Following a lengthy absence from British shores, Blackpool Flexity 002 finally returned to its home system on the morning of Thursday 1st November. Following a very brief stint in service in April, this tram had been returned to Germany whilst under warranty as apparently Bombardier were unhappy with the finish of this tram and 001 (which was worked on at Blackpool) compared to the rest of the class.
Whilst in Germany the opportunity had been taken to display 002 at a trade show, allowing Bombardier to show off its latest product to othert potential buyers across the globe. Having travelled back via Hull Docks, 002 arrived at Starr Gate before lunchtime on November 1st and was unloaded on the headshunt so as not to block the mainline, allowing service cars to pass undisturbed. As 002‘s return co-incided with the busy school half-term holidays and the use of modified Balloon cars in normal passenger service, quite a few enthusiasts were in town, many of whom witnessed the unloading process. The tram was quickly placed on the rails, its pantograph was raised and it was then driven into the nearby tram depot to be commissioned for use. As it only carried passengers on one day early in the season, few people have ridden on 002 as yet but that is expected to change within the next few weeks.
It is not known what work has been done to 002 during its stay in Germany which lasted for nearly six months, although externally full livery branding and fleet numbers have now been added, the car having previously run in a plain base coat. Its return now means that, for the first time ever, all sixteen of the Flexity2 trams purchased to provide the core tram service are now together in Blackpool – and it shouldn’t be too long until the whole class are available for service, finally completing the latest chapter in the long and fascinating history of Blackpool’s tramway.