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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

A Taste of St Peter's Square

No, not the Rome one. Manchester's Metrolink goes from strength to strength with admirable infrastructure design and operation. What is especially noticeable for a visitor from Blackpool is the almost silent running on street track, expecially over points and track junctions. St Peter's Square exemplifies the level of investment and construction which makes Manchester's trams now such a great asset to the city's urban environment and the sense of dynamic growth here 'up north'.

Of particular relevance are the classical high platform station shelters and layout which have echoes of the Paris Metropolitan station canopies and signage going back one hundred years. Contrast this with the dour off the shelf bargain basement knocked together low end shelters adorning Blackpool's tramway: many with missing glazing and broken panels. Obviously a lot of homework needs to be done by Blackpool Council who are responsible for the tramway infrastructure within the Borough. Let's hope the North station extension and its two station stops at Talbot Square and at Blackpool North / Bickerstaffe Square are dealt with in a far more enhanced fashion than the dismal and depressing seafront examples.

A visit to Birmingham and the Midland Metro operation likewise immediately shows up the difference in quality and attention to passenger needs compared to the poor level of design which is currently the hallmark of Blackpool's light rail delivery. A familiar refrain on this blog. Perhaps one day Blackpool's glasshouse mandarins might travel afield to see how light rail actually enhances urban settings and makes users (ie residents) feel good about their tram system. Starting of course with the wholly uninspiring fleet branding - now (thankfully) being diluted by sponsor designs.

Trams heading in all directions - and with a lightened livery, even if it can be a bit boring after a while.

Note the foliage and greenery. Another obvious omission in Blackpool town centre which can boast a total of FOUR trees in the entire central district. Not much chance of this Local Authority winning any environmental prizes.

High platform light rail on street tracks is not everyone's cup of tea (or coffee) but Manchester seems to get it right with attractive shelter canopies and even tree planting to break up the platform ambience. And yes, there are electronic signs (all working) providing real time tram arrival information. There's a long way to go on the Fylde coast to get 21st urban light rail delivery right.

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