Tuesday 28 May 2013

Heaton Park depot gets the green light

The approach tracks to the site of the new Lakeside depot on the Heaton Park Tramway, seen on March 24th

The lease for the land where the new Heaton Park Tramway depot is to be constructed was finally signed today. This has been a long protracted process because it is public land where the new depot is to be built. Representatives of the Manchester Tramway Company and the Manchester Transport Museum Society signed the lease with Manchester City Council earlier today. This clears the way for the actual construction of the new Lakeside depot to begin in the not too distant future.

Monday 27 May 2013

Spring Bank Holiday Weekend

The highlight of the weekend was surely Centenary car 642 seeing Heritage Tour service, seen here at North Pier
Sunday 26th May saw another excellent day of heritage running on the tramway in Blackpool, with no less than eight of the traditional tram fleet seeing use at some point during the days proceedings. The day started out overcast and grey for the first heritage run to Fleetwood and ended up cloudy for the late afternoon heritage outing to Fleetwood, but in between the first and last trips the sun shone unrelentingly all day in Blackpool. Centenary car 642 was the first tram out on the Heritage Tour, making the by now customary run to Fleetwood and back, with a full standing load. 

The second heritage car out was Balloon 723, which had been the standby snowplough during the winter, and widened Balloons 707 and 713 were in use on specials. Balloon 723 was swapped for Boat car 230 in the early afternoon due to the sunny weather. There were problems at the Pleasure Beach shortly after, when Centenary 642 decided to give up the ghost just after it had departed the loop for a run to Bispham. The tram had ground to a halt on the northbound running line alongside the inspectors hut, having suffered a burnt out traction motor. The problem required the fitters to be called out from the depot, in the meantime northbound service trams were held up and Boat car 230 was imprisoned on the Pleasure Beach loop, being unable to exit until 642 had been moved. 

642 eventually made it back to the depot under its own power, although this had put paid to the planned pairing of the two yellow trams 701 and 642 for the final heritage run to Fleetwood. The crew of 642 re-entered service later with Boat car 600, also flat fronted Balloon 707 was swapped for open-top Balloon 706 Princess Alice at 16:00. Another tram failure, with 230 suffering a compressor fault, meant the early withdrawal from service of this tram, to be replaced with yellow Balloon 701 which emerged from Rigby Road depot at 17:05, just in time to take part in the final heritage run of the day to Fleetwood, with Boat 600 acting as a duplicate on this run.

The weather on the Bank Holiday Monday began to deteriorate rapidly by mid-morning, with solid grey cloud and rain setting in for the remainder of the day, making this a good day to ride the trams but much less successful from a photography point of view.

Balloon 723 reversing on the crossover at Cleveleys, about to head south to North Pier then return to the depot

Balloon 707 on a special, turning onto the loop at the Pleasure Beach

Three Balloons sat line astern at the Pleasure Beach, 723 was on Heritage Tours, and 707 and 713 were on specials

Boat car 230 taking a short break at North Pier while Flexity 015 passes by on its way to Starr Gate

The crew of faulty 642 holding down the pantograph until the fitters arrive from the depot to diagnose the problem

Demic Centenary car 642 is passed by southbound Flexity 006 at the Pleasure Beach

Balloon 701 leaving Lytham Road and entering the Promenade at 17:10, getting ready to make its run to Fleetwood

Balloon 713 on a northbound special to the Cabin, seen here passing Foxhall Square

Northbound open-top 706 passes 701, which has just emerged from the depot and reversed over the points at Foxhall

As the skies begin to cloud over, Boat car 600 runs along North Albert Street in Fleetwood just before 18:30

Balloon 701 rounding the curve from North Albert Street into Lord Street in Fleetwood at 18:45

Boat car 600 ending up the days Heritage Tour proceedings, seen southbound at Rossall School at 18:50

Saturday 25 May 2013

Classic Buses on the Catch 22

1968 Blackpool PD3 No 529 picks up passengers at Clifton Street in Blackpool on a service to Cleveleys
Classic Bus North West held their heritage running day on Saturday 25th May on the Catch 22 bus service that runs from Mereside in Blackpool through to Cleveleys. Buses in use during the day were 1968 Blackpool Leyland PD3 No 529, 1946 Lytham St Annes Leyland PD1 No 19 and CBNW former London Transport AEC Routemaster RM 1568, the other buses on the 22 during the day were the usual Dennis Darts that are used on the service.

