Balloon versus Taxi

The number of accidents involving trams and motor cars in Blackpool seems to have escalated recently, with at least three such incidents in May alone. The latest mishap occurred on Saturday 28th May, involving a member of the heritage fleet – Balloon 715.

As mentioned previously on this website, the Metropole hotel has become a hot spot for near-misses between trams and cars as here road traffic must cross the tramway to access the car park itself. Only a few weeks after a taxi drove into the path of an oncoming Flexity tram, history repeated itself with another taxi colliding with 715. Thankfully no serious damage was done to the 1990s liveried Balloon car, which appears to have sustained some lifeguard damage and some slightly grazed paintwork. However, the tram service was seriously disrupted whilst the various necessary checks were made and the accident was documented.

The regularity with which cars are running into trams is becoming a real cause for concern, indeed anyone would think that Blackpool motorists hadn’t had 131 years to get used to the trams! Other than completely blocking access to the tracks by other vehicles, there is probably not much that can be done to solve the problem but it is certainly hoped that the recent spate of accidents is just a fluke and will not continue over the remainder of the season.

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13 Responses to Balloon versus Taxi

  1. Chris says:

    Increasingly a problem and would not sure it can any longer be simply attributed to bad luck. Deteriorating standard of motorist and alarmingly kamikaze pedestrian culture. Various near misses and idiots stepping out in front of Trams, Buses, Cars. Radical solutions are needed. Its simply not fair on the crews to expect them to navigate the promenade in its current state ( and that is without even thinking about the crossings in the Northern Section). Something needs to be done. Implementation of crossing barriers or track differentiation devices to reduce number of people wandering out in front / traffic signal cameras to least offer deterrent to every motorist who chances it at lights even those who narrowly avoid hitting tram / physical barriers at certain crossings seem inevitable.

    Hope Council are actively looking at implementing various schemes to reduce number. Its simply not fair on crews or indeed the folk using system to stand by and do nothing.

    • Charlie says:

      It can also cause people stress and may not make them drive again. And I think your right, youre an idiot if you go in front of a tram, which surely must be signposted?

    • Chris says:

      Absolutely Charlie. The prospect of high speed collisions through signal controlled junctions and navigating the nightmare that currently is the promenade sections must be putting enormous mental pressure on all crews. Indeed the current rate will be put pressure on all aspects of operation. From Fitters to the poor folk manning the phones no doubt getting earful off folk when tramway is suspended during these increasingly frequent disruptions.

      Sign posts really cant be clearer but are things they can and should now look to do to further mitigate against future incursions/incidents. Hope their talking to the crews. Gathering feedback. Looking at best practise. Looking at ways road layout could change or be improved. (Metropole id look at limiting access via car to only one direction for example)

  2. Kev says:

    The Metropole should be limited to left turn only. Both in and out. Or is there not a connection from the loading bay at the other side (ie drive round the seaward side)?
    I saw two near misses at Cleveleys recently also with people parking in the box junction – we need to be tougher on these people if they cause accidents.
    Perhaps the insurance claim should include claims from the people delayed!!

    • howie b says:

      Kev,I totally concur with your sentiments, but I fear what you are proposing could push everyone’s premiums up, even those of us living nowhere near a tramway. Most motorists with fully comp can claim for legal costs already so a tramway operator or passenger pursuing a civil claim against the motorist isn’t a deterrent. A massive fine, points and a ban imposed by a criminal court, well that’s a different story – there’s no way you’d get that back off your insurance. That way only the errant motorist pays with a hefty increase in his/her premiums on renewal.

  3. Ken Walker says:

    Too many people these days think that their personal safety is the responsibility of everybody except themselves.

  4. Michael says:

    At least two of the recent collisions at the Metropole involved taxis so the excuse of unfamiliarity with Blackpool trams could hardly be said to apply here. Of all similar instances in Blackpool and elsewhere, the reasons for collisions given by drivers to the police never seem to get reported: it would be very interesting to hear what these are. In the case of taxi drivers, could the adage ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ be the case? A recent case in Blackpool actually involved a police vehicle, no less, getting stuck on the sleeper track. I wonder what the driver of that vehicle told his/her sergeant back at the police station.

  5. Mark Ellis says:

    Blackpool, like Manchester has had it’s fair share of Tram accidents involving Taxi’s and always in similar locations.Unfortunately Taxi drivers are always in a hurry and take risks to get to the next fare quicker.
    As a bus driver I see drivers taking risks all the time where public transport is concerned, a minority of private car drivers who don’t use public transport don’t like it and will not give way to buses or trams, even when the public transport has the right of way.

  6. Graham Sleath says:

    I was at the other end of Metropole when it happened and saw the aftermath. 715 came off worse with only a few scratches on the taxi. Can only hope the taxi driver is punished. Let’s not forget the near miss for Bolton 66 on the Sunday. What is is going to take before something is done? It is a real shame that such mindless idiots are out everywhere with no thought for anyone except themselves.

  7. franklyn says:

    That bit of track round the Metropole has always been a bit strange in that it’s not in the middle of the road like most street tramways are. It’s way over to the seaward side, which was always the issue. before the road markings were changed I seem to remember the Northbound track ran fairly near the kerb but the southbound encroached into the northbound traffic lane. The problem back then was that northbound traffic were never quite sure which side of an approaching southbound tram to pass. However if motorists just followed the simple ‘keep left’ rule everything was ok. This didn’t happen though and somewhere I have footage taken from the top deck of Princess Alice heading south. As she rounds the Metropole the approaching cars split alternately left and right!!!

    So then they changed the road markings, segregating the trams from the traffic with white lines in a similar style to how it is now. This is where the real problems started because northbound motorists now had to cross both tracks of the tramway, whereas before the southbound track was on their right and they actually drove up the northbound, keeping northbound trams either in front of behind. Under normal road conditions (ie NOT regarding trams) undertaking on the left if forbidden. So it’s a very alien concept to motorists to check left before turning left. Of course anyone old enough to remember proper trams in our towns and cities will know the rules regarding undertaking and overtaking are different where trams are concerned, but most motorists don’t know that. They just assume that nothing should be on their left.

    The answer would be to move the tramway to the seaward side of the Metropole, which if memory serves me correct is where they were supposed to be in the first place! There is a reason they ended up where they did, but I can’t remember it. What I can’t fathom though is why they laid both tracks on the same side of the road? Would it not have been more sensible to put them down the middle like pretty much every other tramway (including Fleetwood) did?

    • Kev says:

      It cannot be moved without substantial rebuilding amd strengthening. If people aren’t aware of their surroundings or able to read them they shouldn’t be driving!

    • Nigel Pennick says:

      First generation electric tramways had similar sections with double tracks on one side of the road, as on Westminster bridge in London. In some old photographs and films taken before World War I one can see vehicles passing trams on both sides. Tramway historians have traditionally not documented accidents that were not catastrophic, so we have no way of telling how many road traffic accidents with trams occurred in the past.

  8. Kev says:

    There were plenty of accidents, but there were also many more Trams! People were more used to driving around them so I bet that pro rata they would be fewer!

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