The annual Totally Transport festival took place on Blackpools’ New South Promenade on Sunday 24th June, and for the first time since 2009 a full tram service ran through the event. Blackpool Transport’s heritage tram tours received a welcome boost thanks to the extra transport enthusiasts no doubt encouraged to visit the town, and were greeted by all three illuminated feature cars in use across the weekend.
On Saturday 23rd June the heritage tours were worked by the green and cream pairing of Standard 147 – fresh from its pre-Olympic duties the previous day – and Balloon 717. However, 147 suffered a damaged lifeguard and was later replaced by the illuminated Trawler 737. The Totally Transport event itself saw the Western Train 733+734 and Frigate 736 in use, although once again an unplanned changeover took place during the day. Due to problems with 733‘s trolley, the Train ran in early and was replaced by ‘Princess Alice’ 706 which proved to be a very popular choice of replacement despite changeable weather. However, it was pleasing to see the Western Train running as it had previously only appeared on the new tours on Bank Holiday weekends, presumably due to the need for a crew of three. Hopefully day trippers appreciated this welcome appearance and managed to sample a ride before it returned to the depot!
Unfortunately, another tram website has criticised BTS for not supporting Totally Transport more, by extending the heritage tram service to Starr Gate on this day. Whilst this would have undoubtedly added greatly to the event, the logistics of changing the normal operating pattern for just one day are probably being underestimated. There are no provisions for loading and unloading vintage trams south of Pleasure Beach and they are not compatable with the loading platforms at ‘normal’ stops. Extending the tours would probably also have needed an extra tram, and therefore an extra crew which may not have been possible. Totally Transport is largely organised by the Lancastrian Transport Trust, but unlike previous years, none of their trams are currently available for service and so could not appear at this year’s event. The LTT are currently providing buses for a new promenade service which is directly competing with the tramway. This has probably ended any hope of increased co-operation between BTS and the LTT, and makes the chances of LTT-owned trams running for future events seem less than ever, although many enthusiasts remain ever hopeful that this situation will change.
Not long ago it was feared that a pop concert at the Tower Festival Headland could have lead to the complete cancellation of the heritage service on June 24th, so BTS surely deserve praise rather than criticism for letting the show go on?