Sunday 27 May 2012

Scorcher of a Heritage Tour

Saturday saw Bolton 66 and Boat 600 in use on the heritage service
This weekend saw temperatures soaring into the mid-twenties in Blackpool, providing a great opportunity to make the most of the open-toppers. It's a great pity therefore that the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 seems to be being used an excuse to prevent these trams from being used in normal service, and potential passengers are continuing to be turned away at stops, which is a waste of much needed potential revenue. The open-top trams used to be a real crowd puller on hot weekends such as this, but because the disability access legislation appears to be being invoked seven years early (the act only comes into force in 2019), these good times are now just a thing of the past for the general public, who would simply just like to be able to use the trams as a means of getting around from A to B.

Boat car 600 southbound past the Metropole on Saturday 26th May
Sunday saw an all open-top service on the Heritage Tour provided by 706 and 600
Boat 600 northbound at Gynn Square on the Sunday
Northbound 706 passing Flexity 012 at the Gynn heading for Starr Gate

Accident damaged 014 returns to service

Flexity 014 on 26th May on its first day back in service after the accident (note this is the undamaged end of the tram)
Gazette photo showing front and side panel damage
Blackpool's newest tram, Flexity 014, returned to service on Saturday after being hit by a woman motorist at Rossall Square last Tuesday. The car driver chose to ignore the red traffic lights and collided with 014 on the crossing. Replacement end and side panels from another tram appear to have been used, note the mis-aligned vinyls on the photo taken at Gynn Square below, also note that at the repaired end the fleet number reads "0" instead of "014", this is due to the panel coming off another tram.
014 at Gynn Square, showing the replacement side panel off another tram, emphasised by the mis-aligned vinyls

Friday 18 May 2012

Flexities 013 and 014 enter service

Flexity 013 at the London Street stop in Lord Street, Fleetwood on its first day in service
The two newest Flexity 2 trams to be delivered, 013 and 014, have both now been commisioned and entered passenger service, after having had their vinyls and fleet numbers applied.

Flexity 014 approaching the Fisherman's Walk stop at Ash Street in Fleetwood on its first day of service

Second Metrolink Tram withdrawn

Metrolink T-68 tram 1004 crossing the canal bridge in Aytoun Street on 24th March heading for Media City
Following withdrawal of the first Ansaldo Firema T-68 last month (1011), Metrolink has now withdrawn tram 1004, as part of the process to reduce the number of older vehicles in service.

Saturday 12 May 2012

Flexity 002 departs for Germany

002 and transporter early in the morning of 12th May at Starr Gate, ready for the return trip to Germany

Flexity 002 departed Starr Gate at 0900 this morning for its journey back to Bombardier in Germany. The reason for the return of 002 is not known, although it is rumoured that it may be due to damage caused when the Bombardier factory at Bautzen was flooded, which caused millions of Euros of damage. The transporter had to reverse from its loading position on the promenade, back through the platforms at Starr Gate and across the traffic lights into Clifton Drive, before turning right into Squires Gate Lane to begin its journey across the Pennines to the docks at Hull.

Flexity 008, on the 0830 service from Starr Gate to Fleetwood, passes 002 waiting for its police escort to arrive

Service car 012 about to move out of the way of the reversing transporter

012 had to back onto the turning loop (complete with passengers) in order to allow the transporter to reverse past

002 after reversing across the lights into Clifton Drive, with the St Annes sandhills visible in the background

The transporter turning right through the traffic lights from Clifton Drive into Squires Gate Lane

Manouevring across the central reservation on Squires Gate Lane, not helped by a parked car being in the way

002 approaching the top of the railway bridge on Squires Gate Lane on its way to the M55 motorway

002 and transporter passing the Kirkham junction of the M55 motorway at 0920

Friday 11 May 2012

Flexity 002 to return to Bombardier

Flexity 002 about to have its pantograph tied down, ready for transporting back to Germany, with 010 passing by
Flexity 002 is being returned to the Bombardier factory at Bautzen in Germany for attention to unspecified problems. Shortly after newly delivered Flexity 014 was unloaded at lunch time, 002 was driven from the depot yard to the foot of the transporter's rail ramp in readiness for loading. Flexity 002 was winched onto the transporter and tied down, ready for an early morning departure the next day. 002 has been used for several months as a driver trainer, with the occasional foray into passsenger service, so it's unsure as to what problem could be so serious to warrant transporting the tram all the way back to Germany.

