Blackpool Tramway - Last Weekend

Discussion in 'Other Public Transport' started by bluegoblin7, 4 Nov 2011.

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  1. bluegoblin7

    bluegoblin7 Member

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    Hi everyone,

    Just a reminder that it's the last weekend of the traditional trams in Blackpool this weekend, before the system shuts down for a winter closure and re-opens at Easter next year with the new Flexity 2 Supertrams.

    Many trams - even those that have been operating this season - have already been withdrawn, with Brush 630 and Centenaries 641/3 all having run their final journeys in Blackpool, it seems. Standard 147 is also currently out of service, but should be running again next season.

    Available trams for the weekend are:
    Boat: 600
    Brush: 631/2
    Centenary: 642/644/5/6/7/8
    Twin Sets: 672+682/675+685
    Balloon: 700/707/709/711/713/715/717/718/719/720/723/724
    Illuminated: 733+734/736/737
    Jubilee: 761/762

    Of these, all but 600/700/707/709/713/717/718/720/724 and the Illuminated cars will be withdrawn ahead of next year, though 711 & 719 should return following an overhaul and gaining the widened doors.

    No Brush/Centenary/Twin/Jubilee cars will be retained.

    Service wise, both days are expected to see a single deck daytime and double deck evening service, with 8 trams for the former and 5 for the latter.

    In addition, two enthusiast tram tours are operating on each day:
    *Tramways Monthly 'Tribute to the Thirties' - Balloon 717 & Boat 600 (Or Brush 631 in bad weather) - Saturday 11AM off Pleasure Beach
    *Lancastrian Transport Trust - Balloon 715 & Standard 147 (But probably Brush 632 due to 147 being out of service) - Saturday 2.30PM off North Pier
    *Tramways Monthly 'Twin Car Twilight' - Twin Set 672+682 - Sunday 11AM off Pleasure Beach
    *Fylde Tramway Society - Brush 632, Balloon 715 & Twin Set 675+685 - Sunday 2.30PM off North Pier

    Obviously, particularly on Saturday this will severely dig into the service car allocation, so expect to potentially see both 737 & 736 (the Illuminated Trawler and Frigate) operating on probably Little Bispham service - though a top deck closed Balloon could also be an option! Evening service will be made up of any combination of the trams, though it is hoped that 711, 719, 723, 761 & 762 will be used due to their disappearance from the tramway imminently.

    To the best of my knowledge, space is still available on all of the tram tours for 'walk-ups' on the day.

    Hope this is of help.

    Jack
     
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  3. BestWestern

    BestWestern Established Member

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    A very, very sad time. Farewell to a true transport gem, hello bland euro-trash conformity. How totally unacceptable it has become these days to be noteworthy or unique :cry:

    Coming soon, "Blackpool demolishes historic tower in favour of 'upgraded' euro-approved version the same as all the others..." :roll:
     
  4. Daimler

    Daimler Established Member

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    So when the tramway re-opens next year, how regularly can we expect the 'heritage' trams to be used?

    Gosh, it's years since I travelled on the tramway... :(
     
  5. WatcherZero

    WatcherZero Established Member

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    20 days a year is the limit for non disabled compliant vehicles I believe.
     
  6. Ivo

    Ivo Established Member

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    So the loss of one of the few genuine attractions of Blackpool is upon us. I can only say that I feel fortunate to have had the chance to travel on the older units last summer (even if it was only a Centenary vehicle).

    Let us at least hope that nothing goes wrong - and that this whole upgrade had better be worth it.
     
  7. bluegoblin7

    bluegoblin7 Member

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    That'll be the limit from 2020 when the DDA (Or isn't it DEA now?) comes into full force. Until then, they can run as much or as little as Blackpool Transport determine.

    Of course, this is assuming they're still running in 2020. Or 2015. Or 2013... </cynic>
     
  8. WatcherZero

    WatcherZero Established Member

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    Indeed, those are the limits but it depends on what they choose to operate.
     
  9. HSTEd

    HSTEd Established Member

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    Does the Blackpool Tram even go anywhere useful these days or is it primarily a tourist attraction that will likely be damaged by the introduction of the new generic vehicles?

    Could atleast have purchased double decker trams.
     
  10. BestWestern

    BestWestern Established Member

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    My thoughts as well.

