Saturday 31 December 2016

Farewell to the Routemaster

Routemasters and other vehicles preparing to enter service at the Catch22Bus depot on 31st December
Saturday 31st December was the final day that non DDA compliant buses were allowed to be used on stage carriage services. To commemorate this historic and sad occasion, Catch22Bus operated a fully step entrance heritage bus service on their Coastliner 21 route, that runs between between Cleveleys and St Annes. The vehicles rostered for use on the day were former London Routemasters RML887 and RM1583 (recently repainted out of its Blackpool livery into London red), ex Blackpool PD3 516 and ex Ribble Bristol VR 1997. During the morning the Lancastrian Transport Trust ran their former Ribble Atlantean 1805 as an extra on the route, providing free trips for passengers. After a crew break PD3 516 was swapped for former Blackpool PD3 529, to add even more variety to the service. As all these buses will now no longer be permitted to run in passenger service, in future they will be limited to private hires and other occasional outings.

RM1583 parked in St Annes waiting to commence service on the Coastliner 21 to Cleveleys
RM1583 in St Annes, with former Ribble Atlantean 1805 running as an extra on service 21X
Former Blackpool Leyland PD3 516 near the Pleasure Beach on its way to St Annes
Ex Blackpool PD3 516 picking up passengers in Blackpool on its run south to St Annes
RML887 passing South Pier on its way north towards Cleveleys
Leyland PD3 529 and Bristol VR 1997 pausing at a stop in Blackpool with BTS Trident 368 heading north
RM1583 near North Pier in Blackpool heading towards Cleveleys
Former Blackpool PD3 529 heading south through Talbot Square in Blackpool
Former Ribble Bristol VR 1997 turning round in Cleveleys to head back south again to St Annes
RM1583 arriving at Cleveleys after its run from St Annes
Ex Blackpool PD3 529 laying over at the southern terminus of service 21 in St Annes
RML887 in Cleveleys at the start of its run south along the Fylde Coast to St Annes

Saturday 17 December 2016

New Optare Versa for Catch22Bus

Optare Versa YJ61JHH turning out of Alexandra Road in Thornton on the way to Poulton
The first Optare Versa, of a recently acquired batch of three, entered passenger service with Catch22Bus Ltd this morning. YJ61JHH is one of three Versas that had previously been on a five year lease to APH (Airport Parking & Hotels), the vehicle made its debut on service 24 between Cleveleys and Poulton.

Poulton bound Optare Versa YJ61JHH on Rough Lea Road in Cleveleys

RM special to Manchester Markets

RML887 on Rough Lea Road in Cleveleys, on its way to pick up passengers in Blackpool
With the days of step entrance buses in passenger service drawing to a close, Catch22Bus Ltd used one of their Routemasters on a special excursion to Manchester on 17th December. RML887 operated a shoppers special to the Manchester Christmas Markets, departing from Cleveleys Bus Station at 10:15 before picking up in Blackpool at 10:30. The service gave passengers the opportunity to spend a day Christmas shopping in Manchester, before returning to the Fylde Coast early on Saturday evening.

Thursday 15 December 2016

More Single Line Working in Blackpool

Southbound Flexity 016 wrong line running past the track welding work alongside the Metropole Hotel
Further to the line closure that took place ten days previously, the southbound tram track between the Cabin and North Pier was closed again on December 15th from 10:00 until 15:00. Single line working was again in operation for the duration of the closure, using the northbound track only. Passengers wishing to travel south from the Cliffs, Gynn Square, Wilton Parade or Pleasant Street had to board the Flexity trams using the northbound platforms. The cause of the service disruption was further rail welding adjacent to the Metropole Hotel, at the same location as the work that had been undertaken on 5th December.

The first wrong line working of the day, Flexity 015 regaining the southbound track at North Pier
Flexity 006 crossing back onto the southbound line at North Pier, passing northbound 015
Southbound Flexity 006 at North Pier, with 015 waiting to travel north over the single line section

Sunday 11 December 2016

Balloon 703 appeal target achieved in one day

Balloon 703 seen at Central Pier in a classic view dating from September 2005
The enormous success of the first crowdfunding initiative for a Blackpool tram in exceeding the £1,500 target, for transporting Balloon 703 home from Beamish, in less than 24 hours is to be applauded. Due to future development plans at Beamish, Brush Car 621 and Balloon 703 no longer fitted in with the long term aims of the museum, and it was agreed to release both trams from their collection. Thanks to the rapid response to the appeal, it will now be possible to fund the transport of 703 back to Blackpool, and hopefully in the not too distant future the tram can be made available for use in the active heritage fleet.

Balloon 703 masquerading as Sunderland 101 at Beamish in November 2012

Thursday 8 December 2016

Brush Car 621 joins the Heritage Fleet

Brush Car 621 back on Blackpool rails again, 5 years after it left the resort for Kirkham Prison
On the evening of 8th December Brush Car 621 returned to Blackpool after being away from the resort for 5 years. 621 has spent the last two years in storage at Beamish, where there had been plans to restore it for use on their museum tramway, prior to that the tram had been stored at Kirkham Prison for three years as part of the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust collection. Due to a change of priorities in the transport collection at Beamish, it was decided that Brush Car 621 could be released for return to Blackpool where it would become part of the Heritage Tram Tour fleet. The Brush Car was transported to Blackpool by Scotts Heavy Haulage, where is was unloaded and shunted into the safety of the tram depot by Unimog 939.

Scotts Heavy Haulage turning the corner from Rigby Road into Blundell Street
Scotts transporter after manoeuvring into the unloading position
Brush Car 621 halfway down the rail ramp during the unloading procedure
621 being shunted around the curve from Blundell Street into Hopton Road by Unimog 939
Brush Car 621 tucked up inside Rigby Road tram depot with the rest of the heritage fleet
Brush Car 621 seen passing the old tram station at Rossall School in October 2002

Monday 5 December 2016

Wrong line running on the Tramway

Flexity 003 waiting at the Cabin to head north over the crossover onto the northbound line

On Monday 5th December the southbound tram track between the Cabin and North Pier was closed for four hours due to planned track work taking place. Between 09:00 and 13:00 single line working was in operation over the closed section of the tramway using the northbound line only. This meant that passengers wishing to travel south from Cliffs, Gynn Square, Wilton Parade or Pleasant Street had to board the trams using the northbound platforms. The track work that caused this disruption was a repair to the surface of the rail on the southbound line at the curve adjacent to the northern end of the Metropole Hotel. The single line working played havoc with the timetable, with northbound trams noted heading for Little Bispham and Thornton Gate in order to try and recover the service.

A customer information notice on the southbound shelter at the Gynn tram stop
Flexity 001 heading south along the northbound line at the Cliffs Hotel
Flexity 003 crossing over to the northbound line at the Cabin, before heading south
Flexity 001 wrong line working at the Gynn heading towards Starr Gate
Flexity 007 heading south at the Metropole Hotel, passing the track work on the southbound line
Flexity 006 returning to the southbound line using the crossover at North Pier