After more than four months of enforced inactivity, the Birkenhead heritage tramway has finally re-opened for business, with Saturday 23rd February becoming the first operating day for the line in 2013. It may be remembered that the tramway was forced to close shortly after last year’s annual Bus & Tram Show in October as improved safety procedures needed to be implemented – and this lengthy task has now been completed.
It is a credit to those involved in the running of the tramway that all of the necessary policies have been brought up to scratch as quickly as they have, especially in light of the difficult situation the tramway has found itself in over the last few years. With Wirral Council keen to distance itself from the expenses associated with a working tramway and museum, and no real progress from Merseytravel in terms of their on-off-on-off takeover bid, it is looking increasingly likely that the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society will become responsible for the operation of the attraction in the future. Talks have been taking place regarding the formation of a new organisation to run the transport museum, and the MTPS will almost certainly be the leaders of such a venture when or if it happens.
Back in the present though, and with the relevant people now satisfied with health and safety procedures put in writing for the tramway, a date was set for the return of a heritage tram service along the Wirral. As an added bonus, two trams were rostered to operate on both Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th February. Usually it is left to the two Hong Kong built cars to operate on winter weekends, but to celebrate the resumption of the service, Hong Kong 69 was joined in service by Lisbon 730 on both days.
Of course this is just the beginning of what will hopefully be an exciting year for the MTPS, with Lisbon 730 set for a much bigger adventure soon, as it heads to the North East to star in the Beamish Museum tramway’s 40th anniversary celebrations. It is also expected that Liverpool 245 should be launched into service this summer, and hopefully these two major events will mark a positive turning point for a tramway which has endured more than its fair share of bad news recently.