Madness on Blackpool prom

As feared, it has been confirmed that the Blackpool tramway is set to be heavily disrupted for the first two nights of the 2013 illuminations season. As well as the annual ‘switch-on’ event on Friday 30th August, a second event will also be taking place on Saturday 31st August. Whilst a concert by legendary pop band Madness would normally be fantastic news for the town, unfortunately the gig will have negative consequences for the tramway and its passengers.

As announced previously, Irish band The Script will perform on the Friday night before the illuminations are switched on by TV and radio personality Jonathan Ross and unlike previous years, this will be regarded as a concert rather than merely the switch-on ceremony, with a ticket price to suit! Madness will then headline a concert the following night. Both of these events, which form an expanded illuminations switch-on weekend, will be held at the controversial Tower Festival Headland site. Like last year, this will mean that the adjacent tramway will be closed off to create additional space for concert-goers. This will mean a return for the awful ‘split service’, with some trams operating from Starr Gate and terminating at either Tower or Manchester Square, with further cars running between North Pier and Fleetwood. Passengers wishing to travel along the tramway to view the illuminations, or indeed get home from work or go about their daily business, will therefore be forced to walk past the concert site.

Another unfortunate consequence of the events, is that no illumination tours will be able to operate on the first two nights of the lights season. Instead the first tours of 2013 will run on Sunday 1st September, departing from the Pleasure Beach loop, as they did in 2012. No major changes are expected for the tour format this year, with the three illuminated cars likely to dominate the output although hopefully there will also be plenty of opportunities to ride on other heritage trams too.

Whilst the aim of encouraging more tourists to stay in Blackpool for a weekend is a good one, it is a great pity that anyone who does not wish to see either of the concerts will be inconvenienced, and that Blackpool Transport will lose valuable revenue on both days. It is not yet known how long the tramway near the Tower will be closed off for, but disruption is likely all day on 30th & 31st August, and presumably some time will be needed to clear the tracks on 1st September before the line can re-open fully.

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10 Responses to Madness on Blackpool prom

  1. Ash Tomlinson says:

    I presume Flexity trams running from North Pier to Fleetwood will have to stable in the open overnight as per last year when it was the Elton John concert.

  2. John Gilbert says:

    Simply to say that this is indeed madness; the powers-that-be must have got their tiny minds totally addled. Can you seriously see this happening in France or Germany? Of course not. Trust the idiotic British councillors or whoever.

  3. Ken Walker says:

    So for the first two nights of the illuminations it will be impossible to view them all either by public or private transport. What an idiotic own goal! I hope that BTS will be compensated for any vandalism or other damage caused to their vehicles through being out stabled for the weekend. But given the stupidity of setting up the entertainment site at a location where it is vulnerable to inclement weather (remember the very first event being prematurely ended by the police? (no, not another pop group!)) we shouldn’t be surprised at anything in Blackpool

  4. Pete the Blackpool pensioner says:

    The Elton John concert had seating which overflowed on to the tram track.
    Later concerts were standing only, so that the trams could still run.
    Previously the switch-on event had been standing only in New Bonny Street car park.

  5. Nigel Pennick says:

    So begins another weary day for would-be tram passengers.

  6. Nathan Honest says:

    Every cloud has it’s silver lining. If the Flexities in the open do get vandalised, perhaps we could see some B Fleet action…

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      Maybe – although with only about 9 or 10 drivers trained on the traditional trams that would be rather doubtful! Personally I very much hope that NO trams are vandalised!

  7. Ash Tomlinson says:

    I really think all tram drivers should be trained to drive all trams of the Blackpool fleet. At least that would enable the B fleet to run more often.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      Perhaps in the long-term, but right now this seems a bit impractical. Would you propose that drivers have to be trained on all vehicle types before they start work? If so, that would prolong the training process to such an extent that it may well affect the core service. Besides, I rather like the present setup where the heritage trams are crewed by staff who actually WANT to work on them! I always remember a particularly tedious run with Marton 31 in 2010, when the driver seemed to begrudge having to drive it and despite being incredibly late, was more interested in getting in plenty of stack time than anything else!

  8. Bring back the Talbot Square and Central Drive to Squires Gate route, with extension to Lytham! 🙂

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