The annual Blackpool Air Show draws enormous crowds to the seafront from mid morning onwards and this year over the entire weekend. Understandably promenade traffic flow is disrupted to the extent that bus services, in particular the P:romenade 1 Service between Starr Gate and Fleetwood has to be truncated. Nor is the only problem for BTS as Blackpool's ageing road bridges can no longer withstand the volume of traffic and require urgent repair or replacement.
Already the important Skew Bridge on Lytham Road and 'Crossley's Bridge' on Bispham Road have been either strengthened or replaced in the latter case. Harrowside bridge is now closed and the equally important bridge over the railway line at Squires Gate Lane is due to be replaced at the end of the summer season. There is even word that railway track replacement and electrification may prompt closure of Devonshire Road underpass if this becomes necessary over the coming winter. Council workers have been giving attention to Waterloo Road Bridge over the past several weeks but this has not involved complete closure except for east bound road traffic.
Today saw North Station forecourt become the temporary southern terminus of BTS Service 1 from Fleetwood. Quite an unusual scene with the familiar yellow and black Tridents turning at this point before a complicated journey back via Dickson Road to the Gynn where they regain the Promenade northbound.
305 Awaiting both its driver and the departure time from Blackpool North on Service 1
Quite heavy pedestrian traffic emanating from the station with children and luggage in tow suggests the need for careful planning on how the tram terminus and capacity is dealt with when the North Station extension from the promenade is completed. At the moment arriving visitors process slowly down the northside of Talbot Road from the Station to gain trams or buses at North Pier stops. This is not an attractive way for visitors to arrive in Blackpool, whether for a day or longer, given the semi derelict shop buildings now a feature of this once vibrant commercial heart of the town. Nor is the barren area which was once known as Talbot Square - any the more desirable given the large empty rubble strewn site which marked the former Yates Wine Lodge property, and the run down frontage of the once classic Clifton Hotel whose current owners would appear to pursue a policy of benign neglect over their premier Blackpool hospitality offer. The Town Hall itself, as mentioned in a previous blog this year, is equally in need of exterior attention, even just getting the windows cleaned and polished would be a start.
The closure of North Station and the line to Preston in its entirety for passenger trains after the Illuminations end in November - for six months will cause a jolt to regular travellers. Some 22 new buses are due for delivery to BTS but either contracted to Arriva Trains or otherwise assigned to rail replacement service from Blackpool to Preston while this critical work is carried out. The buses will be to the same format as the latest fleet arrivals from Falkirk, but the lower decks/saloons will be fitted with large luggage racks to deal with travellers embarking for destinations further afield and afar.
One of the Tridents waiting to take up duty northbound on the 1 at North Station was summarily withdrawn after a perceptive driver noticed a large bolt embedded in the rear tyre. A buildup of further buses from Fleetwood created an impressive scene reminiscent of former Corporation Transport days across the road in Talbot Road Bus Station - at least to this writer. (Below)
A covey? of Tridents turning at North Station on Service 1 on Saturday afternoon
Another arrival on Service 1 - this time with North Pier on its destination screen - when it should have been North Station just like the good old days on the original tramway service from Fleetwood to North Station.