester, England. T-68s were constructed by the Italian manufacturer AnsaldoBreda at their factory in Naples, Italy, and first brought into service in 1992.[1]

The vehicles are atypical of vehicles used on light rail systems throughout the world, in that they are accessed by doors at a height of 0.9 metres (2 ft 11 in) from the ground, in order to be compatible with standard high-floor heavy railway platforms in the UK, as were inherited by Metrolink.

Six modified variants of the T-68 (known as the T-68A) were introduced to Metrolink in 1999. In July 2012 it was announced by Transport for Greater Manchester (the owner of Metrolink) that all T-68 and T-68A vehicles would be phased out of service and replaced with the Bombardier-built M5000 vehicle by 2014. The last T-68 made its final journey on 26 May 2014.[2]


A single car prototype bodyshell numbered 1000 and given the name The Larry Sullivan was built in Italy in 1990 and delivered to Manchester for public exhibition to promote the system. It featured an orange and white GMPTE livery. The tram was later reliveried in the first Metrolink livery and it is now preserved and displayed at the Museum of Transport, Greater Manchester. The T-68, the first variant of the T-68 design, was introduced to Greater Manchester in 1991. 25 entered service altogether and were numbered from 1001 to 1025. Soon after, an additional vehicle, 1026, was introduced to simplify scheduling problems. When the Eccles line opened three of the vehicles were modified to run alongside the new T-68s; these were 1005, 1010 and 1015. Since then, several vehicles have been modified; these are 1001–1017 and 1021–1026. This means that the remaining three vehicles - 1018, 1019 and 1020 - have never performed an Eccles service.

All the modified T-68s were designated T-68-M (Modified) but this designation is rarely used publicly. The modifications include retractable couplers, covered bogies, and several other electronic modifications. All the T-68s are built with retractable steps; this is because Manchester's city stops were originally low height at the rear of the platform and passengers alighting from the rear unit of a double tram would need assistance from one of these steps. They are therefore only accessible from the rear tram of a double unit, although since then, the city centre stops have been rebuilt meaning that the only chance passengers had to use these steps was at Mosley Street, though this stop closed in May 2013.

Vehicle 1007 has non standard seating for the first series trams with higher backs and more rounded grab handles. The tram was named East Lancashire Railway at a ceremony held at Bury Interchange by Pete Waterman on 31 May 2009.

As of February 2014, all T68s have been withdrawn from public service. The final T-68A was withdrawn on 30 April 2014.


The T-68As were introduced in 1999 for use on the Eccles line. Six were built numbered 2001–2006. They were built with a version of all the modifications the T-68s received, so that they met all the requirements for street running on the Eccles line. Since more T-68Ms have been brought into service, the T-68As have been seen on more of the lines. The trams only ever operate as single units - this is due to a fault in the T-68As that prevent them from coupling to other units.

Vehicle 2001 was stored for several years as it developed a fault with the emergency brakes applying regularly without instruction to do so. The vehicle was completely rewired and brought back into service during 2011.


Currently, the trams wear a livery of turquoise doors, white body and grey 'skirts'. This livery was also applied to the stations. This livery has been used since the Metrolink opened.

In October 2008, a new corporate livery was created, in anticipation of the introduction of the new Bombardier M5000 Flexity Swift trams to the network.[3] The new livery consists of a yellow front, with yellow and silver sides, with black doors. The livery was created by Hemisphere Design and Marketing Consultants of Manchester and is similar in design to the Merseyrail trains in Liverpool. The older trams are now due to be withdrawn and will no longer carry this livery, however 1003 carried it as part of a full-body vinyl advertisement until its withdrawal.[4] All of the city centre, Altrincham, and Eccles stops, as well as the majority of stops on the Bury line, have been refurbished and now display the new look.


Twenty-three of the T-68s have at some point had name plates, named after famous Mancunian people, achievements, places or company sponsorship.


It was announced in July 2012 that Metrolink would be replacing all of the T-68/T-68A trams with M5000s. This is now complete as of 30th April 2014, with T-68A vehicles number 2001 and 2003 carrying out the final 16 hour diagrams in public service.

