Since the Blackpool tramway re-opened as a modern light rail system last year, the main fault of the system has been the inadequacies of the service provision on Sundays. Whilst it is common practice for many modern-day transport operators to reduce their timetabled service on a Sunday, Blackpool is different as the town relies heavily on the tourist trade, meaning that Sunday is often one of the busiest days of the week. However, Blackpool Transport have now vastly improved this previous weakness with the introduction of a revised summer tram timetable for the 2013 season.
It is pleasing to report that a ten-minute headway is now on offer daily. This level of service commences at 9:00am on Sundays, as opposed to 8:00am for the rest of the week, with the frequency gradually being stepped up from the first departure of the day. The first tram to leave Starr Gate on Sundays does not do so until 7:00am – considerably later than on weekdays, but this is still an extremely positive move. This is expected to require the use of 13 Flexity trams daily, which should be an achievable target for these extremely reliable trams, even with car 007 currently off the road having been damaged in a road traffic accident a few weeks ago.
Improvements have also been made to the evening tram service. Last summer a rather feeble half hourly service was offered throughout the school summer holidays, but this has now been increased with a northbound tram leaving Starr Gate every fifteen minutes from 6:00pm until 9:15pm, when the half-hourly service returns. In the southbound direction, the ten minute service from Fleetwood Ferry runs from 9:03am to 7:03pm, and trams then run every fifteen minutes until the half-hour service kicks in after the 10:18pm Fleetwood to Starr Gate departure. Again, this is provided on both weekdays and weekends, which is a very pleasing step.
The 2012 season was sometimes referred to as a steep learning curve as Blackpool Transport adapted to the considerable changes made to the tramway. It appears that many lessons have been learned from last year’s experiences, and these have been taken on board – the result being an excellent peak season tram service. With the heritage tram service also seeing major improvements this year, it seems that Blackpool Transport have reached a good balance and this should serve the tramway well for the foreseeable future, further cementing the incredible success of the LRT upgrade.
Full details of the 2013 summer timetables can be found at www.blackpooltransport.com