Friday, 20 April 2012

The Newest Tram Depot in the World (Probably)

To Blackpool, where the well-known 125-yr old tramway system that runs along the promenade has been closed for the winter whilst the final stages of its transformation into a modern "light rapid transit" system have been completed. It re-opened at Easter, but yesterday was the first opportunity that I, together with occasional Starcross crew members Hugh and Mark, had had to pay a visit.
We started with a tram ride from the North Pier to the southern end of the line at Starr Gate, where a brand-new £20M depot has been built to house the new fleet.
This is almost certainly the newest tram depot in the world, but it's so well fenced-off that the best I could do photographically was to take a picture of a picture of the depot attached to the security fence! The large construction on the left is the drive-through tram-wash!
The original Blackpool tram depot (above) - which must be one of the oldest in the world - now houses the "heritage" fleet: Blackpool trams as most people know them date from the 1930s although they have been progressively  modernised over the years, losing many original features (and even original bodies) in the process. Now, a few of the old cars have been restored to something approaching original condition and will be used at times of peak demand to supplement the new fleet or to run a "heritage service". Note that whereas the new vehicles are "light rapid transit" the original fleet are definitely "tramcars"!

We had a great day riding the trams, which were very busy - particularly on the  promenade section of the route.
Standing room only - and not much of that.
Things went a bit awry at Fleetwood where our plan to cross over on the ferry to Knott End and catch the 86 to Lancaster were scuppered as low tide meant the service had ended an hour earlier! (Even professionals can mis-read timetables - or in this case, perhaps "tide-tables")  This meant a nail-biting ride on a bus to just outside Poulton-le-Fylde, where we had a spot connection (i.e. no leeeway) with the 42 to Lancaster instead. All was going well until just before the Carleton Crossing stop, where the connection was to be made, when the level crossing gates came down in front of us and we had to wait for a very slow train. The bus driver took pity on us at that point and let us alight between stops so that we didn't have to cross the road to make the connection, which we did with less than a minute to spare.
Really this just added to the fun and I'll be returning to Blackpool from time to time to keep an eye on how the new service is settling down.  I don't think I'll be the only one doing that!

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Wonderful stuff. Coincidentally, I saw a tram today - quite possibly my first ever.