Appeal for funds to complete overhaul of the Western Train launched

Blackpool’s popular Illuminated Western Train hasn’t run since the end of 2019 and now with its overhaul approaching completion, Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours have launched an appeal to complete the work. The overhaul started last winter but has been stalled by the various lockdowns caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and now with the finishing line in sight extra funds are needed to return the tram to the operating fleet once more.

Those who follow the Blackpool Tramway closely will be aware that the staff involved in the engineering side of Heritage Tram Tours have been furloughed during periods when it hasn’t been possible for any tours to run and with little income coming in at the same time there haven’t been the funds available to complete various works. Which is where this appeal comes in.

A target of £2,500 has been set for the work to be completed (and with donations coming in quickly it looks as if this may be met pretty soon!) with a Go Fund Me page created for donations to be made.

So far the bodywork repairs have been completed and the Western Train has also enjoyed a repaint along with around three quarters of the wiring finished. But with staff furloughed it is currently sitting in the workshops waiting for the work to be completed and it is hoped that with this fundraising as soon as staff return to work in the spring the work will be able to be completed in time for the Train to return to service in time for the 2021 Illuminations.

Anyone who donates £50 or more will receive two tickets to enjoy Heritage Tram Tours either on the Western Train or another tram in the fleet – once services are able to resume again. But Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours will be delighted to receive any donations whether that a £1 or £100 – as they say “Every Little Helps”.

Update: The fundraiser has now been disabled as the target has been reached!

The Western Train is seen on Pleasure Beach loop doing what it does best – illumination tours. This is 21st September 2012. (Photograph by Gareth Prior)

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6 Responses to Appeal for funds to complete overhaul of the Western Train launched

  1. Chris Callan says:

    Considering Blackpool Transport Services Ltd were given £278,000 to rebuild the Illuminated Western Train by the National Lottery (Heritage Fund) in 2006 and have clearly generated significant income from it (with minimal attention lavished on it) year on year up until 2019 I am surprised they feel compelled to beg for money through their trading name “Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours”.

    Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours (both directly & indirectly) have benefited from thousands of pounds worth of generous donations since its inception… So surprised this narrative seems to been painted never asked for help before… Bit of a kick in the teeth to those who given in the past.. (Reference to their Press Release found on their own website)… Personally lost count how many times I have been asked to give money directly & indirectly to the operation in question.

  2. Andrew Waddington says:

    I’m confused as to what this appeal is about. Wasn’t the work on the Western Train – which is surely a re-fresh, not a restoration as it has been described as elsewhere – included in last year’s workshop budget? Granted the heritage operation lost revenue last year due to covid, but running costs should also have been reduced with staff on furlough and trams not needing maintenance, repairs etc. for much of the year.

    Surely it is in the best interests of Heritage Tram Tours to ensure that the Train is ready for the next illuminations season, as its probably the best loved and most profitable tram in the whole fleet? I would have thought that mothballing some of the less useful cars in the fleet such as 631 & 701 would free up some workshop resources and save a bit of money on maintenance, insurance costs etc. to allow the Train to be completed if times are that hard. Asking for public donations to get the most important tram back in service doesn’t sit quite right with me as it will rake it in once completed. In any case, surely the workshop staff won’t sit around twiddling their thumbs when they return to work? Or will the tram be left unfinished unless the full amount is raised? Does anyone know?

    A local newspaper are even running with the headline ‘Save the Train’, seemingly to imply that its future is under some kind of threat. I wonder how many people will be donating to the appeal without even understanding what the project is and fearing for its survival?

  3. Chris Callan says:

    Let’s be frank without this flagship tramcar available to fulfil the plethora of high-profile hire commitments and it able to be out on track generating vital revenue during the Illuminations the heritage side of the business has no viable path forward. In even the worst-case scenarios outlined prior to the light-rail upgrade the iconic Heritage Lottery Funded “Illuminated Western Train” was never under any real threat with its operational future very much secure…

    If Blackpool Council / Blackpool Transport Services cannot muster just £2500 to ensure this asset is available to earn it income for the 2021 Illuminations (which have been extended once again till January as I type) things are more desperate than anyone previously realised…

    £4.5 Million was recent secured for the Illuminations as part of the Town Deal… Are we seriously saying the Council completely forgot the Illuminated Trams as part of this…

  4. Matthew says:

    I think the easiest way to look at this is if you dont agree with it you dont donate.

    I am not affilated with BTS/HTT in anyway but I can help out with a few of these points…
    “included in last year’s workshop budget?” – Budgets are made upon projected income not physical cash in hand, and income last year would have been well down on initial budgets.
    “mothballing some of the less useful cars in the fleet such as 631 & 701” – I think the cost of mothballing these cars would be negligible (unless they required any repairs), trams arent like cars or buses where you would save money on Tax, MOT and Insurance, so you couldnt simply take vehicles off and expect insurance to come down.
    “surely the workshop staff won’t sit around twiddling their thumbs when they return to work?” – Wages ofcourse do make up a large part of costs, but its not just that. Its also the cost of parts which dont come cheap, especially projects which require retyring and motors rewinding for example. I do agree though that for those wondering this maybe HTT could have been a bit more specific with what the funds would exactly be spent on.

    I hope some of these points are of some use to how HTT might be thinking.

  5. Chris Callan says:

    Ultimately sufficient numbers have donated the money Blackpool Transport Services Limited (simply trading under the Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours moniker). I hope these individuals are treated significantly better than others who have donated in the past…

  6. paul.ellis589 says:

    What happened in the past? Please explain.

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