TRAM DEPOT AT RISK IN HIGH WINDS
It comes as no surprise to the many critics who voiced their concerns over the siting of Blackpool’s new tram depot at an exposed point abutting the seawall at Starr Gate – at risk to high tides, salt air and now it seems – high winds. Saturday morning January 10th amid the gales sweeping across much of the UK (or at least the northern half of country) a sudden gust started to peel off a front section of the depot roof. Trams were immediately ordered to limit their southern bound journeys to the Pleasure Beach turning circle and a pile up of at least four Bombardier cars ensued due to other problems experienced elsewhere on the seafront line. Witnessed by Colin MacLeod and John Woodman who were working inside the FHLT display tram 290 at the Pleasure Beach – crews advised they were unable to proceed further south due to sections of the tram depot roof having just been blown off at Starr Gate. A cordon of police cars blocked off immediate traffic access to the section of South Promenade passing the depot structure. Crews of Council staff were descending on the area which was littered with roof lining material blown out of the structure. Tram overhead poles conveniently providing catch points for flying tufts emerging from the depot. A front section of the building had had its roofing peeled back with imminent danger of sections blowing loose with consequent injury to staff and pedestrians. The gale force winds combined with a high tide due at 1.30 posed serious danger. One tram was temporarily marooned at the terminus having arrived just prior to the event and following consultation was quickly shunted into the building – having been unable to traverse the turning circle due to overhead lines being coated in places with the roof lining material. As an immediate expedient the tram service between Pleasure Beach and Starr Gate was given over to a shuttle bus which traversed the tracks and loaded from stop platforms – depositing its passengers at the Heritage Tram stop on the Pleasure Beach loop. The attached images were taken on the scene today. How long this initial measure will endure remains to be seen but as an eye witness to these events and the first passenger on the tram replacement bus service this somewhat dramatic and critical event is worth recording for the benefit of readers on this site. Of course the consequent impact of the depot roof failure on Council budgets will no doubt be a factor at a time of significant public spending cuts in this Unitary Authority.