Following the report submitted in regard of the previously reported fire on board Blackpool Towing car 272 last month, it is pleasing to confirm that the Railway Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) have decided not to conduct any further investigation as they are satisfied that the incident was only a minor one. However, Blackpool Transport and the Blackpool Heritage Trust have nonetheless decided to take a pro-active response to this by assessing some of the other trams in the heritage fleet.
A number of trams with wiring of a similar age to that in 272 are therefore being subjected to through electrical assessments to determine what work, if any, is required to keep them in good running order. So far, Box 40 and Railcoach 680 have been examined and given a clean bill of health, with the latter then appearing on illumination tours on the evening of 26th October after a few weeks out of action. Balloon 715 is currently out of service being assessed and this will shortly be followed by Twin set 675+685, which has not operated since the tramway anniversary weekend event held last month.
Boat cars 227 and 230 are also to be re-wired over the winter period and some work has already been started on red liveried 227 in preparation for this, with some of its seats being removed to enable access to the wiring looms by workshop staff. Naturally, the Boats are some of the most popular trams in the operational fleet and so this investment in them is most welcome, as it should ensure that all of them remain serviceable for a good number of years to come.
Whilst the decision to temporarily withdraw useful cars for examination has slightly reduced the available pool of heritage trams for use during October, this pro-active approach should be viewed as a positive sign that Blackpool Transport are taking the past incident seriously, and ensuring that the future of its historic trams is as bright as possible. There have still been a good amount of trams to choose from for daytime and night tours as well as private hires, with B Fleet Balloons assisting at a time when high-capacity cars have been favoured thanks to heavy loadings during school half-term holidays. Some fine days have even seen open top Marton 31 used, whilst Boat 600 worked a couple of illumination tours on October 26th. So it is clear that the heritage fleet is in good health overall, and come next summer the situation should be even better once these assessments are complete and hopefully all of the trams involved will have returned to service.