Boating by night in Blackpool

Blackpool Boat car 600 became the first non-illuminated tram to work an evening heritage/illuminations tour during the new era of the tramway on Monday 3rd September. This followed on from speculation that only the three feature cars would operate on tours for the remainder of the season, and its appearance on this unusually warm night was certainly very welcome.

600 was in fact the first tour car to leave the depot, which enabled it to complete a round trip and get back to Pleasure Beach in time to operate a second tour, the final such working of the night. Although it had to reverse at Bispham on its first northbound run, this was a small price to pay to see an open tram work two tours. On this occasion 600 took the place of the Trawler 737, with the other two feature cars both in use as normal, and eyewitness reports state that all three trams were filled to capacity. After struggling to attract passengers to ride on the heritage fleet all season, this is excellent news and will hopefully prove that there is sufficient interest to justify the continued use of the old fleet in Blackpool.

Whilst staff shortages may limit the number of tours that can run, hopefully a precedent has now been set and further mild evenings may lead to further appearances by the Boat cars. Critics of the illumination tour operation have been silenced after just a few days, and whilst it would be understandable if the feature cars are used most – after all, they do contribute greatly to the annual spectacle – hopefully there will be further appearances by historic trams on these tours. It is certainly pleasing that the Blackpool tramway continues to provide some nice surprises in the modern age, and hopefully these will continue over the weeks, and indeed years, ahead.

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10 Responses to Boating by night in Blackpool

  1. Ken Walker says:

    It looks as though I will have to eat my words from my last posting when I said it was unlikely that any positive news would be heard about the tramway! This is the time of year when more than any other time BTS should be trying to get as much exposure and revenue out of their heritage fleet as possible. But I wonder to what degree the lack of passengers on the heritage service during the season has been due to the uncertainty as to whether a full heritage service (or any at all) would be running, leading to potential riders going to somewhere like Crich or Heaton Park instead? Let us hope that BTS rise to the challenge for the illuminations period. It was a shame that no heritage tours ran on the first night, but this was beyond BTS’ control.

    • Bob Milner says:

      I think one of the reasons for the heritage trams attracting poor business during the season was the £10 which ok also gave you access to the new cars and all BTS buses! However bearing in mind a normal day-pass was £4.50 or £3.50 if bought at a shop this makes the £10 look a tad expensive! Maybe next year if they offered the tour at a more reasonable price it will do business plus maybe a few more Heritage stops would help?

  2. GLYN says:

    last Night the 3rd, the Illuminations Tram were, first was Bolton 66, then the Frigate, and last the Western Train, plenty of Flexis, nothing like Saturday the 1st, are more normal service.

  3. Andrew Blood says:

    The £10 ticket is a bargain. It is unlikely to be reduced for next season and, hopefully, it wont be as the money is needed to pay for the upkeep of our heritage. As for more stops on the heritage tour – it isnt going to happen due to government restrictions. Enjoy and support what we have rather than wishing for more stops and cheaper fares.

  4. Matthew says:

    Personally I find the heritage ticket to be of good value, but in comparison to Blackpool Transport’s bargain bus and tram tickets, it looks expensive. For family’s the price is unjustifiable after looking at the LRT prices. The main way I see how the heritage service can be improved is to add more stops, where I’d recommend Central Pier, Wilton Parade and the Norbreck Hotel to make the service more attractive to tourists.

  5. Ken Walker says:

    To be fair there was also a £5 ticket for a single ride on a heritage tram plus all day availability on the flexities and buses, and when you consider the cost of entry into Crich museum, by comparison all-day rides on heritage trams at Blackpool for £10 is good value. I think the problem as far as enthusiasts are concerned has been the uncertainty as to whether a full (or even any) heritage service would operate on any particular day which has acted as a deterrent and caused them to go to places such as Crich or Heaton Park instead where they could be certain of their heritage rides. Transport to / from Blackpool is certainly not cheap by public or private transport and people are probably not prepared to pay out large amounts of money for what might be a wasted journey. The 4-day suspension of services and reports of heritage trams not running due to crew shortages have certainly been what has kept me away this summer. BTS need to get their act together for next year IF they want the heritage service to succeed.

  6. Jono says:

    When you think of how much it is to ride the heirtage for the day. You can go all round Manchester and even to Crich on a peak way farer ticket which costs the same (£10) The Ticket allows you to go on all of the buses trams and trains in the area.

    • Bob Milner says:

      Well said Jono.
      I know the tram enthusiasts love those cars (me included) but please remember that we are a holiday resort with Joe Bloggs and family here to enjoy themselves! It is wonderful if we can get them to use the Heritage cars as part of their holiday so a £10 ticket or even a £5 ticket for a one-off journey does not look good value to them – I heard it said when waiting at a stop! It would be far better to charge a realistic price – offer more stops – they do it with those fabulous Routemasters – so why not the Heritage Card and have them busy. You know the danger is that BTS could say that the Heritage cars aren’t viable because of poor uptake. Make the price attractive, market it and it must be a winner

  7. Gareth Prior says:

    OK, enough is enough! We will not be approving any further comments about the heritage tour prices etc – from either viewpoint. I think we have gone round and round and round in circles and it is obvious that some people think it is too much and others think it is fine and neither side is ever going to agree with the other so there is absoloutely no point in us continuing this.