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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

A track gang's work is never done

The 'Track Gang' working on one of several hundred rail joints needing their attention on a regular basis - year in and year out. A scene at Norbreck last week.

The small permanent way crew - now just seven strong on Blackpool Council Operational Services payroll, are responsible for twenty two miles of actual tram track, plus depot access infrastructure. They can be seen year round in fine weather and foul checking on all aspects of the tram rail. Last week a team could be seen at Norbreck servicing, oiling and adjusting rail joints on sections of the Permanent Way tram reservation. Apparently rail exposed to extremes of weather are susceptible to expansion (in summer months) and contraction in the coldness of winter. Embedded street track does not suffer from the same issues, but equally carries the weight of road traffic and build up of detrius in the railhead groover and at point sections. The issue of blown sand also remains of continuous concern.

Blackpool Council Engineering Services transport now numbered 1114.

The crews's transport is a redundant BTS 'Solo' bus which provides for a 'brew up' and rest space out of the harsh weather, particularly on the seafront north of Cabin. The bus carrying the impressive fleet number 1114 brings back memories of Glasgow trams ! The famous Kilmarnock Bogies were numbered 1090 - 1140 - possibly a Glaswegian enthusiast works at Layton Depot - home to the Council's Operational Services. Below : GCT 1125 heads towards Central Station underpass en route to Dalmarnock Depot in its final months before withdrawal and obviously showing wear and tear - as old hardworking trams once did in the 1950s. Photo Copyright John Woodman.

Overhead wiring and power distribution is dealt with by BTS directly and its team now based at Starr Gate Depot. They of course benefit from the overhead 'Engineering Car' 754 new to Blackpool in 1992 by the same firm which built the Centenary Cars 641 - 648 the preceding decade.

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