    The system essentially runs the length of Blackpool prom and then onwards to Fleetwood. Some local traffic occurs out towards Fleetwood but it is primarily a tourist network, indeed the highly seasonal nature of it is one of the reasons it struggles to turn a profit. Blackpool Tranny are pinning their (high) hopes on all the locals suddenly feeling the urge to use it every day now that there are some new trams. This is unlikely since the fares are high and nobody within B'pool really feels the need to pay a fortune to ride a few stops along the prom. There will of course be old biddies in their droves, especially as BT now allows all UK concessionary pass holders on board the trams, but then of couse they pay nothing. And since the local council has ownership interests in the company, any concessionary fares reimbursement is simply a paper money-moving exercise. No doubt the operation will clamour to count every single old dear who uses the trams and then push out some impressive sounding ridership figures, but we all know that there lies no profit in free passes.

    I don't feel overly confident that a profit, or even the break-even point, is going to be reached any time within the next few decades here. It's very sad to see such a wonderful piece of history being bulldozed, along with many of the skills which have been passed down through the organisation over the years. Rigby Road is currently able to strip down and rebuild an entire tramcar, as so ably demonstrated by the rebuilt Balloons which were completed in house. How long will those jobs and skills remain now I wonder? :|
     
  11. WatcherZero

    WatcherZero Established Member

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    Councils are being forced to take on a larger share of the bus passes financing with the national cuts but it was originally a central government funded scheme. Blackpools also standardising bus and tram fares to be the same. Do you think Government would have coughed up the money to refurb the entire network if they were not at least trying to make it break even?

    The Balloon fleet were failing on average once a day earlier in the season, I think at one point five even failed on the same day! which demonstrates succintly that their life is reaching the end.
     
  12. Ivo

    Ivo Established Member

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    Really? Since when? Remind me to head to Blackpool when it reopens.
     
  13. WestCoast

    WestCoast Established Member

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    Spring this year - all passes accepted for free travel between except between certain times. Check the website.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    All day passes/weekly passes are now valid for both bus and trams. Cheapest day ticket is £3.50, from PayPoint agents. It will attract traffic from locals on the 1 and 14 buses, but that's about it.
     
    Last edited: 6 Nov 2011
  14. newbie babs

    newbie babs Member

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    For me it`s sad to see something you went on most weekends growing up being withdrawn.

    As a child I went on them with my brothers on days out, when the lights were on it was up to Fleetwood, fish and chips and then back again.
    As a teenager it was weekends in summer, train to Blackpool on the tram and up to the Big dipper and the rides.
    As a mum I never lived near enough to take all my children on them, I managed only a couple of times as they were growing up.

    They were unique, beautiful, classic and a joy to be on, to see the workmanship and fantastic condition they were in.

    A part of my childhood I will never forget and smile fondly when I think of them in all their glory.
     
  15. RPM

    RPM Established Member

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    A sad day indeed. I have seen elqouent arguments both for and against what is being done at Blackpool. I remain undecided. In the mean time I elect to remember the tramway as a magnificent anachronism thusly:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/rpmarks/6289693673/
     
  16. Class172

    Class172 Established Member Quizmaster

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    It was only last Sunday that I went on the tramway, it is a shame they are being withdrawn. I went on twin-car 675+685 and I liked it very much. The tramway has two main attractions: the tourist aspect for it's heritage; the fact once you've walked the lights you can get the tram back. By introducing these new trams, it is going to lose most of its attraction as it becomes more 'metrofied'.
     
  17. MidnightFlyer

    MidnightFlyer Veteran Member

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    I personally never liked the tram because I saw it as too stuck in the past!
     
  18. Sheepy1209

    Sheepy1209 Member

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    I'm one of those people who happens to live near the tram service, and for me personally it can only be a good thing; I just have my doubts about how long it will last before the service is cut back and the shiny new trams get sent somewhere else.

    An earlier poster was right - there's significant patronage to and from Fleetwood, and it's been depressed these last few years by a neglected slow tram service and a hopelessly unreliable No 1 replacement bus service. The trams were always packed with pensioners on a Saturday even when they had to pay, so heaven knows what it'll be like next year! (We gave up using the tram as we're south of Cleveleys and they would just go past us without stopping because they were full).