002 being winched onto the transporter

002 loaded onto the transporter, about to bid farewell to Blackpool after several months use on driver training

Flexity 002 securely tied down onto the transporter, with southbound service car 004 passing

Flexity 014 Arrives

Flexity 2 No. 014 negotiating the junction onto the Promenade at the bottom of Squires Gate Lane
Flexity 014 arrived in the UK via Hull docks on the morning of Thursday 10th May, but was only allowed to travel across the M62 through Yorkshire after the evening rush hour, similarly to 013 two weeks earlier. 014 spent the night at Rivington Services on the M61 near Bolton, then after the morning rush hour had cleared continued the journey to Blackpool, arriving just before noon. The unloading went smoothly, and an hour and twenty minutes after arriving 014 was being driven into Starr Gate depot under its own power.

Flexity 014's transporter waiting for service car 006 to clear the platforms at Starr Gate
The transporter passing Flexity 002, which will be its return load back to Bautzen in Germany
014 passing Flexity 007, which was sat on the headshunt while manouevring in the depot area
The rail ramp assembled in readiness for unloading Flexity 014
Service car 012 passing Flexity 014 on its transporter
014 part way down the ramp with service car 004 passing
Flexity 014 being driven into Starr Gate depot under its own power

Monday 7 May 2012

FTS Convention Weekend Day Three

Balloon 717 in the short lived early morning sunshine at Little Bispham, on the first heritage trip of the day
The third day of the FTS convention weekend saw light passenger loadings on the Heritage Tour, as most of the FTS members had gone on a bus trip to the Heaton Park Tramway in Manchester. Both 717 and 147 were noted carrying only five passengers each on the first workings of the day at Little Bispham.

717 rounding Little Bispham loop with the Irish Sea in the background
By the time that 147 arrived at Little Bispham half an hour later, the weather had deteriorated into a dull overcast day

Sunday 6 May 2012

FTS Convention Weekend Day Two

The Western Train approaching the Pleasure Beach to begin the first service of the day on the Heritage Tour
The second day of the FTS convention weekend promised to quite a special one on the Heritage Tours, with the Western Train expected to be in service all day. The day augured well as it was sunnier and less windy than the Saturday, so when the Western Train duly arrived at the Pleasure Beach for loading just before 10:00, everything seemed to be going to plan. Unfortunately we were informed that the compressor wasn't working, and that the track brakes were being used instead of the air brakes. After loading up we set off northbound, but at North Pier we were sidelined into the loop so that fitters from Rigby Road depot could have a look at our faulty compressor. The tram was deemed to be unservicable, so all passengers had to disembark and board passing Standard 147 which was the other tram operating the tours. The Western Train was towed back to the depot by the Unimog and replaced in service by Bolton 66. After the lunchtime crew breaks at the Pleasure Beach, Bolton 66 was replaced by Boat 600, and 706 'Princess Alice' took over from Standard 147, the weather being ideally suited for the open-top cars.

Bolton 66 was replaced by Boat 600 after the crew break at the Pleasure Beach
Open-top Balloon 706 'Princess Alice' replaced Standard 147 for the second half of the day

Saturday 5 May 2012

FTS Convention Weekend Day One

Boat 600 sailing along the North Promenade approaching Warley Road, on a sunny but chilly Saturday morning

600 passes Flexity 008 heading north at Manchester Square
The Fylde Tramway Society convention weekend normally includes a few tram tours, but this year Blackpool Transport were unable to accommodate any private hires due to lack of staff, however they had kindly arranged to operate an interesting variety of trams on the Heritage Tram service over the weekend, and a preferential ticket price was available to FTS members who booked their tickets in advance. Saturday saw Boat 600 and Box 40 in use in the morning, with Bolton 66 replacing Box 40 in the afternoon, to provide a bit of variety. 600 was making its debut outing in passenger service this year.

Boat 600 pauses at the Heritage tram stop at North Pier on its second run of the day northbound
Box 40 loading up at the Heritage car stop on the Pleasure Beach loop
Bolton 66 replaced Box 40 in the afternoon, by which time the clear blue skies had long since vanished