Event Review: Crich Tramway Village Tramathon 2008

British Trams Online Webmaster Gareth Prior reports from the 2008 Tramathon at the Crich Tramway Village. In recent years the event has come in for a little criticism with some suggesting it is getting a little stale. What about 2008? Read on to find out…

The Crich Tramway Village literature states that Tramathon is a day when “all our operational trams run”, and I guess if you exclude those currently unavailable due to overhauls and those withdrawn that is exactly what happened during the day. But despite the fact 17 different trams were in operation it did feel a bit of an anti-climax.

Due to overhauls and trams requiring attention the operational fleet at Crich seems to be running at a fairly low level this year and as such there were not too many trams to be used. But this was probably just as well as limited volunteer crews seemed to be available meaning not all 17 trams could be used at once.

In past years when I have written this article I have been able to write a couple of pages on the different tram movements, different trams displayed on the Depot fan and Works cars out and about. This year I can’t as only passenger trams moved an inch with a few changeovers at lunchtime the only things to really report.

At the start of the day Blackpool and Fleetwood Rack 2, Chesterfield 7, Glasgow 22, Blackpool Standard 40, Southampton 45, Johannesburg 60, Paisley 68, Sheffield 74, Blackpool Pantograph 167, Leeds 345, Leeds 399, Glasgow 812 and Liverpool 869 were all in service, normally operating in pairs up the line. The open trams were very popular with warm weather being enjoyed.

Leeds 345 only managed to run around one full journey before being withdrawn from service and moved to the Workshop. It is believed that it had developed a problem with its controller and so required attention. Leeds 180 replaced it in service. The remainder of the morning ran fairly smoothly with well loaded trams on most journeys.

Lunchtime came and a number of trams returned to Depot so the crews could take a break. After this a number of crews swapped trams so all operational cars could have a run. Blackpool Standard 40, Blackpool Pantograph 167 and Glasgow 812 all came out of service with Oporto 273, London Transport 1622 and Berlin 3006 replacing them.

273 and 1622 were only able to operate as far as Wakebridge because of issues between their bogies and the new (temporary) track at Wakebridge. Both of these operated for the majority of the remainder of the day but their lack of operational flexibility did cause a few issues of delay at Wakebridge. 3006 only operated one return journey as a group of disabled passengers wanted to ride on a tram.

The one really exciting development in the day happened right at the very end when Blackpool Toastrack 166 was used on a “Workshop Outing”. The tram has been undergoing an overhaul and unfortunately the paint and varnish job has not quite dried as yet meaning it could not be used for passengers. The tram operated a Depot-Town End-Depot journey – and many people would have missed this, although the tram was stabled outside the Workshop for a time.

As the day came towards an end trams started to return to Depot for a good clean and rest. Leeds 345 moved from the Workshop back to the Depot with its place taken by Southampton 45.

And that was just about that for Tramathon 2008. There were no trams displayed anywhere, the Exhibition Hall doors weren’t even opened and no Works Cars were in use. In past years we have had Glasgow and Blackpool tram line-ups, trams such as Grimsby & Immingham 14, Glasgow 1100 and Johannesburg 60 (before its resurrection) displayed and Works cars making trips at least as far as Wakebridge. 2008 – zilch!

The Verdict:

2.5 out of 5

I have been continually going between 2 and 3 as a rating for the event and in the end have decided to right in the middle! The only reason that I have even gone this high is because 166 made a brief appearance. I did feel that something has to be done about Tramathon as it is becoming slightly stale. I know that volunteers are needed to ensure the smooth running of the day but it almost seems a lack of thought and ideas have been going into the day in recent years – at least open the Exhibition Hall doors with the weather being nice. But saying that if it is trams in service you want then Tramathon is the day you want.

Trams in Service:

Blackpool & Fleetwood Rack 2

Chesterfield 7

Glasgow 22

Blackpool Standard 40 (morning only)

Southampton 45

Johannesburg 60

Paisley 68

Sheffield 74

Blackpool Pantograph 167 (morning only)

Leeds 180 (replaced 345 mid-morning)

Oporto 273 (afternoon only – as far as Wakebridge only)

Leeds 345 (one journey only in morning)

Leeds 399

Glasgow 812 (morning only)

Liverpool 869

London Transport 1622 (afternoon only – as far as Wakebridge only)

Berlin 3006 (one journey only in afternoon)

Other trams making main line appearances:

Blackpool Toastrack 166 (one journey Depot-Town End-Depot only)

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