Blackpool Transport have now confirmed details of their plans for illumination tours during 2013. It is extremely pleasing to report that, although the tram output will understandably be dominated by the three illuminated feature cars, the rest of the heritage fleet have not been forgotten, with two historic trams due to operate at least twice a week! This is wonderful news for those of who feared that many of our favourite trams would be confined to the depot until Easter 2014.
Following on from the huge success of the illumination tours in 2012, Blackpool Transport have responded with a more ambitious programme for this year’s tours, which commence on Sunday 1st September and then run nightly until Sunday 10th November. Every Friday and Saturday evening, it is planned to run five different trams on tours, meaning that two ‘heritage’ cars should be used in addition to the Western Train 733+734, Frigate 736 and Trawler 737. There should be also be five cars out nightly during the busy October half term week. At all other times, three cars will operate tours and these should normally be the aforementioned illuminated trio.
However, as with most things Blackpool-related, there’s another twist. Between 1st and 12th September, the first tour car will need to reverse at Bispham in order to get back to Pleasure Beach in time to complete a second tour before the lights are switched off. Due to the feature cars being effectively single-ended, this means that for these two weeks, the first tour each evening will be worked by a vintage tram, with just two of the illuminated trams being used. It is expected that attempts will be made to use those cars which will be more attractive to non-enthusiasts to compensate for the lack of one illuminated car, with the likes of Bolton 66 and Standard 147 likely to dominate due to their high capacity.
As the nights become darker earlier, there will be a less narrow window for the operation of lights tours and therefore the need to reverse at Bispham will disappear from 13th September. However, what is planned should cater for the desires of many enthusiasts and offer the novel treat of a vintage tram ride in darkness, whilst of course remembering that these workings are primarily aimed at the general public. We wish BTS well with the tours and hopefully they will help to further justify the survival of a varied heritage tram fleet in the town.
Illumination tours commence from 1st September and will load at the heritage tram stop on Pleasure Beach loop ONLY (although it will be possible to alight at other heritage tram stops). For the first two weeks the first tour will depart at 8:00pm with the last tour departing at 9:00pm, or 10:00pm on Fridays and Saturdays, when the lights stay on later. The switch-on time then becomes progressively earlier as the season progresses, although the timing of the last tours will remain unchanged. The normal heritage tram tour fares will apply, with a round trip priced at £5 for adults or £3 for children. Day passes will also be available for £10 offering unlimited all-day travel on the normal service trams and buses as well as the chance to ride the tour cars more than once.
Our grateful thanks go to Bryan Lindop of Blackpool Transport Services Ltd. for providing the information contained in this report.