A milestone event occured on Monday 25th June 2012, when Flexity 016 arrived in Blackpool and was unloaded at Starr Gate. This is of course the last of the new Flexity2 class to be delivered, thus completing the prolonged programme of deliveries which started late last summer when car 001 arrived in relative secrecy.
016‘s arrival had actually been somewhat later than anticipated, following rumours that it would reach Starr Gate on Saturday 23rd June. It was then expected the following day, but apparently due to the lack of an available police escort, it spent most of the day at a service station in Bolton before completing its long journey the next day. The unloading of the tram was uneventful and it was driven inside the new depot to be prepared for service. Very surprisingly, 016 arrived sporting all of its livery vinyls including fleet numbers, which will presumably speed up its entry into service. The record for shortest time between a Flexity2 arriving and carrying passengers is a mere seven days for 014 so it will be interesting to see if 016 manages to beat that!
One more delivery is still awaited though, as 002 remains in Germany having been returned under warranty to receive some modifications. No indication has been given as to when the car is likely to return but hopefully it will be back in time for the illuminations when the full fleet of high-capacity trams should prove extremely useful.
Other developments involving the new generation of Blackpool trams have seen 015 – the arrival of which passed by almost unnoticed earlier this month – being shunted at Starr Gate, although the tram has not yet been seen out in service. A fourth member of the class, 014, has also received advert vinyls in the now familiar layout on the roof sides and the lower panels of the central section. Once again the advertiser is Blackpool Pleasure Beach and this design features a striking image of the ‘Big One’ rollercoaster, similar to that previously shown on one side of Balloon car 719. Meanwhile car 001 has been unavailable for around two months now whilst being assessed to determine the effects of use on the new trams, and has been used to donate parts to keep its sisters on the road.