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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Blackpool In Lockdown

This weekend Blackpool's town centre has been a shadow of its former self resulting from continuance of Government guideline on social restrictions while the current virus infection impacts on the country. Blackpool's streets were doused in continual sunlight as April gave way to May and impending visitor traffic (in normal times).

Blackpool Transport has placed its appeal/application for Government funding towards the town's light rail service which is presently halted completely. This is part of a recently announced grant to light rail operators in England to help offset stark falls in farebox revenue. A decision to close the tram service down was taken over two weeks ago partly because of the fare collection format which involved roving conductors on the cars. The BTS Promenade Bus Service 1 duplicates the tram service for much of its route, except in Fleetwood where the buses deviate from the reserved track line between Rossall and Ash Street (Fisherman's Walk).

The bus fleet has been augmented by arrival of the latest 2020 tranche of new vehicles ordered from ADL but due to the current crisis all the new deliveries have been placed in store. Buses still operating have been fitted with extra plastic partitioning around the driver's position - while all single fares have been fixed at £1.50. Seating close to the front entrance and driver's position have been 'closed off' with rudimentary warning tape. Below:

Driver's position sealed off apart from a small aperture for coins. Warning signage abounds.

A new feature of the ADL destination screen is an optional line of text advising the time before the bus departs from a principal stop. An example is seen at the Number 1 Service stop opposite the Visitor Centre. Apparently this is infrequently utilised by drivers and this was the first time the writer had occasion to see an example 'in action' above. It is understood that the Mercedes Citaro buses do not incorporate this additional signage - possibly due to the likelihood of these buses being sold on in the forseeable future.

The Wilko property on Talbot Road is no longer trading and presumably demolition of the entire building will commence once the Government relaxes rules on construction firms and related contractors. In the meantime Talbot Road's tramway leads directly towards the front entrance of the former store awaiting a change in fortunes with installation of overhead power wiring - and the long promised new terminal station for train passengers arriving and departing from Blackpool North.

One of Blackpool's superlative buses awaits the off on Talbot Road with still untested tram track alongside leading to the former Wilko store bereft of signage now and awaiting demolition (finally). This was the site of the original North Station terminal building. Tram tracks did indeed run along Talbot Road (and New Road) all the way as far as Layton Cemetery up to 1936. This would be part of the tram service to Victoria Hospital and Stanley Park in the years ahead - following much of the same route as far as Layton.


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