Saturday 29 December 2012

FTS tour on Twin Set 272+T2

Twin Set T2+272 on the FTS tour, northbound on North Albert Street in Fleetwood
The Fylde Tramway Society ran a tour of the Blackpool Tramway system using heritage Twin Set 272+T2 on Saturday 29th December. The trams were only permitted to stop at designated Heritage Tour tram stops, which limited the places that photo stops could be made. Midway through the tour an hour break was taken at Fleetwood, with the set laying over on the Ferry loop between 13:50 and 14:50. The following photos were all taken while 272+T2 was in Fleetwood mid-afternoon.

T2+272 passing Fleetwood Hospital on North Albert Street, approaching the Bold Street terminus
T2+272 offloading its passengers at the Fleetwood Ferry stop in Bold Street, behind service Flexity 004
T2+272 laying over on the loop track adjacent to the Fleetwood Ferry building and cafe
Flexity 015 on its way to Starr Gate passes T2+272 at Fleetwood Ferry
T2+272 is passed by Flexity 014 on the service to Starr Gate, with the North Euston Hotel in the background
T2+272 on the loop at Fleetwood Ferry, with Pharos Street lighthouse in the background
T2+272 resuming the second half of the tour, seen here southbound in North Albert Street in Fleetwood
T2+272 with the FTS party back onboard head off southbound down Lord Street in Fleetwood

Monday 24 December 2012

Last run of the Santa Express

The last run of the Western Train on the Santa Express specials was on the afternoon of 23rd December
The last day of the Santa Express excursions was on Sunday 23rd of December. The 14:00 departure from the Pleasure Beach on the last day saw reasonable loadings of passengers riding the Western Train on its round trip to Little Bispham. Hopefully the lessons learned during the three weekends of the Santa Express specials will see some improvement in the marketing and ticket arrangements, if similar specials are to planned for Christmas 2013.

The Rocket loses its shine

The Rocket is beginning to fade away on Gynn Square roundabout, with many of its lights no longer working now
While the Rocket has been illuminated again in the weeks running up to Christmas, it is now beginning to look a bit ragged around the edges with many of its lights no longer working. The tram looked pristine when it was first lit up for the illuminations, but the months it has spent on Gynn Square roundabout exposed to the elements have taken their toll on the lights, with the tram slowly fading away.

A side view of the Rocket on Gynn Square roundabout on December 18th
The Rocket seen during the Illuminations on 12th September

Sunday 23 December 2012

Flexity 008 receives NHS advert

Flexity 008 passing the Imperial Hotel with its new NHS advert warning of the dangers of high blood pressure
Flexity 008 entered service on Saturday 22nd December carrying a new National Health Service sponsored advert warning of the dangers of high blood pressure in Blackpool. The advert is on one side of the tram only, and each of the five sections of the Flexity carries a different phrase, unlike many of the adverts that repeat the text over several sections of the tram.

The centre section of 008, warning that high blood pressure is one of Blackpool's biggest killers
Flexity 008 northbound at Cleveleys, showing the opposite end of the new NHS sponsored high blood pressure advert

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Reflections on the Flexity

Flexity 010 passing a puddle by the Sealife Centre, with the Lifeboat Station and the Tower also nicely reflected
A combination of a large puddle, very little wind, wall-to-wall sunshine and no people, enabled these two shots of Flexity cars 010 and 012 to be taken with the Tower in the background on the afternoon of December 18th.

Southbound Flexity 012 passes the same reflecting pool a few moments later

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Preston Council vote to demolish the Bus Station

A 2002 view of Preston Bus Station, with Leyland Lynx 218 on route 11 to Ribbleton
On the evening of Monday 17th December, Preston Council's Cabinet met to decide the future of the iconic bus station. Preston City Council's Corporate Management Team recommended that the Cabinet agree "to demolish the Bus Station and Car Park and devise proposals to bring forward the site for development". The Bus Station and Car Park was built in 1969 and is 560 feet long and nine storeys high, the Bus Station has 80 bays and the Car Park has 1100 car parking spaces.

There has been a threat to demolish the Bus Station for several years, associated with the dead in the water Tithebarn Project. Despite the Tithebarn Project collapsing, the council seem determined to destroy one of Preston's most iconic buildings, the latest excuse being a lack of cash to maintain the structure. The figures seem to have been massaged in order to imply that it will be cheaper to demolish the whole building and construct a brand new smaller version, rather than maintaining and utilising the excellent facility that they already have in place.