1946 Lytham St Annes Leyland PD1 No 19 turning out of Anchorsholme Lane on a Cleveleys bound service

Classic Bus North West's AEC Routemaster RM 1568 arriving in Cleveleys centre on the Catch 22 service

Blackpool PD3 No 529 heads down Reads Avenue in Blackpool town centre on a Catch 22 service to Mereside

Lytham St Annes Leyland PD1 No 19 stops at Clifton Street in Blackpool on a Cleveleys bound service

Blackpool PD3 No 529 turning from Talbot Square into Clifton Street in the centre of Blackpool on the Catch 22

Spring Bank Holiday Saturday

The day was wound up as usual with a heritage run to Fleetwood, 706 is seen in North Albert Street just after 6.30pm
Saturday 25th May saw the start of another three days of Heritage Tours and Balloon specials in Blackpool. The star of the show was intended to have been Centenary 648, which was due to have been given an earlier look and feel, by the removal of the advert boards and the receipt of a green and cream paint job. In the event the amount of work that needed doing to 648 meant the tram was not going to be completed in time for the weekend, and Bolton 66 was used as a substitute instead. 648 was displayed on Hopton Road in the afternoon, so that enthusiasts could see the progress of the work so far. Other trams in service during the weekend were 706 Princess Alice, Boats 230 and 600 and widened Balloons 711, 719  and 700.

Boat 600 heading south past North Pier with a light loading of passengers

Boat 230 running North Pier to Pleasure Beach shuttles is seen being passed by Flexity 006 at North Pier

719 was one of the widened Balloons in use on specials during the day, seen here heading south at North Pier

The early afternoon run to Fleetwood was handled by widened Balloon 711, seen here southbound on Lord Street

Although Centenary 648 was not ready in time for the weekend, it was put on display for a while in Hopton Road

Thursday 23 May 2013

The Fylde Coast Express

Black Five 44932 powering the Fylde Coast Express at speed through Layton Station at 13:10 on its way to Blackpool
Wednesday 22nd May saw a steam special excursion visit Blackpool North Station. The Fylde Coast Express was run by Compass Tours, beginning from Kilmarnock in Scotland the train was hauled by class 47 diesels to Carlisle, from here Black Five 44932 took over for the rest of the journey to Blackpool. The return trip to Kilmarnock later in the day was hauled by diesel locos 47854 & 47786.

44932 passes diesel 47786 at Blackpool North No 2 Box, waiting to hook up for the return trip to Kilmarnock

Black Five 44932 passing the semaphore signals as it reverses out of Blackpool North Station

Black Five 44932 continues to reverse the Fylde Coast Express out of Blackpool North

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Classic Bus North West heritage running day

Former Blackpool Corporation Leyland Titan PD3 No 529 seen operating on the CBNW Seafront 12 service in 2012

On Saturday 25th May, Classic Bus North West will be taking you on a ride into yesteryear using a selection of heritage buses on its "Catch 22" service operating between Cleveleys and Mereside.

Once more you will hear the cries of "any more fares" and "hold tight please" as some classic buses from Blackpool's past stretch their legs on this 12 mile route. A 1946 ex-Lytham double deck, a 1967 Blackpool PD3 and an iconic London Routemaster will be guest stars on the 30 minute Saturday service and normal fares will apply, including free travel for OAPs and a £4 day ticket for Adults (£2 for under 16s).

The origins of service 22 date back as far as 1936 when trams along Central Drive and Talbot Road to Layton were replaced by buses. It was progressively extended as new housing was constructed to Bispham and Cleveleys at the northern end, and along St Annes Road towards Halfway House. Later still, in 1983, service 22 was extended to St Annes and Lytham, but in 2001 it was replaced as part of Blackpool's "Metro Coastlines" network of simplified high frequency routes.

However, in September of last year the service was revived by Classic Bus North West, operating along some sections of the historic route 22, but making some new links not served by existing Blackpool Transport buses.

Saturday will be an opportunity to take a trip on the transport of yesteryear and there are already plans to repeat the event in the near future with some other gems from Blackpool's transport past.

timetable with bus allocations is available for download on the Catch 22 website.

Ex London Transport Routemaster RML 887 at Gynn Square running on the Classic Bus Seafront 12 service last year

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Nottingham Express Transit

NET 203 in the original green, silver and black livery, at the Old Market Square stop in Nottingham city centre
A short visit to the Nottinghamshire area over the weekend afforded a chance to visit the very interesting Nottingham Express Transit system, known locally as NET. The new tram system began operation on 9th March 2004 and was an instant hit with the public. The visit took place during a transitional period, where the existing livery of green, silver and black is gradually being supplanted by a predominantly silver livery with a green band. The system has street track for several miles from the city centre to the beginning of the suburbs where it changes to reserved track, paralleling an existing heavy rail line to the terminus at Hucknall nine miles away, there is also a short single track spur line to a park-and-ride car park at Phoenix Park. The on street trackage is particularly interesting, as a good portion of it is over hilly terrain with many twists and turns, the contrast with the straight and flat coastal tramway in Blackpool being very marked. Both systems are operated by Bombardier 100% low floor trams, Nottingham using 15 Incentro AT6/5 models, whereas Blackpool use 16 of the more modern Flexity 2 trams. See my Blackpool Tram Flickr gallery for a greater selection of photos taken during the visit.

