Blackpool Transport’s bus and tram services are set to endure major disruption during May, when part of the promenade is closed off for a high-profile filming session. Unfortunately, regular users of the tramway are set to suffer with the unpopular split service enforced during various events such as the annual illuminations switch-on ceremony set to make a very unwelcome return during the filming.
After a bumper weekend over the May Day Bank Holiday with an intensive heritage tram service set to operate, the following day will see the start of a period of considerable disruption. Scenes for a new film are due to be shot in Blackpool, which will reportedly involve an elaborate stunt using the Blackpool Tower. So that this can proceed unhindered, parts of the promenade will be closed off to pedestrians, road vehicles and trams between the Central and North Piers, from 0930 on Tuesday 5th May right through until 0800 on Saturday 9th May.
For the trams, the first two departures from Starr Gate at 0500 and 0530 will still run through to Fleetwood on all days. On the 6th, 7th and 8th May, no trams will be able to pass the filming site between the hours of 0600 and 1500 approximately, and so some will operate a limited service between Starr Gate and Manchester Square. Further trams will maintain a service from North Pier to Fleetwood Ferry, and this will presumably entail several trams being stabled at North Pier or somewhere further north for the duration, all of which will presumably be required to leave the depot in the early hours of the morning. This is therefore expected to be one of the longest periods of operation for the split service, which is normally enforced when events are held at the Tower Festival Headland. The buses will also be affected with a number of route diversions in place for the same time period.
In the past, it has been bad enough that tram passengers have had to walk past the closed section of tramway in order to continue their journeys – but this time will be much worse as they will have to traverse the back streets of Blackpool, with the promenade totally closed off in front of the Tower. As if this was not bad enough, the possibility has also been raised that a further closure of the promenade may be required the following week; the most likely reason being if the weather does not allow filming of the required scenes to be completed within the original set timescale. In this event, Blackpool Transport are advising customers that a second closure may occur between 0930 on Monday 11th May and 0800 on Saturday 16th May – with updates to be provided once it is known whether this will be deemed necessary.
Whilst the film will certainly put Blackpool in the limelight and should bring a big injection of cash to the resort, the disruption it will cause to local residents is unsurprisingly causing plenty of raised eyebrows and it remains to be seen how the town’s transport services will cope under such challenging circumstances.