Following a repaint into a classic green and cream livery, Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours are re-launching Rebuilt Balloon car 718 with a series of special trips on the evening of Friday 26th May. It will be recalled that 718 previously operated in all-over white since its return to use last summer, having shed its advertising livery for Madame Tussaud’s Blackpool.
Dubbed as the ‘Shiny New Coat Tour’, this will be the first opportunity to see 718 running following its repaint. The chosen style is the ‘Millennium’ fleet livery worn by similar cars 707 and 709 following their rebuilds with drastically restyled ends, but never previously carried by 718. This will be the first time that this particular layout has been seen on the tramway since 2004, and will be a great improvement on the plain white it wore last season.
718 is scheduled to depart from Rigby Road depot (where passengers will unusually be permitted to board the car) at 1615 before heading to Fleetwood, picking up at the heritage tram tour stops at North Pier, Cabin, Bispham and Cleveleys en route. A full-length run to Starr Gate then follows, and the tram should then stay out until it reaches the depot again at 2125, with the evening’s entertainment concluded with a second run to Fleetwood. Only heritage day tickets will be accepted on 718‘s inaugural evening outing, priced at £11 for adults and £6 for children.
In addition to the reappearance of car 718 a daytime heritage promenade service will also operate on 26th May with two trams running between Pleasure Beach and North Pier plus additional journeys to Cabin. This will be a perfect start to the Bank Holiday weekend which of course sees three days of gold service fun on the tramway, with further use of illuminated cars Western Train 733+734 and Frigate 736 expected as part of this event, similar to the last gold weekend held over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend.
It should be stressed that, despite being painted in traditional colours, 718 retains its centre door modifications and is very much a part of the ‘B Fleet’. This means that it can still be called upon to work on specials to boost the core tram service, although presumably it is more likely to be favoured for heritage duties with three Flexity-liveried Balloons already available for such work.