Unit Date withdrawn Fate Notes
1001 7 August 2012 Moved to Trafford Depot
1002 18 November 2013
1003 12 November 2013 Traction failure
1004 16 May 2012 Storage and spares recovery
1005 22 June 2012 Used for driver training at Old Trafford
1006 30 August 2012 Storage
1007  ?? February 2012
1008 14 June 2012 Storage
1010 2 September 2012 Storage
1011 Used for Red Bull Trials
  • 1009 became the 20th T-68 to be withdrawn. The vehicle had last run back on 2 December when it operated on the Eccles line and it had been stopped awaiting tyre turning and a traction motor change but it has now been decided not to undertake this work. [7]
  • 1011 was withdrawn from service on 18 April 2012, stripped of all reusable components, and reliveried in the yellow and silver colours ahead of a starring role in the Red Bull Trials held in Manchester city centre on 21 September. This saw the tram split in two and used as an obstacle in the bike trial. Following the completion of this the tram was removed by haulier to Booths in Rotherham for scrapping, this becoming not only the first second-generation UK tram to be withdrawn, but also to be scrapped.
  • * 1012 was officially withdrawn from service on 31 December 2013 having last run on 26 December when it failed with a compressor problem. It remains at Queens Road Depot awaiting transportation to Trafford Depot. [8]
  • 1013 was withdrawn on 2 December 2013 having last operated on the same day. It has been moved to Trafford Depot to await scrapping.
  • 1014 was withdrawn on 11 June 2013 following a couple of weeks out of service. It was the 13th to be taken out of service and last operated in service on 29 May 2013 as part of a double unit. It remains at Queens Road.
  • 1015 was withdrawn from service on Thursday 20 September after operating Bury-Altrincham direct services coupled to 1012 in the afternoon peak. This was the 9th T-68 to be withdrawn. It has now been moved to Trafford Depot for storage.
  • 1016 was withdrawn from service in February 2014. Along with 1007 and 1022, it was the final T68 to be withdrawn from service.
  • 1017 was discovered in Queens Road yard on 20 January with a dropped pantograph which was found to be down to a failed compressor.
  • 1018 was withdrawn from service on Thursday 9 August 2012 - the 6th of the T-68s to be taken out of service. It has now been moved to Trafford Depot for storage and further component recovery.
  • 1019 was withdrawn from service on Thursday 27 September after working on the Bury to Altrincham service with 1020 - the 10th to be withdrawn from service. It has now been moved to Trafford Depot for storage.
  • 1020 became the 11th T-68 to be withdrawn from service on 2 November 2012. It last worked on the Bury-Piccadilly service on 31 October 2012 and has now been moved to Trafford Depot for storage. The Lancashire Fusilier nameplates and crests have been removed from the vehicle and were fitted to 3020 on 16 March 2013.[9]
  • 1021 became the 15th withdrawal after failing in service on 5 November 2013. It currently remains at Queens Road Depot ahead of movement to Trafford Depot for further storage.
  • 1022 was withdrawn from service in February 2014. Along with 1007 and 1016, it was the final T68 to be withdrawn from service.
  • 1023 remains serviceable but is currently sat on bogies with tyres which are very close to scrapping size and it was due to be the next to be withdrawn anyway
  • 1024 was withdrawn after operating on Friday 9 August - the 14th to be taken out of service. It remains at Queen's Road depot.
  • 1025 was withdrawn from passenger service having operated on 15 January 2013 - the 12th to be withdrawn. Unlike the others taken out of service the tram initially retained its TMS and VRS equipment and had a special pantograph fitted so it could be used for ice breaking duties. This was, however, short-lived and the tram had its TMS/VRS equipment removed in mid March 2013 and it was then moved to Trafford Depot on 23 March for storage.
  • 1026 was withdrawn on 2 December 2013 having last operated a couple of weeks previously. It has been moved to Trafford Depot for storage.
  • 2001 was withdrawn on 30 April 2014 having run its last journey on the Bury to Abraham Moss line.
  • 2002 was withdrawn from service after operating on the Eccles line on 24 April 2013 - the 3rd of the original 6 T-68As to be taken out of service. It has now been moved to Trafford depot for storage.
  • 2003 was withdrawn on 30 April 2014 having run its last journey on the Bury to Abraham Moss line.
  • 2004 was officially withdrawn from service on 12 April 2013 having spent the previous couple of weeks out of service - the second T-68A to be taken out of service. It last ran in service on 28 March 2013. It was noted in Booths Scrap Yard on 3 April partially cut.
  • 2005 was withdrawn from service having operated on 9 May 2013 - the 4th of the T-68As to be removed from operational status. It has now been moved to Trafford depot for storage.
  • 2006 became the 1st T-68A to be withdrawn when it was officially taken out of service on 4 April 2013 following a failure the previous day on the Eccles line. It is now stored at Trafford Depot.

Farewell Tour[edit]

Soon after the last T-68As left public service, Metrolink announced a final run for the T-68 through Manchester. The tour was to take place on Bank Holiday Monday 26th May 2014, and feature 2 LRVs with numbers 1007 and 1016 taking part, 1007 being the first tram to run on the system when opened in 1992. It was also announced shortly afterwards by Metrolink Director Peter Cushing via Twitter that 1007 would be preserved as part of the fleet at Heaton Park Tramway, with a handover ceremony as part of the tour.

Tickets were limited to 180 places (capacity for a T-68 all seated is 86 persons, leaving 4 standing passengers per LRV) and once released for sale sold out within hours. People from all across the UK lined up to buy tickets for the final run, with all proceeds going to Christie Hospital and Francis House Hospice.

The LRVs ran along the "classic" routes for the system, from Piccadilly - Mediacity UK - Eccles - Mediacity UK - Bury - Altrincham and return to Piccadilly. On the journey back from Bury to Altrincham, there was a stopover at Heaton Park where 1007 was officially handed over from Metrolink to Heaton Park Tramway, with 1007 still retaining her "East Lancashire Railway" name. 1016 which had been previously unnamed was given the name "Farewell T-68" especially for the tour, with both units turned out in their "funeral best", and were driven by the same drivers who drove the first services back in 1992. The event was well organised and smoothly run, with the T-68s fitting in well between services on the public holiday timetable.

