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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Snacks By Tram

John Woodman

I was reminded this week of a credible scheme to create a restaurant style tram for operation on the line to Fleetwood which would have involved a Coronation class car or alternatively a twin-set. Apparently this effort didn't get further than design options for the Coronation car (thank you Mike). The nearest Blackpool got to a dining car experience was the Walls Ice Cream 'eatery' within a much altered Balloon car. Private tours have included one-off refreshments of sorts although a standard procedure has been for many to break their journey at Fleetwood tram loop whilst passengers avail themselves of more substantial repasts within the 'North Euston' hotel.

However elsewhere in former years I sampled the rare experience of tramcar 'dining' on two seperate occasions. The Rheinbahn interurban services which ran from Jan Wellem Platz in the centre of Dusseldorf had two routes both of which were equipped with trams incorporating small buffet units. The 'D' service to Duisburg and the 'K' service to Krefeld departed from adjacent tracks using lengthened 'Duwag' articulated cars. These included a mid section kitchen and dining space (actually small tables amid facing seats) with a modest menu card (of the day) that featured soup, bratwurst and brotwurst with crunchy 'brodchen' and naturally a beer of one's choice (or coffee). I recall the singular occasion I sampled the service to Duisburg whilst stationed in Germany and availed myself of a leisurely German sausage (warmed up) together with a beer which accompanied me most of the journey.

In later years I found myself visiting Zurich with the extra benefit of a warm summer afternoon and chance encounter with a special tram tour service that offered similar fare plus the added option of an icecream sundae which was served in an accompanying open trailer unit. The food being served inside a Zurich articulated car from a small kitchenette. This endeavour was operated under franchise by a private Swiss firm and took passengers on a fifty minute ride around central Zurich with no particular route being followed as far as I can recall.

Down under - in New Zealand a much more upmarket dining experience has been provided in Christchurch which boasts a marvellous heritage tramway. This utilises a former Melbourne car decked out in a special distinctive livery. The menu is a far cry from simple German fare and comes with wine and table service. In Melbourne a not dissimilar venture involves a similar tram with scheduled pre-booked tables and timings. Again a full dining experience has been on offer whilst touring the extensive tram system for which this city is noted.

Hong Kong Tramways, not to be outdone, has used its two exotic double deck cars for a dining experience which involves stop offs at one or more upmarket restaurants adjoining the city's tramway. No doubt there may be further examples around the world no longer running but one does stick in my mind - the celebrated 'Electroliner' interurban service in Chicago and its adjoining communities. Two special articulated cars were built to operate with dining car facilities for the morning and evening rush hour timetabled services (no tourist operation here). Hamburgers and beer being favourite staples in addition to other selected offerings. The nearest I ever got to this was an evening commute out of New York's Grand Central Station to my home in Westchester County on a Metro-North train service which included what was optimistically termed a 'bar car'. In actual fact it was a standard coach but with a temporary 'bar' fitted across three rows of seats behind which white jacketed staff dolled out beers and 'chasers' to hardened customers familiar with the position of the car in the long line of coaches. Refreshments consisted of bags of pretzels, chips and peanuts.

I'm happy to include further dining experiences (on trams) if proffered by readers of this Blog. Of course it would be wonderful if that Coronation Dining Car was ever to emerge from Rigby Road Works so I can avail myself of its temptations. Currently the nearest we have to tramway dining in Blackpool is at Bispham Tram Station now leased to an enterprising business which provides light refreshments and icecream from where the Inspector's office and Cash Office were once resident.


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