Wednesday 30 October 2013

Harrogate Volvo on the Red Rocket

Ex Transdev Harrogate 611 on the longest Park & Ride service in the NW, the X70 from Blackpool to Manchester!

Classic Bus North West recently took delivery of two former Transdev Harrogate and District Volvo B6BLEs with Wright Crusader bodywork, 601 (W601 CWX) and 611 (W611 CWX). Volvo 611 was noted operating the 10:30 Red Rocket express service from Blackpool Central Coach Station to Manchester on Wednesday 30th October.

Ex Transdev Harrogate Volvo 611 with a queue of passengers waiting to board the X70 express service to Manchester

Sunday 27 October 2013

Fat Balloon Weekend

700 & 719 parked alongside each other on the Pleasure Beach loop, mid-afternoon on Sunday 27th October

Saturday & Sunday, 26th & 27th October, saw widened Balloons 700 and 719 in use as specials on both days, to supplement the normal Flexity car service at the start of the traditionally busy half-term school holidays. The trams mainly shuttled backwards and forwards between the Pleasure Beach and Little Bispham, with the occasional short working to intermediate destinations also. 
Little Bispham seemed to be rather a strange northern destination for the specials as very few day trippers wish to travel this far, using North Pier or Cabin as the turnaround point would have provided a more intensive service over the busiest section of the tramway. It's as if 700 and 719 were still in "Heritage Tour" mode, rather than purely operating as specials to shift the crowds on the prom. The trams were both well patronised over the weekend, with many passengers keen to sample the rare opportunity of a top deck tram ride in Blackpool. For more photos of the widened Balloons in use during the weekend see Blackpooltrams on Flickr.  

Balloon 700 departs south from Bispham tram station, with 719 visible in the distance taking its crew break

Balloon 719 heads off north towards Little Bispham after picking up passengers at North Pier

Balloon 719 stops to unload passengers at the Pleasure Beach before turning onto the loop

Balloon 700 has just pulled up on the Pleasure Beach loop while Flexity 004 continues on south in the background
Balloon 719 taking its mid-shift crew break on the centre track at Bispham is passed by Flexity 008 heading south

Balloon 700 loads up at the Pleasure Beach while Flexity 011 arrives on the core service heading for Starr Gate

Balloon 719 and Flexity 002 sat together at the Pleasure Beach, both ready to depart on short workings to the Tower

Friday 25 October 2013

Olympian on the Red Rocket

CBNW Volvo Olympian P269 PSX departing Central Coach Station in Blackpool on the X70 at 13:30 on 25th October
Classic Bus North West Volvo Olympian P269 PSX was noted standing in for one of the usual Mercedes-Benz Citaro bendy buses on the 13:30 Red Rocket departure from Blackpool Central Coach Station to Manchester on Friday 25th October.

Volvo Olympian P269 PSX heading along Seasiders Way ready for the 13:30 Red Rocket departure to Manchester

Mercedes-Benz Citaro MAL41 heading down Seasiders Way on the 13:30 Red Rocket to Manchester on 15th October

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Balloon 700 on Driver Training

Balloon 700 on a driver familiarisation run near Central Pier on 15th October.
Balloon 700 was noted heading south at Central Pier on driver training duties on the afternoon of 15th October. Presumably BTS intend to make some use the fat Balloons during the half term week towards the end of the Illuminations.

Thursday 10 October 2013

Red Rocket Route Branding

Mercedes-Benz Citaro BL52 ODK departing from Blackpool Central Coach Station, displaying the new route branding

The Classic Bus North West "Red Rocket" express bus service from Blackpool to Manchester is beginning to have route branding applied to the Mercedes-Benz Citaro vehicles that are operating the route. MAL49 (BD52LNF) and MAL53 (BL52ODK) have been noted with stickers on the front and nearside destination screens that read "Red Rocket" on the top line, with "Manchester > Blackpool Express" displayed on the lower line, also the route number "X70" is stuck over the right hand side of the front destination box. MAL53 (BL52ODK) has also had white letters displaying the words "red rocket" applied beneath the windscreen. The buses that were observed today at Blackpool Central Coach Station no longer seem to be having any problems turning in the restricted area available.

