On the 2nd of October, 2019, I attempted the Manchester Metrolink Challenge. Actually, twice, but later about that.
I posted the same text alongside with images to my Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/travelmcfamily ... 3501024470
It was a bright, sunny day, but a little bit cold quarter to 8 when I approached the first tram stop of the day. I got to Rochdale very quickly and started the Challenge at 09:06 as my plan. I went from Rochdale to Bury via Victoria, and from Bury towards Altrincham all the way. On that tram, I had to realize - it just suddenly came into my mind - I missed a single stop - Exchange Square - from my route plan. After a few minutes of struggle in my mind, I decided the only option I have left is giving up.
A side note, my phone's battery was almost drowned at this point, so I urgently needed a charger or USB slot. So I headed back to city center with a 263 from Arriva, with nice USB sockets next to each seat. It takes a bit more time than the tram, but at least I had time to plan a new route and to see if there is possible to do with all the stops and even quicker. Given the fact I spent days, if not weeks to come up with a route which on paper was 5:34 around 90s quicker than the current record, I surprised myself I was able to found a route which is not just completes all stop for real but is around ~5:20, so there is at least a full tram frequency (12 minutes) reserve in it. So from the center I headed back to Rochdale (with train now) to start over.
It was around 5 hours later than my original start, and I did the Rochdale - Victoria - Bury - Victoria route again and down to Piccadilly and out to Ashton. The return tram from Bury just closed to door in front of my nose, so I had to wait 6 minutes and I got behind the schedule. The interesting things started there. My route includes two train connections, the first one from Ashton to Victoria. With the 6 minutes delay, I would miss the train in Ashton and would be 30 minutes down, loosing the Challenge again. But, the train was 35 minutes late when I come into the city from Bury. Regardless of that I decided on Piccadilly to go for it and try what will happen. Actually the train's delay was less and less over the time, and when I got to Ashton by the tram, I had to run out my soul to catch the formally late train. It arrived in time to Victoria, where I got struck between other passengers, and the gate also hold me up for precious moments. Luckily I just caught the tram towards East Didsbury. From there, another train connection was in the route, towards the Airport. The tram was late this time, so it was another run for me. I was surprised again, because I was able to complete the run very quickly, just to realize the train was delayed. It was hold up between Deansgate and Oxford Road, than Piccadilly and no train come to EDY for more than 25 minutes towards the Airport. When I got to the Airport, I was again 30 minutes behind my schedule and decided to give up for the second time on that day.
I spent around 9 hours on trams and trains (and some waiting and running) and collected really precious experience, but wasn't able to complete the Challenge, not even to beat the record on my first two tries. In the morning, the traffic was much better, my original plan to start it around the end of the morning peak time was ideal, and it should not be started and carried out afternoon. Now I also have experience about run and connection times between tram and trains and sometimes between trams.