    I'll certainly use them regularly, but there aren't many of me. Hardly anybody commutes to central Blackpool, most of the north-south traffic flows are either Fleetwood / Cleveleys to Lytham and St Annes, or to employment in various industrial estates, hospitals etc. The tram will speed my journey to St Annes but I'll still have to change to the bus at Starr Gate and I cycle when I can anyway.

    However - I'm not convinced that the majority of visitors are that bothered what the trams are like - they want a reliable, comfortable service like anybody else. There's plenty who want a ride on the old trams, but there's also a surprising number travelling between hotels and attractions. The quaintness soon wears thin when you rely on the old trams to get around.

    It's sad, in the same way that I miss 101s, loco haulage and compartments, but the old trams aren't up to scratch for providing a public service these days. I just wish we'd been able to have a stretch of separate track so we could see them running in Blackpool instead of being cast to the four winds.


    Besides, Blackpool's motto is 'Progress' and I think Walter Luff would have moved on from the Balloons long ago! If only we were getting modern double-deck trams.....
     
  19. BestWestern

    BestWestern Established Member

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    I think any suggestion of breaking even, if it were ever made, was very very tenuous. The money is far more likely to have been coughed up in the name of 'northern regeneration', going hand in hand with Blackpool's other upgrades to the seafront and town centre. Bear in mind this happened before the a*se really fell out of the economy, if Blackpool were to ask the same question tomorrow they'd be laughed out of the room.

    The whole concessionary pass scheme is nothing more than a doomed vote-winner, introduced by a greasy government hoping to bribe a particular demographic group into offering their electoral support. The way in which it was set up is cynical on a massive scale. It was never intended to pay for itself either from central government or local authority coffers, the idea from the very start was that the big bad private bus companies would end up being shafted with the financial burden of it all. This is why it was tellingly left up to each individual local authority to 'administrate' their own scheme, leading as it has to councils picking whatever reimbursement figure they like and telling the bus operators, who have no choice but to comply, to go whistle. A fair scheme would have been run to set national guidelines and properly funded. How many bus operators can you think of who are publicly satisfied with what they receive for carrying pass holders?

    As for the dear old Balloons, yes they are very old indeed! They couldn't have continued forever, we all know that however fond of them we may be. But I'm afraid I remain unconvinced that the wholesale 'starting again' of the system is the right way ahead. New trams could have been constructed at massively lower cost than the phenomenal amount that has been spent, but of course they would be lacking the vanity value of shiny new 'eurotram' system.
     
  20. WatcherZero

    WatcherZero Established Member

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    Even regeneration schemes have to demonstrate a positive BCR nowadays, Governments are obsessed with positive accounting, usually a minimum of 1.5 but often 2.5 is considered a lower requirement. Bus companies only pay around 20% of the cost of the scheme and they always complain over lost revenue, even over child fares. Its not free travel, the bus companies still get paid for each passenger journey to a appropiate level as if they were a normal passenger.
     
  21. BestWestern

    BestWestern Established Member

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    They get paid varying levels depending on what the local council wants to pay them! Look at recent developments in Cornwall, I believe, where the authorities decided they were going to slash the reimbursement level drastically and attempted to impose it, backdated no less, without any proper consultation. The MD of Western Greyhound had to intervene for the council to acknowledge that what they were doing was totally illegal, not to mention bang out of order. Hardly a reasonable system, the operators have every right to complain.

    Frankly, why should operators be paying for any of it? It's not their scheme, it was something introduced for political gain, why should they be sharing the bill? We have ever increasing fuel costs and now the government is looking to reduce the duty rebate. The powers that be are hardly going out of their way to support public transport providers, yet are happy to see their services full to the brim with people they have grandly handed down permission to travel around all day for free. If companies wish to be charitable that is their choice, but they should be free to chose what they give and to whom, it's not the right of the authorities to pass legislation forcing them to fund freebies whether they like it or not.
     
  22. kylemore

    kylemore Member

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    As an outsider albeit one who has enjoyed the odd visit to Blackpool I don't see what else could have been done.
    Surely something had to be done and I believe the new set-up is a credit to those involved when the alternative may well have been abandonment.
     
