Blackpool's annual Lights Switch On is with us complete with promenade closure and tramway service dislocated. Amid the due diligence now underway to review the exact circumstances by which a young cyclist found himself under a tram last week - some attention should be given to the visibility of Blackpool's trams.
The fact is that the colours and livery design of the Council owned light rail vehicles are a danger to other road users and pedestrians. Having a dark purple frontage with no light toned relief is thoughtless in terms of health and safety. Perhaps this is most apparent on our trains which are all provided with bright yellow front cab colours. No doubt the railway inspectorate may have some views in any investigation of the incident last week.
When Blackpool Corporation Transport was obliged to use dark green paint for its trams during wartime due to lack of cream paint in the normal quantities required- the Paint Shop came up with a stylish and prominent cream 'vee' on the front of each car needing repaint. Whether or not this lessened the number of accidents is unknown - but it was evidence of concerns even in those dark days, of the importance of having lightened paint on the extremities of trams (and buses). The Army added large white roundels on to the front of all manner of equipment for similar reasons.
The future of the current 'Ride the Lights' affair has to also now take into account the intended extension of the tram service to North Station with trams turning in both directions across the Promenade at North Pier and toing and froing from North Station. Dislocation of the entire light rail service along the seafront with the present arbitrary insistence of passengers needing to get off their paid fare ride and be subject to a lengthy walk through crowds and Blackpool's nighttime revelries in the town centre - is more than simply irritating. Diversion of bus services through the central districts with temporary stops and intermittent changes is equally unacceptable for visitors and residents struggling with young children, mobility aids and umpteen other tribulations at busy times. Possibly once or twice a year is acceptable to most but not with the frequency of events now pushed on to annual calendars and promoted by the visitor gurus in charge of these matters.
Whilst there is merit in encouraging use of bicycles and simple exercise - taking over the promenade entirely at night for the sole purpose of viewing the same old light displays which seemingly get repeated year in and year out (except for switching certain displays from part of the promenade to another) is certainly inviting tragedies of the sort witnessed last week. Of course if trams were to be adorned with special light displays of the kind formerly applied by the Transport Department in days of yore - this might help matters somewhat. One of the heritage trams demonstrates how once Blackpool's trams (single deck types) were given such features for autumn weeks way back when. (Below).
The contrast with the dour Bombardier car alongside requires no comment. The 1930s style wins hands down.