JOHN'S BLOG: TRAM TALK TODAY

Disclaimer :   The opinions and commentary voiced on this page are those of the author and do not have automatic endorsement of the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust (Registered Charity) unless otherwise stated.

Follow the regular updates on the Trust's projects, comments on Blackpool's bus and tram network and transport issues around the UK and further afield.

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One lonely trailer

British Trams Online carry a Memory Lane posting on Twin Set 677/687 referencing the disposition of the trailer unit which has been saved for preservation through the intervention of one private enthusiast with the practical assistance of FHLT. Transfer of 687 into ownership of the Trust this month and the onset of fine weather has seen a start made on clearing the interior of detrius from its long sojourn inside Rigby Road Depot - and the removal of the trailer control cab end. The intention is to utilise this robust unit as a storage facility for some of the Trust's materials and components - with one half to be used for meetings and briefings. Externally the tram will gain a differe

Blackpool's budget dance

A briefing this week by principals of public sector organisations embracing Blackpool Council, Fire, Education and Policing revealed the stark decisions being faced in the light of massive cuts by central Government. While local authorities and public bodies elsewhere in England, notably in London and the Home Counties are favoured with marginal cuts to their budgets - the north and especially Blackpool have been singled out for a slash and burn approach by ill minded directives from Westminster. Brave efforts by Blackpool's Council in recent years have pursued key developments in the town which include the tramway extension to Blackpool North as fulfillment of the Talbot Gateway scheme,

Deja Vu - Peace in our Time

I detected a shadow from the past with the return of David Cameron from Brussels claiming he had renegotiated a satisfactory settlement on Britain's relationship with and within the EU earlier this year. A sense of grim accomplishment followed this pronouncement for a few short weeks. In 1938 Neville Chamberlain flew back to London from his negotiation with the German Chancellor ceding the Sudetenland to German control in a brutal confrontation over a conference table in Munich. The subsequent claim by Chamberlain he had 'secured peace in our time' waving a scrap of paper with the signature of a cynical Hitler - would soon be put to the test within less than six months as the German army

Another day another bus

Apologies for the apparent lapse in postings early this week, however some background nerds on the far side of the globe modified the formatting of the server and our modest online offering had a hiccup. Thankfully the matter has been sorted (not by me) and things are now on an even keel, but one never knows ! Two blogs went into a filing system which are somewhere else in the ether and rather than spend time repeating earlier postings which did not appear - I will simply move on. Tramtalk is not the only misstep it seems - with Blackpool Transport fielding an anonymous bus on the 5 Service this week. Waiting for a bus to Layton yesterday I was accosted (almost) by a grim looking Merced

Weekend wonders & armchair comfort

Blackpool's transport scene is like no other. One of the few remaining urban systems in the country which remains outside the grasping clutches of the corporate sector - and the only one to operate a 'light rail' service under municipal ownership. Lingering traces of the traditional tram service are also allowed alongside the light rail operation under the guise of 'heritage tours' - a result of being beside the seaside with donkeys, stag and hen parties, piers and a seasonal economy. The operator - Blackpool Transport Services Ltd., manages to maintain a distinctive flavour that contrasts with the rest of the country. Vehicles and fleet branding make it stand out among the bland corpor

Little Love for Bispham Station etc.

Ever since the closure of Bispham's 1930's tram station structure for tram crews wanting a 'brew up' or checking in with a Duty Inspector - the building has been left uncared for and apparently unwanted. Blackpool Council, which owns the station, has tried to find users for the building but without success, and not surprising given the caveats and restrictions imposed on alternative use. Now that a tram station 'platform' has been built along the eastern facing frontage and designation of the tramway as a 'light railway' - there is a bar to access of the structure from this side for any commercial (or public) use. A new entrance would need to be built into the seaward facing (rear) wall a

Layton Station

Former Waiting Room with original woodframe and ticket office now closed of course - double red doors. Layton Railway Station provides a convenient intermediate stop for some trains (and more importantly passengers) between Poulton and Blackpool North. Once upon a time before the road bridge was built in the mid 1930s - the road leading to Bispham from what was the Windmill Hotel crossed the railway tracks at a level crossing not dissimilar to the example still functioning at Carleton Crossing a couple of miles further east. In those days the station was called 'Bispham' but changed to 'Layton' in the same period. Benson Road was thus truncated and altered to provide the southern approa

Question mark over more Citaros ?