A Preston Council press statement on the demolition decision is available here:-

A view from the north end of Preston Bus Station showing the 40 stands used for Preston Bus local services
A 2007 view showing Leyland Olympian 134 on route 12 to the Bus Station
Leyland Lynx 226 arriving on route 16, this access road has been barricaded off in recent years in the name of safety
The 40 stands on the east side were generally used by independent operators like Ribble, Stagecoach and Fishwick
An aerial view of the western side of the Bus Station showing the Car Park and the bays used by Preston Bus
A closer view of the Preston Bus bays, several of which have been extended with islands and barriers added on
An inside view of the eastern side of the Bus Station, showing that there were originally 80 bus bays in total
The busy newsagents and Preston Bus enquiry office are seen in this 2002 view of the Bus Station
The two lane entrance and exit ramp at the south end of the multi-storey car park above the Bus Station

A view inside the 1100 space car park above the Bus Station, showing one of the ramps down to the next level

A 2007 view taken from Lord St, showing The Tithebarn pub on the left and Optare Solo 96 on route 3 to Penwortham

A 2012 view, showing the southern link road barricaded off to create a one-way system and a new zebra crossing
A 2012 view from a rather deserted car park level on the western side of the Bus Station
The deserted and now disused taxi rank at the south end of the Bus Station

Flexity Engineering Car

Flexity 001 approaching the Pleasure Beach displaying the unusual destination "Engineering"
Flexity 001 was spotted southbound at the Pleasure Beach on the morning of December 18th displaying the unusual wording "Engineering" on the destination screen. 001 and a northbound service car were held up at the entrance to the turning loop as the points were being worked on (Photos courtesy of Max Cleworth).

Flexity 001 and a northbound service car waiting while the points are being worked on at the Pleasure Beach

Monday 17 December 2012

Balloon 700 returns to Rigby Road

Balloon 700 has returned to Rigby Road after its sojourn in the new depot at Starr Gate, seen here alongside 717
Balloon 700 returned to Rigby Road depot over the weekend, having spent several weeks in the new tram depot at Starr Gate in the company of Brush car 631. Note the new depot gate (open) which is just visible at the far right of the picture.

Sunday 16 December 2012

The second weekend of the Santa Express

The Western Train northbound at The Metropole Hotel on the second Santa special of the day on 16th December
The second weekend of the Santa Express saw very poor loadings again. The 10:00 run from the Pleasure beach was noted heading north with only a handful of passengers on board. The second departure at 11:30 was rather more eventful, at some point on the return leg from Little Bispham the tram must have developed some problems, as it was noted at Bispham on the centre track with the Unimog in attendance.

The Western Train southbound at the Tower tram stop just before 11:00, with Flexity 013 heading off north
The Western Train just south of the Tower at 11:00, with the North Pier visible in the background

New Gates fitted at Rigby Road Depot

The new gates now in place in front of the fitting shop at Rigby Road tram depot
A month and a half after work commenced on building a new permanent fence across the front of Rigby Road tram depot, the gates are now starting to be fitted. On Thursday 13th December, new gates were noted in place across the fitting shop access track from Hopton Road. On a subsequent visit to the depot on Sunday 16th December, it was noted that both sets of gates are now in place in front of the tram depot, replacing the temporary fencing that has been there for some time.

New gates are also now in place across the front of the running shed as well, seen here on 16th December
An overall view of the completed fencing and gates at Rigby Road tram depot on 16th December

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Flexity 002 before and after

Flexity 002 passing the Comedy Carpet opposite the Tower on its second day of post commissioning use
Flexity 002 was on driver training again on its second day of post commissioning use on Tuesday 11th December. The only day that 002 has been used in passenger service so far this year was on the second day of Flexity operation on 5th April, 002 had been in use on driver training earlier that day, but was unexpectedly pressed into passenger service as an extra from Starr Gate to Bispham and return in the afternoon. The photo below shows 002 on its only day of passenger use this year on the special to Bispham on 5th April, the tram was displaying the unusual destination "Bispham Station", although as usual the camera shutter has not fully captured the indicator display.

002 on its only day in passenger service so far on 5th April, note "Bispham Station" shown on the destination display

Monday 10 December 2012

Flexity 002 back in action

Flexity 002 is back in action again, seen here in use on driver training duties near St Chad's Rd on 10th December
Flexity 002 is finally back in use again, over five weeks after it returned from Bombardier at Bautzen in Germany on 1st November, where it had been receiving upgrades and modifications. 002 was in use on driver training duties this afternoon, being noted as far north as Bispham, where it spent a while sat on the centre loop before returning south. This is the first time that the tram has been used with its full vinyl branding and fleet numbers, as when 002 was sent back to Germany in May it was devoid of vinyls or numbering. Hopefully now that the tram has been commissioned and is back in use, it won't be too long before it enters passenger service.

Saturday 8 December 2012

Western Train on the Santa Express

Santa and his little helpers pose for the camera before running the first Santa Express tour of the day
December 8th saw the first day of the Santa Express specials operated by Blackpool Transport, utilising the Western Train running from the Pleasure Beach to Little Bispham and return. The tours were timed to run at 10:00, 11:30 and 14:00. Unfortunately the day started with a bit of a whimper, with no passengers at all on the first journey! The 11:30 departure didn't fare much better either, only managing to attract one family on board. Perhaps the poor patronage was due to BTS insisting that the tickets be pre-booked, rather than people just turning up on the day. Despite the shortage of passengers, Santa and his elves took it all in good humour. Visit the Santa Express website at for more information, if you would like to treat your children to a journey on the Western Train to see Santa.

The Western Train arriving back at the Pleasure Beach after it's first journey of the day, sans passengers
One of the elves opening the door for Santa to disembark after his rather quiet journey to Little Bispham and back
Santa and his merry helpers take a break after their less than busy first round trip to Little Bispham
The Western Train turning round on Little Bispham loop during its second trip of the day, again with rather a light load!