After a huge amount of anticipation from the enthusiast community, the long-awaited return to use of Twin set 672+682 in Blackpool finally occured during the evening of Friday 14th September. This reflected the first use of the duo since the final night of the 2011 season, after which time it was not expected to run in Blackpool again. However, since being rejected by the Tramway Museum Society due to a shortage of space, the car has been repainted in original cream livery and is now one of the star attractions of the tramway’s heritage fleet.
The freshly painted Twin car actually made a suprise appearance on test earlier on in the day, before emerging from Rigby Road ahead of its scheduled 6:00pm launch. Unfortunately, when it came to reversing at Foxhall for the short run to Pleasure Beach, problems were experienced with the trailer which resulted in the set continuing north to Little Bispham, so it could operate with the towing car in front all evening. This resulted in a minor delay but the tram made it to the Pleasure Beach loop, where it was officially launched into service by local Councillor Fred Jackson. Here, the gold fleet numbers – which had been covered over to create added suspense – were unveiled, confirming that the set will now be known by its original identity, with the towing car becoming 272 once again and the trailer becoming T2. Another nice surprise was the fitting of ‘Limited Stop’ wording on the glass above the destination screens at each end, in place of the more familiar ‘Progress Twin Car’ logos. Considering the new role of the cars, this seems extremely fitting.
After a brief ceremony, 272+T2 loaded up for a run to Little Bispham and back, and then stayed out on illumination tour duty, completing a total of three round trips before returning to the depot. Fortunately this time the controls of T2 were more co-operative, enabling the Twin car to run in trailer first. This had been a superb evening for the tramway, with all three illuminated feature cars and Standard 147 also out, giving plenty of choice and offering good value on a £10 heritage day ticket.
After the success of its debut as a member of the heritage fleet, it was excellent to see 272+T2 out again on the following two nights, complementing the illuminated trio and providing some welcome variety to any enthusiasts in town. Hopefully the trams will now see regular use for the rest of the season, in their stunning new guise. Considerable praise must go to Blackpool Transport for not only running a Twin set again, but also for repainting it to such a high standard. Reference must also be made to transport enthusiasts Graham Oliver, who made a very generous financial contribution towards the project.