  23. BestWestern

    BestWestern Established Member

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    Well, I guess that's it then folks :( Let's raise a virtual glass to dear old Blackpool and it's former tramway, Britain's last 'proper' system and a national gem the like of which is now sadly gone forever. Many, many happy memories. A sad day indeed. Farewell :|
     
  24. Crimson_Quiff

    Crimson_Quiff Member

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    I was on the trams all week leading up to the final weekend. I thought it'd be appropriate to give them the farewell bash they deserved! Like the Class 101 DMUs before them, I have grew up with them and to see them go last night was a bit too much to be honest! Yes, I shed a tear and I am not ashamed to admit that. Not just for the trams but the tram crews and other enthusiasts I became acquainted with over the past season. So to say goodbye to both the trams and the good laughs I had with the friends I made was very sad indeed.

    My last moves were:
    672+682 Rigby Road/The Manchester - Pleasure Beach
    672+682 Pleasure Beach - Little Bispham
    720 Little Bispham - Rigby Road/The Manchester


    RIP Blackpool Trams :cry:
     
  25. BestWestern

    BestWestern Established Member

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    And there was me thinking you were unsentimental about all this in the face of a bright new future!

    I'm glad you made it and had those cherished last rides bud, wish I could have been there I really do. It was very strange when I did visit in July, to see trams but not hear the wonderful bogie rattle any more as they passed by. That really brought it home I think, that the character was gone and what I was seeing was the last bit of spirit, soon to die off altogether. I got the same feeling magnified many times over when I went to the let down that was 'Tram' Sunday, featuring one solitary, sad looking Balloon being paraded around Fleetwood on a low loader in the rain. The 'Goodbye Blackpool' sign the new owners had placed in the upstairs window said it all really.

    Shame, a real shame :|
     
  26. Crimson_Quiff

    Crimson_Quiff Member

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    :lol:

    I do welcome the new'uns, don't get me wrong. But it was still sad to see the old'uns go. As I say, what made it just as upsetting was saying goodbye to the tram crews and enthusiasts I made friends with over the past season :(
     
  27. BestWestern

    BestWestern Established Member

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    What's the situation with the previous crews? I presume the Drivers will remain and be trained on the new stuff? Are there to be regular Conductors are are they going down the crazy route of roving revenue squads?
     
  28. northernrail

    northernrail Member

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    The Flexitys will have a Conducter.
     
  29. Samtron2000

    Samtron2000 Member

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    The new trams will have dedicated drivers, not the cross trained bus driver situation that they have used in the past. Those current drivers who wish to continue driving the trams, have had to apply for the new posts.
     
  30. Cliveblackpool

    Cliveblackpool Member

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    More comfortable - The new Euro-trams have only 72 seats max and 149 standing!! :lol:
    What remains of what was a comprehensive network in Walter Luffs days is now just the seaside route, mainly used by tourists. In fact what is left could be regarded a a heritage railway. There is very little potential of commuter traffic in Winter. Empty hotels one side and the sea on the other. No OMO's so costs will increase. Possibility of closing the tramway in future Winters after losses during the first Winter.
    BTS has rushed to dispose of 50 trams leaving just 25 heritage trams including the Illumination specials. Now they have given notice to LTT to remove their trams from Rigby road by the end of November, or lose them.
    Rigby Road depot would be ideal for a National tram museum, and therefore preserving Blackpool's rich tram history, and enabling many more old trams excursions to be run on the Promenade.
    http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/news/daily-feature/wrong_side_of_tracks_1_3901207
     
  31. JoeGJ1984

    JoeGJ1984 Member

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    I've been to Blackpool once and had a quick ride on the trams, but I don't see the point of putting new trams on. IMO the tramway is like a heritage railway - nobody really uses heritage railways for 'serious' purposes, and likewise I doubt anyone would really use the Blackpool Tramway for serious purposes. All right, people do go on heritage railways to get to the other end of the line, but the train journey is the main attraction rather than what lies at the end of the line, and not the other way round.

    I thought that one could easily introduces buses for most 'serious' purposes that might otherwise involve the trams, and they would be cheaper as they are intended to get around, not for leisure travel. The trams, and heritage railways are intended for leisure travel, and I think the Blackpool Tramway is like a heritage railway in this respect. (Who uses heritage railways for 'serious' purposes?)

    Putting modern trams on the Blackpool Tramway seems to me like putting 150s on a heritage railway. Nobody's going to go to a heritage railway for a ride on a 150! (Except for special occasions like the SVR railcar reunion gala or the LM Farewell 150 tour).(They're plenty of 150s knocking around generally, even with London Midland offloading all of theirs).
     
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