The extended loan of the ADL Demonstrator large capacity single deck bus and its sustained trials on Service 5 this week may suggest second thoughts on further purchases of the Mercedes Citaro model in 2016. For those with interest in such matters here are some further images of what may become Blackpool's standard single deck design going forward. All Images Copyright : John Woodman The Driver's destination options showing the Demonstrator's assignment on both 5 and 9 Services during its stay in Blackpool. Clean lines which may look even better in BTS 'Palladium' branding of grey and lime. Victoria Hospital Bus Terminus - lacking seating for waiting passengers though.

Question mark over more Citaros?

The impressive styling and smooth ride of the Mercedes Citaro buses which frequent Service 5 to Victoria Hospital and latterly on the 9 Service to Cleveleys may conceal faults which become apparent when examples are found with 'Not in Service' on their screens parked by the curb. The simplest fittings would seem to cause the most problems and in one case this week it was the door mechanism. Apparently the sliding bolt on one of the two frames broke with the consequence the doors would not work in sequence. This is not the first time I have witnessed the problem with a similar episode also on Talbot Road when the vehicle had just entered service. The Fitter arrived to make things right ha

This EU is on life-support

By way of token tram reference - an EU tram somewhere to the east - prize for guessing where ! Built under the communist regiment. Just why there is a credible cause for the UK to renew its marriage with an institution that it exchanged vows with over three decades ago under totally different arrange- ments - is a complete mystery. Its as if you found that charming young person you committed to at the altar (or registry office) has changed gender and become an alien form taking charge of your life. The self serving elite who endorse the current set up are so far out of touch with the real world as to be living on Planet Pluto at the edge of our galaxy. What is not headlined in our media

Catch22 22

From an initial service running during the summer season along much of Blackpool's promenade with a diverse menage of buses - the Catch22Bus company has certainly spread its wings in the past year. The fleet remains eclectic and provides pleasant surprises for the travelling public as well as bus enthusiasts. Blackpool Corporation, Lytham St Annes Corporation, Ribble, Cardiff Bus and London Transport fleet colours can appear at any moment at a stop near you. The number of routes covered by Catch22Bus seem to be increasing exponentially with the more recent launch of new services in the north Fylde replacing several given up by Stagecoach in April when Lancashire County Council subsidies w

Fleetwood Freeport show and tell

Fleetwood's outlet shopping centre is spreading its message through use of trams, buses and shelters as the season picks up speed. One of the Catch22Bus fleet has been decorated in an eyecatching wraparound scheme while a Blackpool tram has a renewed all over design that is pleasing to the eye. Norbreck station shelter has been 'adopted' by Fleetwood Freeport - in a clever move to persuade its visitors to head north on the tram rather than southbound! This is the second tram shelter to gain a sponsor - with the Sands venue (soon to expand with new floors being added) taking charge of the southbound shelter immediately facing its venue. These precedents may tempt other sponsors to similarly

A Fantastic Book - (in Japanese)

A chance encounter with the North Pier Shop last weekend fortuitously revealed a new book on Blackpool's trams. Full marks to Nick Meskell for stocking some copies of which a handful remain. 'Fantastic Trams in Blackpool' is a fantastic book and a must have title (after my modest efforts of course) for serious followers of the resort's tramway comings and goings. It doesn't matter if you cannot read Japanese! The book's 168 pages ooze amazing photographs taken by the Author on his visits to Blackpool, seemingly in 1978, 1979, 2013, 2014 and 2015 from a read of all the date specific image captions. Naturally the photography is the result of cameras far exceeding my own 'brownie' model

