Friday, 23 April 2021

Isle of Man Catamaran Manannan on Heysham Service

HSC Manannan on the 1415 departure from Heysham to Douglas on 23rd April
The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company high-speed catamaran Manannan has been running on the daily Douglas to Heysham ferry service this week, replacing the usual conventional ship on the route. The regular ferry that operates out of Heysham, the Ben-my-Chree, has been dry-docked at Cammell Laird in Birkenhead since Monday 19th April for her annual regulatory overhaul.

HSC Manannan was built by Incat of Tasmania in Australia in 1998, and from 2001 until 2008 the high-speed vessel operated as a military transport with the United States Navy under the name 'Joint Venture', she was painted overall grey and fitted with a helideck at the aft end. In 2008 the catamaran was purchased by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, and after a 3 million pound refit she entered passenger service from Douglas in May 2009. The Manannan normally operates a seasonal service between Douglas and Liverpool, and in winter is kept as a reserve ferry.

Manannan approaching Heysham after crossing the Irish Sea from Douglas

Manannan about to pass the lighthouse at the entrance to Heysham Harbour

Manannan passing between the stone roundheads at the entrance to Heysham Harbour

HSC Manannan berthed at the linkspan in Heysham Port

Manannan leaving Heysham with its linkspan berth visible to the right

Manannan about to leave Heysham Harbour on the 1415 service to Douglas

Manannan passing the lighthouse on the South Roundhead at Heysham Harbour

Manannan leaving Heysham on its way to the Isle of Man


The catamaran while in United States Navy service in August 2002 (photo USN)

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Trailer Towing Car 671 leaves Blackpool

671 heading along Rigby Road, passing under the Seasiders Way overbridge near the Odeon cinema
As part of the clear out of privately owned heritage trams announced by Blackpool Transport in December last year, trailer towing car 671 left Rigby Road tram depot on Sunday 18th April. Reid Freight Services arrived on the Sunday morning with a Mercedes-Benz Actros tractor unit and low loader trailer to collect the tram. After a trouble free loading process 671 left Blundell Street just after midday, destined for a new home at the North West Museum of Road Transport in St. Helens, where it due to be repainted into the 1960s all-over cream livery.

671 inching up the rail ramp onto the low loader trailer

671 being winched onboard the low loader

Trailer towing car 671 in position on the low loader

671 all chained down on Reid's low loader and ready to depart

671 on Rigby Road, passing the new housing opposite the bus depot

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Hybrid Electric Streetdeck in Preston

Wright Streetdeck Hybrid on Church Street in Preston on 6th April
Wright Streetdeck Hybrid Electric 40715 (SK18 TKX) is currently operating with Preston Bus. SK18 TKX was constructed as a demonstrator in May 2018, being acquired by Rotala in November 2019. Rotala initially allocated the former demonstrator to their Diamond Bus North West operation in Bolton, the Streetdeck moved on to Rotala owned Preston Bus in December 2020.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Blackpool Tram Benches

The two stainless steel tram benches in Talbot Square
A pair of stainless steel tram benches were installed adjacent to The Counting House pub in Talbot Square in Autumn 2020. The benches are based on a Brush Car and an OMO Car, although artistic licence means that they are merely inspired by real trams rather than being miniature replicas. The benches were designed by artist Andy Hazell, and another two will be positioned at the North Station terminus of the new tramway extension when it is completed. The four tram benches were funded by a £17,000 grant through the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership under its Growth Deal. The seats have proved to be very popular with the public, and this conspired with the lockdown, restrictions on travel and the vagaries of the weather, has meant that six months have elapsed before I've managed to get to Blackpool to get some decent sunny shots of the benches while unoccupied.

The tram benches in Talbot Square

The OMO Car tram bench

A profile view of the Brush Car tram bench

A profile view of the OMO Car tram bench

The Brush Car tram bench

Monday, 15 March 2021

Harrow Place to Fisherman's Walk Tram Service

Flexity 011 stopped at the Harrow Place terminus for passengers to alight
On Monday 15th March, trams in Blackpool were operating between Harrow Place and Fisherman's Walk in Fleetwood. Engineering work on the track at Starr Gate and around Fleetwood Ferry necessitated a truncated tram service, although by late morning the work at Fleetwood Ferry had been completed, and trams began running to the northern terminus of the line once again.

Flexity 005 using the facing points at Abercorn Place to cross to the northbound line

Flexity 013 using the facing crossover to the northbound line at Abercorn Place

Flexity 011 up against the barrier on the northbound line near Abercorn Place

Flexity 011 with track welding taking place on the curve to Starr Gate

Flexity 005 approaching Harrow Place on its way to Fisherman's Walk

Flexity 013 bound for Fisherman's Walk, 5 minutes later (at 1110) the line to Fleetwood Ferry reopened

Flexity 013 with its destination now changed to Fleetwood Ferry due to the line being reopened

Flexity 012 at Talbot Square heading south to Harrow Place

Thursday, 11 March 2021

Trams to Fisherman's Walk

Flexity 016 and Coastliner Buses Optare Versa YJ10EYZ at the beginning of Lord St in Fleetwood
On Wednesday 10th March, the partial tram service because of engineering work was extended from Little Bispham to Fisherman's Walk in Fleetwood. The last section of the tramway being worked on was in the area of Fleetwood Ferry, where track welding was taking place on the curves of the terminus loop line. A track barrier was in position on the northbound line preventing trams from encroaching onto Lord Street, trams used the crossover at this point to regain the southbound line for the return run to Starr Gate. All photos were taken on 11th March.

Flexity 005 on the crossover at Fisherman's Walk

Flexity 003 crossing to the southbound line at Fisherman's Walk

Flexity 008 using the crossover at Fisherman's Walk

The guard of Flexity 016 manually setting the points at Fisherman's Walk crossover

Flexity 008 stopped at the barrier at the beginning of Lord Street

The stop sign blocking tram access to Lord Street in Fleetwood

Track welding taking place on the Pharos Street curve at Fleetwood Ferry

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Track Welding

Track welding taking place on the curve at Starr Gate on 22nd February

Part of the ongoing engineering work on the Blackpool Tramway over the last few weeks has been track welding. Strange white tunnels have been popping up along various curves on the tram system, including at Starr Gate, the Metropole and Gynn Square. The white tent like structures are presumably to protect the welding gang from any inclement weather, although welding has been undertaken in some locations without the aid of these tents, notably at Cleveleys. Where worn rail was identified on curves of the sleeper track sections, the solution was simply to replace the old rails with lengths of new rail. On grooved tram track, where the rail is embedded in concrete, it is less disruptive to build the worn rail up (usually on curves) by the use of track welding on the surface of the rail.

The white tent concealing the welding work taking place at Starr Gate on 22nd February
Track welding on the northbound curve near Cleveleys tram stop on 1st March
Grinding the freshly welded rail alongside the Metropole Hotel on 16th February