Posted by: SB Websites | December 24, 2012

24/12/12 News Update

New Flexity Adverts

December has seen a large number of new adverts on the new Flexity 2 trams, many of which have replaced existing adverts. Flexity 010 has had its Grand Theatre advert replaced by a new one for the Cinderella Pantomime in a similar dark purple and blue style while possibly one of the more appealing adverts has been applied to 004 in the form of another Pleasure Beach advert. This new advert is for the Wallace and Gromit ‘Thrill-O-Matic’ ride which is opening for the 2013 season and replaces the Hot Ice Advert that was previously carried. A new advertiser for the trams has came in the form of the NHS which has a purple based advert on one side of 008 advertising the dangers of high blood pressure.

Snowplough Tram Ready for Service

In preparation for a bad winter and with a new 12 minute frequency winter service in force, Balloon 701 has been fitted with snowploughs. 701 has not been used in passenger service this year although it has performed at least one run down to Starr Gate so remains in fully operational condition as a reserve.

Western Train Santa Specials

Blackpool Transport introduced the new Santa Express that ran on December 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th, 22nd and 23rd by Western Train 733+734 which ran between Pleasure Beach and Little Bispham. Three tours operated on each day at 10:00, 11:30 and 14:00 though unfortunately loadings were very light which was undoubtedly due to the late announcement of the service and that tickets were required to be pre-booked. However, the final weekend saw an improvement in loadings showing the service could have been largely popular if it was announced at an earlier date.

Flexity 002 Back on the Promenade

After returning back from Germany in early November, 002 has since returned to use although surprisingly it has returned to its original role as a driver trainer. It has yet to enter passenger service, though this cannot be far away with vinyls applied making this the first time 002 has been seen in full livery. The operational Flexity fleet is also starting to decrease again following 005 having not been seen since October and 006 being out of service since August.

631 Takes a Step Further into its Heritage

With the heritage fleet now confined to the depot for the winter, progress is being made on restoring Brush 631 to make it closer to its original identity. This has included fitting swing over seats from Balloon 700 and a repaint into an as of yet unannounced green and cream livery. After 631 is complete, work is expected to commence on Centenary 648 which should also be painted into a variant of green and cream which will make both trams more suited to their roles after being used in expired adverts for the duration of 2012.

The Future of 646?

Out of the many trams sold in 2012, it was likely that plans for some of these trams would not meet fruition and is the future of 646 is currently not looking good. 646 was previously en-marked for the Corpse Road tram museum though after suffering from vandalism, the decision was taken to sell the tram to an independent buyer. Since then, various parts have been offered for sale on ebay making it increasingly unlikely that 646 will make it into preservation and the tram has since moved from Paul Gaunt’s premises near Blackpool Airport to an unknown location.

646

646 is seen at North Pier on the 24th April 2010 and remained very much the same until withdrawn.

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Posted by: SB Websites | November 3, 2012

03/11/12 Autumn and Winter 2012/2013 Poll

The Autumn and Winter 2012/2013 poll is now available below. It is for the tram which has been the most interesting during the past 6 months, with an article being written about the winner after the poll has ended next year.

Why were the trams nominated?

Twin 272+T2 – The most anticipated tram to return to service has been this twin car which is now fully operational as part of the heritage fleet. The original all over cream livery is something that has never been seen on an operational Blackpool tram for many of years and has since been used on illumination tours on a number of occasions.

Brush 627 – Although not operational, 627 has returned to the promenade as a static display on the Pleasure Beach turning circle. Painted white and gold, the tram is branded as “The Queens Diamond Jubilee” giving a striking look after the cosmetic restoration was completed at Kirkham Prison.

Balloon 700 – The first of the Balloon cars to be painted into the new purple and white livery and first seen at the 2012 Fleetwood Tram Sunday. During the half term week, it was used daily alongside other Balloon cars which represented the first major use of the Balloon class for the year.

Rocket 732 – The Rocket is the second tram to become a static exhibit as part of the 2012 illuminations and also saw cosmetic restoration carried out to improve its appearance. 732 is currently on display at Gynn Square Roundabout, with fully working lights bringing a view from the past of what is one of the most popular illuminated trams.

