SHAKE RATTLE & ROLL
The German built light rail vehicles (sorry - trams) running steadily on the eleven mile service from Starr Gate to Fleetwood are doing a sterling job day in day out.
However there are two noteworthy aspects less attractive to local residents.
Firstly the noise emitted by the trams even on straight track varies considerably from tram to tram - but far from being smooth and silent - there is a constant rattle from the wheels of varying pitch and in some cases permeating the inside of the entire vehicle.
On curves, noticeably at the Gynn and again at the 'Orion Curve' entering Cleveleys the wheels constantly squeal against the rail and for the residents of flats facing directly on to the tramway at Cleveleys this has to be a particular annoyance with seemingly no remediation.
Whilst Blackpool's 'heritage' trams emanate their own singular sounds in a dull rumble as they pass by - the noise level is much less than Bombardier's products. In 1949 the Marton tram service was 'saved' by testing of two 1930s railcoaches - one of which (208) was provided both with resilient bogies and new control equipment which gave both a smooth ride and most importantly for an all street route with multiple curves - almost silent running.
It is doubtful that Bombardier's model would pass such a test today - and one needs to wonder the reason for this flaw after only a few years of operation, particularly as 96% of the route they operate on features straight track.
The second issue is of concern to Wyre residents wishing to use the trams with their NoW Cards. The apparant inability of three local authorities (two Labour controlled and one Conservative) to come together and resolve amicably the financial cost to BTS of permitting Wyre's residents to enjoy the same inherent rights as those living in contiguous localities from Anchorsholme south. That this aberration has not been tackled fairly and squarely by the three Authorities - all pointing fingers at each other as to who pays what and why - is an indictment of responsible politicians and certainly not the fault of Blackpool Transport.
Laudable aims to extend Blackpool's light rail operation further south into yet another local authority area (Fylde Borough) would no doubt fall at the same hurdle (see next Blog). As the General Election looms closer far more important issues face the next Parliament and whatever Government takes the reins of power. But for this small part of the United Kingdom and in particular two constituencies in Blackpool North and Lancaster and Fleetwood - the case for banging heads together in Preston, Poulton and Blackpool has to be high on the agenda post May 8th.
The shakes and rattles will naturally continue to roll on. One wonders whether the Toronto tram network now seeing the same Bombardier model (or its derivative) entering service will have the same experience - particularly as that system has plenty of junctions, curves and all street operation on many routes.