Following countless delays, the much-hyped ‘ghost running’ of Blackpool’s new Flexity2 trams finally got underway on Friday 30th March, albeit not quite as expected. Prior to this day, only two of the new trams had even run to Fleetwood Ferry – 003 was the first on Tuesday 27th March, with 009 following for an official inspection on Thursday 29th. This set the scene for the real evaluation period to begin on the Friday, with an impressive turnout of eight different trams in use.
Although the ghost service started at 5:00am – exactly as the new trams will start for much of the week once public services commence – the day didn’t quite work as planned. Inexplicably, little effort was made to follow the new timetable with the trams running at rather erratic intervals. Indeed, whilst it was very good to see eight cars running on this day, only six trams will be required initially for the daily service making this a rather strange decision. It would also have been good to try and mix the new trams with some heritage cars, as will become a regular occurance this year, to attempt to see how well this will work in practice and try to iron out any timing issues before the system properly re-opens. This could well happen next week, but with time fast running out before the first passengers are carried on the fully modernised tramway, there may be no opportunities to try out a combination of old and new vehicles.
For the record, the trams that did run on March 30th were Flexities 001 – 005, and 007 – 009. Passenger services will resume in Blackpool on Wednesday 4th April, with a special inaugural trip on Tuesday 3rd for invited guests and competition winners. Will the tramway be ready and will the service cope with passenger numbers over the Easter holiday period? Only time will tell!