Posted by: SB Websites | November 2, 2012

02/11/12 News Update

304 Moves to Beamish

Lancastrian Transport Trust owned Coronation car 304 has now moved to its temporary home at Beamish where it will be used in service for three weekends. 304 entered service for the first time at Beamish on the 27th of October giving passengers the first time to experience this tram since 2010 where it was last used in service at Blackpool.

Repainted Balloons Return to Service

Modified Balloons 711 and 719 have both made their debut this week since receiving the modified centre doors and repaint into standard purple and white livery.  719 was the first to re-enter service on the 29th of October and was then joined by 711 on the 2nd of November. Inside, the trams remain largely in original condition with 719 still wearing yellow panels and ice cream vinyls on the staircases from its former Walls Ice Cream days as well as the front panel moldings making it stand out from the rest of the class.

719 is seen at Pleasure Beach on the 29th of October, giving a very different look compared to last year’s appearance in black and gold as an advert for The Pleasure Beach’s Hot Ice show.

Flexity 002 Returns

After leaving Blackpool for Bombardiers Bautzen factory in Germany in May, 002 has been the least seen Flexity and is believed to have only carried passengers on one day.  002 then returned to Blackpool on the 1st of November carrying full vinyls and was driven to the depot under its own power. This now means that for the first time all sixteen Flexity’s are at Starr Gate depot though it should be noted that 006 has now not been used for over a month, the reason for this is unknown.

Modified Balloon Cars Return to Service

As well as a chance to see 711 and 719, the October Half Term saw the first opportunity to see multiple Balloon cars in service where they were used in-between Pleasure Beach and Little Bispham to provide extra capacity on what is usually the busiest week of the year for the tramway. Five trams were required for the 12 minute frequency with trams leaving depot from around 9:15 to 9:45 and returning at 16:00 to 16:30. Tight timings of an hour round trip meant that journeys became late with trams noted terminating at North Pier and Cabin with bunching occurring throughout the day, though no major problems have occurred all week apart from 719 suffering door problems on the 30th of October which will hopefully mean they are used more frequently next year. So far, all serviceable Balloons have been used for at least one day except Millennium 724 while 720 remains out of service requiring repairs to its smashed pair of doors. While Blackpool Transport successfully increased the capacity during the week, it is questionable why the decision has been made to not use the trams at weekends which is usually even busier than during the week.

713 and 718 are seen at Pleasure Beach on the morning of the 29th of October, with bunching already beginning to occur with only a few minutes between these two trams and 719 also following close behind.

Classic Bus North West introduces’ Catch 22′

Classic Bus North West launched their new service 22 in late September, in competition with a variety of Blackpool Transport operated routes. Passenger loadings appear to be good, no doubt due to the very low fares of £2 single and £4 day ticket as well as the many offers available such as ‘Families for a Fiver’ giving unlimited travel for a day every Saturday and school holiday.  The route uses mainly Plaxton Pointer bodied Dennis Darts, but a Volvo B10M / Alexander PS, an Optare MetroRider and Volvo Olympians regularly also appear on the service.

Dennis Dart X512 UAT is one of the vehicles carrying branding for the service, while still sporting a grey skirt from its days with Transdev London.

Posted by: SB Websites | October 17, 2012

17/10/12 A Look at Balloon 713

Balloon 713 is one of the original fleet of 26 built by English Electric with this example being build in 1935 when it was numbered 250. The original plan behind the Balloon cars was initiated by managing director Walter Luff who aimed to replace the ageing stock with new streamliners. 250 was the first of the batch to be ordered with a closed top and has remained in this format throughout its life, whereas the earlier cars 237-249 were bought new as open toppers but after just seven years (1942) they began to have roofs fitted. The main intention of the tram was to use it on the Lytham Route to Blackpool Airport to replace the standard cars while boosting capacity and comfort for passengers, though it was also sometimes employed on the Promenade service.

Photo Thanks to Wikimedia Commons – Original Author Dr Neil Clifton

One feature that set 250 apart from the rest of the class was during the year of 1946 where it was fitted with fluorescent lighting that was only ever applied to this car. It is presumed that this proved unsuccessful, with 250 reverting back to the original lighting in the 1970’s. As per the rest of the fleet (with the exception of cars 700, 703 and 721), it began to show signs of modernisation with the removal of roof windows and was fitted with the new standard single destination display. During this time the fleet renumbering occurred which involved all Balloon cars moving into the ‘700’ series, with 250 then becoming known as 713.