754 Then and Now

An interesting run by at North Pier with former Marton Box Car 31 in its rebuilt form when it became a four axle tram until a further life as the Engineering Car numbered 4 and based at Bispham Depot. After 1966 and the tram fleet renumbering it gained the number 754 in the works car series until pensioned off to Beamish Museum where it was magnificently returned to a 1920's condition (open top). The current Engineering Car - there's no mistake about that - heads past 31 en route to Rigby Road yesterday providing a neat comparison for the camera. Number 753 former Standard 143 occupied the same role replacing 31/4 and is also awaiting its turn in the Workshops to be returned to a 1920s'

A Taste of ADL (or a ride on Bus 000)

From time to time Blackpool trials new buses from various manufacturers. Its not a frequent occurrence and in many cases usually leads to a thanks but no thanks on the part of the Operator. This is normal in a market where bus builders need to chase up new customers especially for new designs and styling. Blackpool Transport has already taken delivery of ten Mercedes Citaro buses and obviously pleased with them (as am I as a rider) as a further ten are on order for delivery this summer. The arrival therefore of another single deck demonstrator this weekend this time from Alexander Dennis Ltd. and its prompt entry into test service on the 5 prompted a rapid exit to Layton Square in the h

Training Drivers and a PS

Hard on the heels of the story on a driver training tram incident earlier this week - the BTS Driver Training bus hove into view on Westcliffe Drive today - passing by a horrific road traffic accident the previous evening. A car flipped over onto a garden wall seriously injuring its driver who is now at Victoria Hospital. Traffic in both directions on this important artery leading out of Layton was halted with consequent delays for 'long suffering' bus passengers on several services. One of BTS Driver Training Tridents passed the author this afternoon looking exceptionally smart in its new corporate livery - complete with ample signage on its role. The garden wall demolished by an erran

Chorley Station is a harbinger of change

Hardly a relevant header for Blackpool's transport blog but the announcement this week that Chorley Station will be closing every weekend and overnight during weekdays after peak hour commutes, is evidence of the electrification programme now underway. The line from Blackpool North to Preston is scheduled for the same infrastructural upgrade in the near future with consequent closure of Blackpool's railway terminus from a date to be announced. Realignment of the station's platforms to allow for longer trains and modern rolling stock, as well as a more distinctive and improved terminal building will require full closure for an interim period. Substitute coaches will be replacing trains to

Oops - PS and a correction*

The tram driver training season is upon us. In this case drivers for the company's upgraded double deck trams which are called on to supplement the scheduled service of 'Flexities'. Contrasting with the heritage tram tours operated mainly with volunteer crews - the light rail 'balloons' need to be operated by BTS staff. Unfortunately the training today was brought to a summary halt when the *training tram* collided with a car crossing the tracks at Larkholme Lane in Fleetwood. No doubt the car came off worse and its female driver was taken to hospital but hopefully without lasting injury. Services were naturally interrupted with trams heading north being turned back at Thornton Gate (

Nothing to celebrate now

Having been responsible for conceiving (and painting) the tram now on display at the Pleasure Beach terminus - to celebrate the long history of Blackpool Football Club - it is more than depressing to witness the relegation of the Club to the bottom division of the FA leagues. Especially so when you consider that neighbours Fleetwood Town FC are now above Blackpool in the FA League Table (as are many if not most northwest teams once fearful of playing Blackpool FC at Bloomfield Road). The Trust's tram (641) remains for the moment in its tangerine colours with memories of far better times. A black shrouding is now more appropriate given the latest fall in the Club's fortunes and I'm happy

Talbot Road needs trams & so does North

A certain level of criticism has arose over the Council's plans to build a tramway to North Station from the Promenade at North Pier. The double track junction in both directions was built into the Promenade tracks at North Pier during the 2011 upgrade purposefully to ensure the extension up Talbot Road would be added later. Part of the delay in implementing the capital investment approved by the Government - has had to do with the Council's purchase of the Wilkinson store property without which creating a safe and attractive tram terminus and bus interchange would not be possible. Talbot Gateway Scheme work in progress - the Wilkinson property to the right and Below : the awful 'bunker

Working to conserve for display, trams and artefacts of the longstanding coastal tramway serving Blackpool, Thornton Cleveleys and Fleetwood.

 

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