After the tour, both 1007 and 1016 returned to their traditional home base at Queens Road depot, and Manchester bid farewell to one of its icons of recent history. It is unknown where the two LRVs will go to from here, however 1016 is destined for the scrap line.


Date Tram(s) involved Location Type Details
12 August 1996 1006 Victoria Collision and derailment A Dutch lorry driver, who was lost, passed a red traffic light and crashed into the tram, derailing the leading bogie
31 August 2004  ???? Shudehill Derailment A rail keep failed on a curve, causing the tram to derail
11 January 2005  ???? London Road Derailment A rail keep failed on a curve, causing the tram to derail
22 March 2006 1011 Long Millgate Derailment Damaged rails caused two wheel sets to derail
20 May 2006  ???? Market Street Person hit A man was trapped under a tram causing a three hour delay[10]
8 October 2006  ???? Windmill Street / Lower Mosely Street Person hit Penda Otoo-Kati, of Parsonage Road, Withington, was hit by a tram near the G-Mex, at the junction of Windmill Street and Lower Moseley Street. He was taken to Manchester Royal Infirmary where he was pronounced dead
17 January 2007 1005 Pomona Derailment Out of gauge rails on a corner caused the tram to derail[11]
29 June 2008 1016
St. Peter's Square Derailment Damaged rails due to wear, caused tram 1016 (the rear unit of the tram) to derail on a corner, and hit the overhead power lines[12]
30 October 2010 1008 Market Street Derailment  ?
 ?? February 2011 1016 Mosley Street Collision A car collided with the tram[13]
26 February 2011  ???? Mosley Street Collision A car collided with the tram. The driver was then arrested on suspicion of driving while disqualified[14]
5 June 2011 1002 Piccadilly Gardens Person hit A 67 year old man slipped as he ran in front of the tram & was hit by the tram; the man later died in hospital [15]
7 June 2011 1021 Market Street Derailment A set of points were blocked by litter, causing the front of the tram to derail
5 September 2011  ?002 High Street Person hit A 25 year old woman was hit, and suffered a minor injury to one of her eyes[16]
8 June 2013 1016 Mosley Street Collision A car collided with the tram, and two of the five people in the car sustained minor injuries, and were taken to hospital[17]
10 January 2014 1017 Exchange Quay Collision A car collided with the tram. The car driver suffered minor injuries.[18]


In December 2010 the television programme Coronation Street, a T-68 was used in the 50th anniversary of the show to portray a tram crash on the street. As well as a mock-up tram for scenes after the crash, real life Manchester Metrolink T-68 1015 was also used, given the fleet number 1030 (although this fleet number doesn't really exist) and temporary vinyl wrapped in the new livery.[19]


  1. ^ "Metrolink Trams". TheTrams.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-06-08. 
  2. ^ "Historic day as Metrolink tram enthusiasts make final trip on the T68". Manchester Evening News. 26 May 2014. Retrieved 2014-05-31. 
  3. ^ RAIL Issue 603
  4. ^ Kirby, Dean (22 January 2012). "Metrolink chiefs review plans to replace 'unreliable' older trams after four break down in a fortnight". MEN Media. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 
  5. ^ http://www.flickr.com/photos/dwbphotos/5550473128/
  6. ^ https://www.flickr.com/photos/47118s-pixs/6825235959/
  7. ^ "Metrolink T-68 1009 withdrawn". British Trams Online. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  8. ^ "2013 ends with another T68 withdrawal". British Trams Online. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  9. ^ "M5000 3020 named Lancashire Fusiliers". British Trams Online. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  10. ^ "TfGMC 2006 Metrolink Performance". 11 August 2006. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  11. ^ "RAIB, Derailment of a tram at Pomona". April 2008. Retrieved 9 June 2013. 
  12. ^ "RAIB, Derailment at St Peter's Square". February 2011. Retrieved 9 June 2013. 
  13. ^ "Mosley Street Metrolink Crash Hotspot". Manchester Evening News. 18 June 2011. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  14. ^ "Car Crashes Into Side of City Centre Tram". Manchester Evening News. 1 March 2011. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  15. ^ "Rail Accident Report - Fatal accident at Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, 5 June 2011". Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  16. ^ "Woman, 25, escapes serious injury after she is hit by Metrolink tram". Manchester Evening News. 5 September 2011. Retrieved 9 June 2013. 
  17. ^ Britton, Paul (8 June 2013). "Two people freed by fire crews after car collides with Metrolink tram in city centre". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  18. ^ "Severe delays after collision between Metrolink tram and car in Salford". Manchester Evening News. 
  19. ^ "Coronation Street Tram Crash 6th December 2010 - Tram 1015 Burma Star (Marked up as tram 1030 on the show)". Flickr. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 

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