The Metrolink tram network across Greater Manchester has a new boss.
Guillaume Chanussot, 36, has been appointed as the new managing director by operator KeolisAmey, the joint venture awarded the 10-year contract to operate Metrolink in 2017.
He joined the Keolis Group in 2010 and has worked for the company in senior financial roles in the Middle East, the Netherlands and at its Paris headquarters before being appointed finance director two years ago.
Mr Chanussot takes over with immediate effect from Aline Frantzen, who held the position from the start of the 10-year contract.
The Metrolink is a daily part of the lives of many thousands of people across Manchester.
Department for Transport data proves the city region’s tram system remains far and away the most popular outside London.
There were 43.7 million Metrolink journeys in the year to March this year – up from 41.2 million in the previous financial year.
And next year the network will get even bigger with the Trafford Park extension due to open.
The £350m project will run from the existing stop at Pomona to a new one at the Trafford Centre.
Trams will stop at Village Way, close to Village Circle roundabout, the Imperial War Museum, Wharfside, near Manchester United’s Old Trafford home, at the Parkway Circle roundabout, where there will also be a large park and ride facility, next to EventCity and on Barton Dock Road at the Trafford Centre.
But like any large infrastructure and transport system, it’s not without its problems and issues.
We asked Mr Chanussot a series of questions relating to performance, crime, future expansion and reliability.
1: What is at the top of your to-do list?
I have three things at the top of my to-do list to help keep Greater Manchester moving and growing every day.
1. Maintaining a safe network is my number one priority.
2. Ensuring improved customer satisfaction.
3. Supporting Transport for Greater Manchester to expand and develop the network and make this happen for Greater Manchester.
2: Can there be more double trams at rush-hour and why aren’t extra services put on for football or cricket matches? What can be done to mitigate rush-hour overcrowding, which is a daily occurrence reported to us?
“It’s vital that our customers have a pleasant experience using Metrolink but we accept that crowding at peak times, particularly in the morning, is a challenge.
“We are continually working with TfGM to address this, while also taking steps to mitigate it long term. We have 27 new trams on order – a significant enhancement to our fleet of 120 – and these will start to arrive in 2020.
“In the meantime, we’re utilising the fleet to run as many trams as possible in areas where demand is greatest. We constantly monitor the network and are, and will continue to be, responsive to changes and will continue to use the trams available to us to keep Greater Manchester moving.”
3: Just one broken down tram on the network, especially in Manchester city centre, can have a huge knock-on effect with delays and bottlenecks. What can Metrolink do to limit the effects caused by just one tram breaking down?
“The way in which we manage disruption is one of the significant improvements KeolisAmey Metrolink (KAM) has made since we took over as operator in 2017.
“The team has reduced the instances of disruption by ensuring that we get to the root-cause of issues that arise so we can prevent them from happening again. We’ve listened to customers and responded to the things that they want from us when disruption does happen.
“The team has improved the information given for other options for their journey when our service is disrupted.”
4: Are there any plans to improve the new contactless payment system, where you tap in and out? People are being overcharged by forgetting to tap out. Are there any plans for more warnings – a new system?
“TfGM is actively investigating potential technical solutions to help reduce the number of incomplete journeys in the future and are continuing with our customer information campaign.
“KAM is supporting TfGM with this work and drawing upon our international experience and expertise in this field.”
5: What measures are being done to tackle crime? Crime and passenger security is a major issue. Should – and could – Metrolink employ security guards on trams and stations. Should it have its own security system?
Safety is our number one priority and I know that anti-social behaviour, reliability, disruption and capacity are concerns for our customers, so they are things I’ll be working with partners such as GMP, councils and others to improve.
“We, and TfGM, take all incidents of vandalism and anti-social behaviour seriously and have almost 2,000 CCTV cameras covering the Metrolink network that and are used to support operations and to prosecute offenders.
“Key areas where we have undertaken work to improve safety and security include:
- Body-worn cameras for staff and a comprehensive programme of school and community engagement.
- In 2018, the TravelSafe Partnerships held sessions with over 14,000 children and young adults.
- Establishing TravelSafe Metrolink officers, who were amongst the first on the scene of the Victoria station stabbing on New Year’s Eve.
- Earlier this year we introduced dedicated route teams to gain valuable insight into the specific issues affecting each route and deploy staff to tackle these issues and deter offenders as required. TfGM will be evaluating this new approach to assess if it has been successful in reducing incidents of antisocial behaviour and fare evasion.
“The safety and security issue is not a problem we can solve alone, and so we will continue to work with TfGM, Greater Manchester Police and other partners to try and address the issues in our communities that impact on the network.
“We and TfGM are also working closely with GMP on the introduction of a new and dedicated transport unit – due to launch later in the year – that will see more than 60 police officers replace existing Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).”
6: A public consultation on late-night/early morning public transport is currently ongoing. Should – and can – Metrolink trams run into the early hours?
“We already have services operating from early morning – 3am on the Airport line – until late at night. As part of our last service pattern change, we extended operating hours on Sundays to bring them in line with other weekday services. We urge everyone to have their say in the current public consultation on the night time economy.”
7: Are there plans to extend the service to Bolton, Wigan and Stockport? Shouldn’t Metrolink serve all of Greater Manchester?
“We’re supporting TfGM to expand and develop the network as and when possible. The Trafford Park line is scheduled to open next year and provides another step in the right direction to the Mayor’s ambition of delivering a world class network.”
8: What are the main challenges facing Metrolink at the moment and how are they being solved? And what is Metrolink doing to improve reliability?
“Firstly, I want to improve customer satisfaction. I want customers to have a good reliable experience when they use the network and we want to keep them coming back.
“And then there is anti-social behaviour that remains a significant challenge. On the first it’s a matter of getting all the basic rights to improve the customer experience and we are looking at all areas of our delivery to drive up satisfaction.
“KAM has done lots of work already with regards to anti-social behaviour.
“We have increased the number of hours that TravelSafe Officers are on the network and changed the way our Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) work so that they are route-based and build up a deeper understanding of local areas.”
“I’m excited by the challenge of my new job and recognise the importance of my responsibilities.”
TfGM’s head of Metrolink, Danny Vaughan, welcomed the appointment.
He said: “With the Trafford Park line set to open in the first half of next year it’s a really exciting time for Metrolink and I’m delighted to welcome Guillaume on board.
“Since taking over as operator KeolisAmey Metrolink (KAM) has delivered improvements in a number of key areas, and Guillaume has a very clear remit to continue this work with a particular focus on enhancing customer experience and operational performance.”
Keolis is 70 per cent owned by France’s state-owned railway operator, SNCF, and 30 per cent owned by Canadian pension fund, Caisse de depot et de placement du Québec.
Through its joint ventures, it also operates the Docklands Light Railway in London.
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