The transformation of Seaton Tramway’s no. 17 into a fully enclosed saloon tram was completed in the lead up to Christmas with it being used alongside the other enclosed single deck trams during the Polar Express event. As part of the tram’s rebuild it has been renumbered 15 and has been completed in a blue and white livery.
The tram was originally built as 17 in 1988 and was the first wheelchair accessible tram for Seaton with the seats removable to carry wheelchairs. Based on a Manx Electric Railway crossbench car 17’s role to carry wheelchairs was usurped following the arrival of double deckers 9, 10 and 11 although it remained a unique and popular tram in the fleet. Withdrawn from service at the end of 2015 a start was then made on converting the tram into an enclosed saloon with design elements again coming from the Manx Electric Railway. Internally the tram is roomy with two side seats down each side covered in material and curtains matching at the windows. There is level access from the platforms to saloon (linked by sliding doors) with spacious platforms provided allowing for good pushchair storage. 15 retains the same controllers as previously with the addition of a self laping air brake valve and new LED tail lights have been fitted.
The work in converting 15 to a fully enclosed tram was completed by the end of 2016 and after trial running it was cleared to enter service during December with its first use coming on the Polar Express specials which also utilised fellow enclosed saloons 14, 16 and 19.
Following Christmas and with Seaton running 15 entered normal passenger service for the first time on Tuesday 27th December with it seeing use each day until Monday 2nd January on this special service (double deckers 9 and 10 also saw use during this period).
With the entry into service of 15 the Seaton Tramway fleet now has four useful enclosed trams although it is a shame that in order to achieve this the unique Crossbench style of 17 is no more.