Wednesday 4 April 2012

First Flexity to run in Service Derails

Flexity 006, with lights ablaze in Starr Gate depot, preparing to become the first Flexity 2 to run in passenger service
Flexity 006 showing the onboard information displays
The first passenger journey on the new light rail system in Blackpool took place on Wednesday 4th April. Flexity 006 was the tram which made the inaugural passenger run, leaving Starr Gate terminus at 05:00. Most of the passengers were local enthusiasts wishing to experience this special occasion. The tram left Starr Gate as planned, beginning the historic trip to Fleetwood. It was soon realised that all was not as it should be, when it was found the onboard heating system was not working.
Flexity 006 about to make history by being the first tram in service on the new upgraded light rail system in Blackpool

Onboard view of the derailment upon exiting Bold Street
A little further on (somewhere around the Cabin) the onboard passenger displays and stop announcement system ceased to function, also the bell pushes weren't working. During the night the Fylde had experienced quite strong winds, and progress was delayed as the tram had to stop four times in Cleveleys and Fleetwood for the crew to clear wind blown debris from the track. The arrival at Fleetwood Ferry was slightly later than timetabled due to all the unscheduled stops that had to be made.
Flexity 006 derailed at Fleetwood Ferry, with route 14 bus 307 commandeered to take the passengers to Ash Street

Close up of the front bogie derailed on the Bold St curve

Unfortunately on leaving the stop at Fleetwood Ferry in Bold Street, the tram derailed on the curve onto The Esplanade due to wind blown sand in the grooved track. Derailments at this point have not been uncommon in the past due to the proximity to the beach, but to happen on the inaugural run of the new light rail system must have been rather embarrassing for Blackpool Transport, although it was through no fault of the tram crew themselves.
The grooves in the tarmac show that Flexity 006 departed the track at the curve by about a foot before it came to rest

The above photo taken after 006 had been rerailed and moved back into Bold Street shows that the front bogie ran straight on after hitting the sand filled track, and came to rest about a foot to the left of the rails in the middle of the word "Tram".

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