Moving into the 21st Century the poor condition of tram became apparent which saw its withdrawal from service in 2005 due to a rotten underframe. Due to the general decline of the tramway, at this time it was unknown whether the tram would ever return to service or if it would join the likes of 704 which have never run again. However, 713 was soon to be treated to a full overall which saw the entire tram being rebuilt with many modernisation features occurring along the way. Externally the front end had been remodeled to remove the front curving windows while brand new windows were applied throughout the rest of the tram with pull-in windows replacing the traditional sliding windows. New LED light clusters were also fitted to both ends with similar styles only being applied to 720, with the standard design varying between each cars overall. Internally the tram regained the fluorescent lighting, saloon heating  and new interior panels giving a more pleasant ride. Quite possibly the most missed feature was the removal of swing over seats, which were replaced with fixed bench seats in the standard multicoloured Blackpool Transport moque.

When returned to service in 2007 713 was painted in all over white, latterly sporting T-side adverts for Fleetwood Freeport. By the following season this bland livery was replaced by the Metro Coastlines Line 7 Yellow and Purple livery where it once again gained Fleetwood Freeport T-side adverts and continued to operate this way until the end of 2008. At this time 713 was being fitted with the center door modifications including automatic doors as part of the tramway upgrade and received an all over advert for the Houndshill Shopping Centre. Along with the other Balloon Cars 713 has made infrequent appearances in service during 2012, though it is hoped their usage will greatly increase next year.

Posted by: SB Websites | October 1, 2012

01/10/12 News Update

Return of the Twin Car

The long awaited return of Twin Set 672+682 finally occurred on the 14th of September where the set was due to be launched at Pleasure Beach at 18:00. During a depot shunt a few days earlier, it was revealed that the set had been repainted into original cream livery which is something that has never been seen on the Blackpool Seafront for many of years, unless of course Heaton Park’s Railcoach 680 is counted which was repainted cream earlier this year. Unfortunately, due to a problem with the trailer car refusing to take power, the tram had to run up to Little Bispham in order to turn around and arrived at Pleasure Beach for around 18:30. To add further authenticity to the tram, the fleet number was unveiled at the launch that the tram was once again its original number of 272+T2. Since then, the twin has been a regular performer on illumination tours which will hopefully continue for the remainder of the season.

Photo Thanks to John Eyres

Rocket Receives Sponsorship

The appearance of Rocket 732 at Gynn Squre has been boosted by the addition of adverts for MPM North West on one side and FTS on the other side, which is in fact Future Technology Services rather than the Fylde Tramway Society. An illuminated astronaut has also been added which further improves the exhibit of the tram and has became a popular addition to the illuminations.

LTT Trams Leave for Storage

The Lancastrian Transport Trust’s trams have now left Rigby Road depot for temporary outdoor storage on Burton Road. Before these moves took place, the LTT issued a statement regarding the poor treatment of their trams by BTS which included some of Coronation 304’s seat cushions slashed, 632 suffering side panel damage during shunting and 715 had a cab end damaged. Although Blackpool Transport subsequently repaired the trams, it is a shame to see they have been treated with such little care after storage fees have cost the LTT £1,200 per month. The tram moves began with Brush 624 which was first taken to Brinwell road though after the tram was unable to be placed within the depot due to a larger low loader being used, a day later it was taken to be stored at Burton Road. These moves were then followed by Brush 632 on the 5th of September and Balloon 704, 715 and OMO 8 all departing on the 6th of September. The final tram to move was Coronation 304 on the 7th of September, though this tram is due to move again for a months loan at Beamish Museum to take place on the November 4/5th enhanced transport weekend. Initially it was hoped to launch the tram into service for the 6th of October, though as this move has yet to take place it seems increasingly unlikely.

Flexity 001 Receives Adverts

Flexity 001 has became the most recent tram to receive adverts, which is for the Sands venue as was previously seen on Balloon 723.  After returning to service last month, 001 has settled down into regular operation leaving just 002 to return which was recently presented by Bombardier at the InnoTrans 2012 trade fair in Berlin.

Driver Training on Historic Trams

Late September and early October has seen driver training resume on the heritage fleet which will hopefully overcome the issue of driver shortages. With the October half term traditionally the busiest time for the trams, this should ensure that enough historic trams are out to cope with demand. Presently Brush 631 and Balloon 717 are being used for training duties, with this also enabling more drivers to use the modified Balloons.