Mercedes-Benz Citaro MAL49 at Central Coach Station, with destination stickers but no route branding on the front
Citaro MAL49 making the turn at the end of the Central Coach Station in one sweep without any problems

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Tigerrific Tram

Brush car 622 part way through its repaint at Brinwell Road, with the masking tape for the stripes visible on the roof
Brush car 622 is being repainted back into a representation of the Tigerrific advert scheme that it carried in the 1970s & 80s. The tram will not be carrying passengers any more though, the plan is for 622 to be used as a static classroom within the grounds of Anchorsholme Primary School in Cleveleys. 622 is seen part way through its repaint at the Lancastrian Transport Trust's depot at Marton in Blackpool on Monday 7th October.

622 in its previous advert livery on 20th August 2006, running out of service down Lytham Road to the depot

Monday 7 October 2013

Standard 143 returns to Rigby Road

143 manoeuvring out of the LTT depot on the back of Scotts low loader, before making the short journey to Blundell St

Further to the move of Railcoach 279 on the morning of 7th October, Scotts Heavy Haulage returned to the Lancastrian Transport Trust depot at Marton in the afternoon to collect Standard 143 for the short journey back to Rigby Road depot.

Scotts Heavy Haulage approaching the depot along Lytham road with Standard 143 onboard

Scotts Heavy Haulage with Standard 143 onboard manoeuvring from Hopton Road into Blundell Street

Scotts Heavy Haulage arriving in Blundell Street with Standard 143 on the low loader

Unimog 939 pulling Standard 143 off the low loader trailer of Scotts Heavy Haulage in Blundell Street

Unimog 939 pulling Standard 143 off the low loader trailer of Scotts Heavy Haulage in Blundell Street

Unimog 939 hooked up and ready to pull Standard 143 along Blundell Street and into the depot

Railcoach 279 on the move

279 emerging from the LTT depot on the back of Scotts low loader, before making the short journey to Blundell Street
Monday 7th October saw another Lancastrian Transport Trust tram return home to Blackpool rails. English Electric Railcoach 279 (679) made the short journey from the LTT's Brinwell Road depot in Marton back to Rigby Road depot, the move being undertaken by Scotts Heavy Haulage.

Scotts Heavy Haulage arriving in Blundell Street with Railcoach 279 on the low loader
Unimog 939 pulling Railcoach 279 off the low loader trailer of Scotts Heavy Haulage in Blundell Street
Unimog 939 pulling Railcoach 279 off the low loader trailer of Scotts Heavy Haulage in Blundell Street
Railcoach 279 being pulled from Blundell Street into Hopton Road by Unimog 939
Railcoach 279 being pushed into Rigby Road depot by the Unimog

Sunday 6 October 2013

Prototype Deltic in Preston

Prototype Deltic DP1 on display at the Ribble Steam Railway in Preston on 6th October
The English Electric prototype Deltic DP1 was parked on outside display during the diesel gala on the Ribble Steam Railway at Preston over the weekend of 5th/6th October. The prototype diesel-electric locomotive is part of the National Collection, and has previously been on display at the Science Museum in London, the National Railway Museum at York and the NRM Locomotion at Shildon, before being loaned to the Ribble Steam Railway as part of the 2012 Preston Guild celebrations. The locomotive is now residing less than two miles away from the former English Electric factory at Strand Road in Preston where it was constructed in 1955.