NET 215 in the new silver and green band livery outbound along Waverley Street on a service for Hucknall

NET 208 in an all-over advert for Eon is about to leave the Old Market Square on a service for Phoenix Park

NET 204 passing The Arboretum public park on Waverley Street, on an inbound service for Station Street

NET 211 has just left The Forest tram stop in Hyson Green on an outbound service for Hucknall

NET 212 on Radford Road on an inbound service for Station Street, departing the Hyson Green Market tram stop

NET 204 at the terminus of the single track Phoenix Park branch, which serves the adjacent park-and-ride car park

Monday 6 May 2013

May Day Bank Holiday Workings

A, B & C fleet trams lined up at North Pier on 6th May, from the left are Boat 600, Flexity 006 and Balloon 719
Former snowplough equipped Balloon 701 made the first heritage run of the day to Fleetwood Ferry on 6th May and was also joined on the Heritage Tours by Brush car 631. The specials were handled by Balloons 709 and 724 in the morning, with 724 being swapped for 719 during the afternoon. Further tram swaps during the afternoon saw 701 returning to the depot to be replaced in heritage service by Boat car 600, and 719 which was replaced by Boat 230 in order that it could be used for the final round trip to Fleetwood Ferry, duplicating Brush car 631 which was running ahead of it.

701 which made the first Heritage Tour run of the day to Fleetwood, at the unloading tram stop in Bold Street
Balloon 724 on a special working to the Cabin, about to return south using the crossover
631 on a Cleveleys working, waiting to use the crossover while Balloon 709 passes by on its way back from Fleetwood
Balloon 719 on its last run to North Pier before running back in service to Manchester Square and then in to the depot
Boat car 600 with a full load at Foxhall Square, running shuttles between North Pier and the Pleasure Beach
Brush 631 rounding the curve from North Albert Street into Lord Street on the last Heritage Tour run of the day
Boat 230 rounding the curve from North Albert Street into Lord Street, shadowing 631 on the final Heritage Tour run
Brush 631 on the tramroad reservation, heading past Rossall Farm on the last run of the day back to Blackpool

Sunday 5 May 2013

May Day Weekend Sunday Output

Boat 230 leaving the Pleasure Beach heading for Bispham, on its second  run of the day on the Heritage Tour

Sunday 5th May started out dull and drizzly, so what better tram to chose to send to Fleetwood on the Heritage Tour than open Boat 230! At North Pier the tram soon filled up despite the potentially daunting conditions, 230 then opened the days proceedings with a trip to Fleetwood Ferry and back. Fortunately by the time that 230 made its second Heritage Tour run, this time a round trip to Bispham, the weather was a lot more more suitable for open boating. Balloon 701, which saw use as the snowplough earlier this year, was the second heritage tram of the day, and remained in all day service until the early evening.

Balloon 718 at the Pleasure Beach at 12:40 awaiting its call to duty on specials

The output of specials on Sunday consisted of three Balloons, flat fronted Balloon 707 on all day specials, similar Balloon 718 on morning specials, and 713 which came out as the afternoon changeover for 718, which returned to Rigby Road depot early in the afternoon. Balloon 707 performed the early afternoon run to Fleetwood Ferry from the Pleasure Beach.

Balloon 707 departing from Pharos Street in Fleetwood at 15:00 on its return trip to the Pleasure Beach

Balloon 713, on a special to North Pier, performing a wrong line running manoeuvre in order to reach the crossover

As a result of the positioning of the loading platforms and points on the new light rail system in Blackpool, trams which run as a short working to North Pier have to travel past North Pier to the northbound platform just short of the Metropole Hotel. The tram then has to reverse and run wrong road southbound along the northbound line, until the crossover which is south of North Pier is reached.

Boat 600 passing the Lucky Star amusement arcade as it approaches the Pleasure Beach

An unexpected substitution took place during the afternoon when Boat 230, which had returned to Rigby Road depot, was replaced on the Heritage Tour service by prototype Boat 600 for the remainder of the afternoon.

Balloon 701 exiting Pharos Street at 18:25 on the last Heritage Tour run of the day through to Fleetwood