EXCLUSIVE: TfL refuses to say what caused the damage to the wheels of its tram fleet which forced their withdrawal from service this week.
By our transport correspondent, JEREMY CLACKSON
One-fifth of the London trams’ operational fleet had to be removed from service for emergency repairs to the vehicles’ wheels, Inside Croydon has discovered.
Transport for London this week issued a passenger warning that services on the tram network would be “significantly disrupted” as trams were removed from service for repairs after some were found to have damage to their wheels.
TfL has today confirmed that seven trams had to be removed from service for urgent safety repairs.
The tram system, which runs services from Wimbledon in the west to Beckenham Junction in the east, through Sutton, Mitcham and Croydon and out to New Addington, has 34 trams currently functioning – 22 of the original Bombardier stock which have been trundling along the 17-mile network since it opened in 2000, plus 12 Variobahn trams which were purchased between 2012 and 2015.
Of the trams taken out of service because of wheel damage, three continue to undergo repairs at the Therapia Lane depot
In a deliberately vague, detail-lite response to questions from Inside Croydon, TfL refused to say what had caused the wheel damage to the 40-ton vehicles.
They said, “There were initially seven trams taken out of service with damage to wheels but this has since reduced to three.
“Regular track walks are carried out and TfL is confident it has discovered the cause of the damage following an investigation.
“No further damage has been caused since the trams were initially taken out of service.”
There has been some speculation that the damage may have been caused on some recently re-laid track, the use of sand for improved traction, or even because of some deliberate vandalism of the tracks.
“Safety is TfL’s No1 priority,” said a spokesperson,” and routine inspections are carried out on the entire tram fleet – these discovered the damage to the wheels.”
TfL’s trams manager, Mark Davis, said, “We apologise to London Trams customers whose journeys have been affected by delays this week.
“Wheels on some trams were found to be damaged earlier in the week, and although they were running safely, the trams were taken out of service for necessary repairs. Our fleet team are working hard to restore a full service.”
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