Modified Balloon Update

Although 2012 has so far being a disappointing year for the modified Balloon cars, finally some good news comes with Managing Director Trevor Roberts announcing they will be used over the October half term to cope with what is usually the busiest week in the season. Hopefully this plan goes ahead, and should seem some usage for 700, 707, 709, 713, 718 and 724 which are all fully serviceable while 720 is still awaiting repair work after suffering a smashed window during shunting. It is also possible that 719 will be used having been recently transferred to Starr Gate for repaint into new livery, while the final Balloon to be modified is 711 which has also transferred to Starr Gate though is not yet fully complete.

711 and 719 are seen in their previous identities with 719 at North Pier  and 711 at Waterloo Road on the 23rd of April 2011, both should be in the new purple and white livery by the end of the year.

Posted by: SB Websites | September 1, 2012

01/09/12 Spring and Summer 2012 Poll Results

The Spring and Summer 2012 tram poll has now came to an end with Balloon car 713 taking victory with 40% of the votes after being the first non Flextiy car to reach Fleetwood Ferry in passenger service since the tramway was upgraded. In total, 95 votes were submitted which saw 38 for Balloon 713 representing 40%, second was Boat 605 with 30 votes (31.58%), third was Flexity 006 with 26 votes (27.37%) and last was Cardiff 131, obtaining just one vote (1.05%). It seems surprising that 131 received just one vote, though perhaps this was because it is not something the public can sample. Shortly an article will be written about Balloon 713 reflecting its history since it was built in 1935 right up until the modern day where it has been modernised for continued use on the tramway. Out of the four polls that have been carried out, Balloon cars have won three highlighting their popularity.

713 is seen on the 5th of September 2011 at Pleasure Beach, departing for Little Bispham which was the limit of the tramway for the 2011 season.

Below are the full results from the poll:

Flexity 006 – 27.37% – 26 Votes

Cardiff 131 – 1.05% – 1 Vote

Boat 605 – 31.58% – 30 Votes

Balloon 713 – 40% – 38 Votes – WINNER

Posted by: SB Websites | August 29, 2012

29/08/12 News Update

Flexity Adverts Keep on Coming

The new Flexity fleet continue to receive advertising liveries, this time with 010 where one side is for the Grand Theatre and the other for Stanley Park Art Deco Cafe. Although it brings additional variety in appearances to the fleet, these adverts are noticeably less appealing than the Pleasure Beach adverts which have a higher degree of professionalism to them. Shortly after 012 received a single side advert for  WoWtels.com which is a simple yet effective cream based advert.

Tram Driver Shortages on Heritage Tours

With the tramway in general making an incredibly good start to the year with a frequent and reliable 10 minute service offered and very high passenger numbers, quite possibly the first major setback for the tramway came during the start of the Summer holidays where the heritage tours are scheduled to operate daily. Due to a combination of the Pleasure Beach points being out of use and latterly a shortage of drivers trained to operate the heritage trams many days saw no service at all operated or just one tram out. With just the one tram a £10 day ticket doesn’t offer good value for money and is unlikely to attract many non-enthusiast passengers, though thankfully by mid August the problems seem to have been rectified and a normal service has returned. During the time of the Pleasure Beach points out of use, the crews were employed on Balloon and Millennium trams including 700, 709, 718 and 724 which operated on normal service and each managed journeys through to Fleetwood.

Illumination Display Trams Arrive

On the 14th of July the Rocket was moved to its temporary new home on Gynn Square roundabout as an illuminations display, after being treated to cosmetic restoration by the Illuminations department. New removable lower skirt body panels have been added which were removed to ease transportation and tests have already been made to the lights before it will be seen lit up daily once the illuminations start on the 31st of August. The second display tram arrived at Pleasure Beach turning loop on the 22nd of August in the form of ‘The Queens Diamond Jubilee tram’ Brush car 627. Cosmetic restoration was also carried out on this tram, this time by Kirkham Prison inmates where a very high standard has been achieved of the gold and white livery.  To further aid the appearance, wooden fencing has since been added to protect the tram where it will remain for the duration of the illuminations.

