Friday 18 April 2014

The Crab comes to the rescue of 706

The battery operated Crab recovering Princess Alice into Starr Gate depot, notice the missing trolley head on 706
The first day of the Easter weekend Heritage Tour operations in Blackpool saw open-top Balloon 706 "Princess Alice" lose its trolley head in spectacular fashion close to Starr Gate on Friday 18th April. 706 was returning to the depot at 15:00 in the afternoon, when the trolley pole dewired at the facing points on the approach to Starr Gate depot. This isn't the first time that 706 has dewired here, it happened previously during a ferry move on 7th February. This time instead of 706 stopping, it carried on past two overhead poles with the trolley pole bouncing off the cross arms until it snagged on the overhead at the next set of points, ripping the trolley head clean off the pole, the head and trolley wheel ending up on the ground behind the tram.

The problem now was how to move 706 out of the way, as it was blocking the southbound running line to the Starr Gate terminus. The solution was to use the battery operated "Crab 1500 E" depot shunter, which was driven out of the depot and hooked up to the rear of 706. In the meantime quite a queue of trams had built up behind the stranded Princess Alice, including Flexities 007, 003 and Balloon 700 all sat waiting for the line to clear. The Crab towed 706 across the nearby points and onto the northbound line, permitting the backlog of trams to continue southbound. The little Crab then proceeded to propel the stricken 706 into the depot compound through the entrance gate at the northern end of the depot confines, the whole operation to clear both running lines taking just 30 minutes. Unfortunately this incident meant that 706 could no longer be used on tours for the remainder of the heritage weekend operations.

After 706's trolley pole dewired, it bounced off two traction pole cross-arms before snagging on the overhead wiring
706 spectacularly losing its trolley head in a shower of sparks as it got ripped off when snagging an overhead junction
The battery operated Crab towing 706 towards a set of points in order to cross over onto the northbound track
The battery operated Crab shunter towing 706 off the southbound running line, with Flexities 007 & 003 sat waiting

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