The English Electric maker's plate displayed on the side of the No 1 end cab of prototype Deltic DP1
Prototype Deltic DP1 on display at the Ribble Steam Railway, with a diesel railbus about to depart from the platform

The driving position in the No 2 end cab of English Electric Deltic prototype DP1

2013 Wirral Bus & Tram Show

Making an unexpected appearance, due to the failure of open-top car No 20, was Hong Kong 69 in Birkenhead livery
Sunday 6th October saw the annual Wirral Bus & Tram Show being held at the Birkenhead Heritage Tramway close to Woodside Ferry. One of the trams that was intended to be used was Birkenhead Milnes open-top car No 20, however due to a compressor failure this tram was unable to be used on the day. The replacement tram for Birkenhead 20 was Hong Kong car No 69, which is painted in a blue and cream representation of the Birkenhead Corporation Tramways livery, this tram rarely gets used at this event so it was a pleasant change to see it out. Here are a selection of photographs of the trams that were operating on the day, plus some of the preserved buses that were on display or giving demonstration rides.

Liverpool Corporation Tramways No 762 passing through the historic dock gates at the end of Shore Road

Lisbon tram No 730 approaching the terminus of the tramway at Woodside Ferry

Wallasey Corporation Leyland Atlantean No 1 and Bellamy roofed tram No 78 meet at Woodside Ferry in Birkenhead

Hong Kong 69 passes 1968 Preston Leyland Panther No 204 with an MCW body at the passing loop on the tramway

1967 Birkenhead Leyland Titan PD2 No 152, with a Massey body, returns from one of the bus demonstration trips

Manchester 3520, a 1958 Leyland Titan PD2/34 with Burlingham body, on show in the bus display area

Crosville Bristol Lodekka DFG38 returning from one of the local bus tours that are part of the event

Friday 4 October 2013

The Red Rocket Launched

Mercedes-Benz Citaro MAL49 approaching Central Coach Station along Seasiders Way on the first day of operation
Friday 4th October saw the first day of operation of Classic Bus North West's "Red Rocket" express bus service from Blackpool to the centre of Manchester. Three former Go-Ahead London Mercedes- Benz Citaro articulated buses have been acquired to operate this route, MAL41 (BD52LNU), MAL49 (BD52LNF) and MAL53 (BL52ODK). The service originates from the Central Coach Station in Blackpool, with four journeys a day calling at the Trafford Centre and the others running directly to the centre of Manchester. The lack of turning space at Central Coach Station seemed to be causing problems for the long articulated buses, with at least one of them having to make a three-point turn due to the restricted space. See for information on the service.
The length of Citaro MAL49 necessitated a three-point turn due to the lack of turning space at Central Coach Station
Mercedes-Benz Citaro MAL49 on its stand at Central Coach Station, with the Tower vanishing in the mist behind

Mercedes-Benz Citaro MAL49 approaching Central Coach Station on the first day of operation of the Red Rocket

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Model Trams in Southport

Kinver Light Railway No 6 passes a double-deck tram in this canalside scene on the Ellenbrook 4mm tramway layout

Southport Model Railway Society held their annual exhibition over the weekend of 28th and 29th September, and while the layouts on display were mostly railways, a couple featured 4mm scale working tramways. The Ellenbrook 4mm model tramway came from Liverpool, and was a freelance layout featuring trams from various systems. The other layout that featured a model tramway was the impressive 4mm EM gauge layout of Liverpool Lime Street Station and its approaches, the layout measuring 44 feet in length. The Lime Street Station layout featured a working tramway running along Lime Street in front of the station. This layout appears to be a work in progress, as the scenery has not yet been completed along Lime Street and at present there is no tramway overhead.

A canal's eye view of the 4mm Ellenbrook model tramway layout at the Southport Model Railway Exhibition

Kinver Light Railway single-deck car No 6 crosses a bridge by the watermill on the Ellenbrook 4mm tramway

An Ilkeston Corporation Tramways open-topper and a works tram sit outside the depot on the Ellenbrook tramway

A Green Goddess tram picks up passengers at the corner of Skelhorne Street on the 4mm Lime Street Station layout

A Green Goddess tram pauses at the corner of Lime Street and Skelhorne Street on the 4mm EM gauge station layout

The visitor stood in the background gives some impression of the huge size of the amazing Lime Street Station layout