Posted by: SB Websites | July 17, 2012

17/07/12 Event: Tram Sunday 2012

The 15th of July saw the annual Tram Sunday event held in Fleetwood with trams, buses and a variety of model stalls present. Unlike the previous year, rain held off for the duration of the event which led to high visitor numbers with the streets full of visitors throughout the day. Blackpool Transport attended by displaying Balloon Cars 700 and 717 on Pharos Street with both trams open for visitors to walk around. This was the first time for 700 to be seen in its new livery which gives a unified identity across the fleet.  Below are some photos from the day:

As well as the trams, John Fishwick and Sons attended the rally with a display of four vehicles, one of which was brand new VDL SB200 / Wright Pulsar 2 YJ12 CHG.

More Photos at Northern Transport Photos

Posted by: SB Websites | July 16, 2012

16/07/12 News Update

700 Repainted into New Livery

A surprise came to many when news broke that 700 had been repainted into the new standard livery of purple and white, as seen on the Flexity’s. This all came one day before Tram Sunday, which was held on the 15th of July and was displayed for the first time in new livery along with 717 on Pharos Street. There is currently no indication of how often 700 or any of the other Balloon/Millennium trams will be used over the Summer and Illumination period, although with a repaint it would still seem there is a desired role for their future on the tramway.

700 is seen while on display at Tram Sunday on the 15th of July, internally the new illuminated next stop display board can be seen giving a very contrasting appearance of old and new.

Pleasure Beach Keep on Advertising

Adverts are continuing to be applied to the Flexity fleet for the Pleasure Beach, with 015 now advertising Nickelodeon land. Previously, Nickelodeon Land was advertised on Jubilee 762 with a similar colour scheme used for the centre section and the standard Pleasure Beach golden strip across the top of the tram. Flexity 004 now carries an advert for Hot Ice at the Pleasure Beach which was previously advertised on Balloon 721 while 013 now advertises Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

Flexity’s 015 and 004 are seen in their new liveries, with 015 departing North Pier and 004 departing Fisherman’s Walk.

10 Minute Service Begins

From the 1st of July, the tramway increased to operate every 10 minutes Monday to Saturday and every 15 minutes on a Sunday. There are now morning short journeys operating between Starr Gate and Cleveleys, which means trams do not leave Fleetwood at a 10 minute frequency until 11:00am. Currently, only Flexity’s have been used on the service but due to the lack of reserves (with 12-13 required) it remains to be seen whether a Balloon car will make it onto the service.

631 Returns to the Promenade

A further boost to the heritage tram tours was made by 631 returning to service on the 8th of July, where it should be a regular throughout the remainder of the year. 631 remains in Walls Ice Cream livery, though a repaint into green and cream may occur sometime in the future.

Further Departures

After a quiet spell of trams leaving Rigby Road depot during the Spring, July has seen a large number transfer to new homes. The first of these moves involved the Rocket (732) which moved to the Illuminations depot near Blackpool Airport on the 9th of July. The Rocket will be cosmetically restored, with the hope that it will be completed in time to be displayed for the 2012 illuminations. A day later on the 10th of July, Centenary 647 was shunted out the depot and was moved to the North East where it will be repainted into a 1920’s style livery which won the livery competition, as seen on the North Eastern Electrical Traction Trusts website. The third tram to depart was motor car 674 on the 12th of July which also went to the North East as part of the NEETT’s fleet and was joined by trailer 684 a day later.

Posted by: SB Websites | June 26, 2012

26/06/12 Event: Totally Transport 2012

The annual Totally Transport event on New South Promenade was held on the 24th of June. Although due to the poor weather the event was slightly smaller than last year, it still saw the regular tramway models, car owners clubs and buses attend the event. As per all weekends, a heritage tram service operated initially consisting of the Western Train 733+734 and the Frigate F736. However, after the trains second trip it was sent back to depot with a faulty trolley pole which dewired first at Bispham and then at Little Bispham. In replacement, Princess Alice 706 was used  which was a brave choice baring in mind the weather and appeared to be the more popular of the two trams out. Below are some photos from the day:

A new bus service was launched on the Blackpool Promenade earlier in June competing with the Line 1 and the tramway. The service 12 is operated by Classic Bus North West mainly with Routemasters although other preserved vehicles also operate. The 12 operates every 15 minutes between Pleasure Beach and Cabin using five vehicles.

More Photos at Northern Transport Photos

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