Planned service frequency announced for Blackpool Tramway

Since the announcement last month that the Blackpool Tramway extension up Talbot Road to North Station would open to the public from 16th June (and even before then) one of the questions on people’s lips has been “what sort of service will run on the extension?”. And that has now been answered with the planned service frequency having been revealed.

One of the concerns of some was that all trams running between Starr Gate and Fleetwood would be diverted to head onto the extension but that is thankfully not the case, although there is likely to be some complaints about the planned service pattern which will see a significant reduction in frequency of trams running along the entire length of the tramway.

There will be three different services operating:

  • Starr Gate to Fleetwood Ferry
  • Starr Gate to North Station
  • Fleetwood Ferry to North Station

Each of these services will run every 30 minutes. Combined that means that the advertised frequency will be as follows:

  • Starr Gate to North Pier – every 15 minutes
  • Fleetwood Ferry to North Pier – every 15 minutes

The exact timetable has not yet been published so its not clear at the moment whether there will be decent connections at North Station to transfer between trams on the Fleetwood and Starr Gate services.

If there are not good connections it looks set to mean that frequency between anywhere north of North Pier and those locations south (and vice versa) will be halved from the current timetable with just one tram every 30 minutes. With the number of hotels on the prom between North Pier and Bispham (and beyond to Norbreck) with tourists wanting to get to the Pleasure Beach for example it would appear that there will be a lot of “Sorry Tram Full” displays on the trams once again this summer.

The new timetable will be introduced as from Sunday 16th June with no details as to when this may run until (although recent years have not seen many changes to the timetable as the season has progressed as we were used to seeing in the past).

Driver familiarisation has been continuing on the extension since getting underway in April. Here trams meet on Talbot Road when heading in opposite directions, an issue with the lights here on this day caused delays and led to the two trams being stationery for some time. Its 012 on the left and 006 on the right. (Photograph by Peter Dockerty, 8th May 2024)

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16 Responses to Planned service frequency announced for Blackpool Tramway

  1. John Hibbert says:

    Seems a backwards move to reduce the through Fleetwood – Starr Gate frequency. Changing trams at North Pier involves a walk between stops and a road crossing in either direction – and whats going to happen about fares? Will tickets be valid for through journeys?

  2. Kev says:

    The fact that this has not been released online etc and only in an email hopefully means that there is more to come and there will be something intermediate, say Pleasure Beach to Little Bispham. If not and if the North station trams don’t connect there will be a lot of very angry people.
    I feel sorry for the crews already.

  3. Christopher Callan says:

    It leaves you wondering what exactly the point was of purchasing 017 & 018 was when you look at the required number of trams to fulfil that pitiful service. Even more baffling strong rumours persist a plan exists to purchase 019 shortly.

  4. Nostalgicyetprogressive says:

    Market Street is a short walk from Talbot Square and offers a choice of buses for the Pleasure Beach – Nos. 11 and 68. From Station Road bus stop (on Lytham Road) it would not be very far via Osborne Road to reach the desired destination. If passengers are very lucky, they may also avail themselves of the 1a hourly service which for bus pass holders from outside the area offers the added benefit of free travel. Of course, four people n a taxi would spread the cost enough to make this also a reasonable option, especially if sharing arrangements can be organised. This would no doubt appease the taxi drivers many of whom weren’t keen on the North Station extension.

  5. Andy says:

    Whatbthe new service hinges around is if the trams terminating at North Station will switch routes while they are there. If a tram coming in from Starr Gate changes to an outbound service to Fleetwood, that would bmean the pitiful servioce on the prom (between say Tower and Gynn Square) wouldn’t be so bad if passengers are allowed to remain aboard the tram. However I fear that won’t be the case as that would more correctly be called Starr Gate to Fleetwood via North Station.

    However what nobody seems to have picked up on is teh fact that pre “upgrade” the Fleetwood service, running the while length of the line, was at least every 20 minutes and up to every 10 minutes in the season, plus a lot of specials being directed by inspectors.

    So here’s the solution…
    Starr Gate to Fleetwood direct LRT every 30 minutes with a B-fleet or heritage car running the same service 15 mins behind.
    Starr Gate to Fleetwood via North Station every 30 minutes with a B-fleet or heritage car running the same servive 15 minutes behind.
    That would mean 4 cars an hour serving North Staion in each direction, 8 cars per hour each wak on Central Prom and 8 cars an hour to Fleetwood. Every location would have the choice between LRT and traditional tram (The thing BT are scared of doing because they know what will happen) and there’s nothing the Eu (or anyone else) can whinge on about regarding accessibiity because the following traditional car is technically a duplicate on a route where low floor services are available.

    At leaso some of the extra tram and crew output required could come from suspending the heritage tours because the heritage fleet will be making what are effectively full length tours at the rate of 4 every hour and doing it at the same price as normal tickets, which would be interchangable.

    The above would give passengers the best possible choice, put the iconic heritage fleet back on the prom on a full-time basis and provide the best service frequency Blackpool has seen in years.

    Twin car to the station anyone? 🙂

    • Kev1 says:

      You can’t run Heritage on service, how many times do people have to be told? You also can’t run B to North Station satisfactorily as you can’t open the offside doors so they can only use one side of the island until the Tram is switched over.
      The solution is an intermediate prom service Pleasure Beach to Cleveleys.

    • John says:

      Andy this does not work. Heritage cannot stop at every platform, only B fleet so you would have pointless journeys with 6 stops.

  6. D.Butterworth says:

    As a long time visitor to Blackpool since 1952, I find the planned reduction of the through service from Starr Gate to Fleetwood difficult to understand. Harking back to the fifties, the summer service frequency was 15 minutes to Fleetwood, with an intermediate service to Thornton Gate. These services were operated by the new Coronation trams. Blackpool’s tram network was quite prestigious at that time. Thirty minutes between trams from Bispham and Cleveleys will result in overcrowding at those locations. The many holiday makers wishing to travel to Pleasure Beach (there are a lot of them!) will doubtless become very frustrated if left stranded at those locations and others on the route. I only hope that some kind of timetabled intermediate service is organised for the summer season.

  7. Jonathan Jarvis says:

    In the New Tramway Extension brochure put out by Blackpool Council it said:

    “Proposed Services. The existing tramway service operates between Starr Gate and Fleetwood Ferry from approximately 05.30am until 11.30pm, with a peak service every 10 minutes. Following completion of the extension to North Station, these services and timescales will be maintained.

    The proposed services to North Station will operate to a similar timescale with a peak service every 10 minutes. The services to and from North Station will alternate with northbound services towards Bispham and southbound services towards Pleasure Beach. The additional services to and from North Station will also provide additional capacity and an increased frequency of service in the busy seafront area of the tramway network”

    This wording was included in the planning application for the project.

    A half-hourly service would be a total let-down, both for attracting new passengers to the North Station service, and for existing passengers on the Promenade service.

    • Andrew says:

      I’m pleased that you’ve mentioned this. I suspect that, had the new planned service level been suggested at that early stage, funding for the extension would never have been recieved.

      Personally, and I’m clearly not alone, I think the suggested frequency is an absolute disgrace and could mark the end of the Blackpool tramway as a vaguely credible public transport system. Trams every half hour between the Pleasure Beach and the many hotels on North Shore between North Pier and Little Bispham – how on earth is that supposed to cope in the peak season? Cleveleys and Fleetwood are bound to suffer as well. Frankly, I have grave concerns for the long-term survival of the line to Fleetwood if this absymal level of “service” becomes the norm. If such a measly frequency can be considered adequate, then does Blackpool even really need a tramway?

      For the record, I’m not against the North Station extension at all, but for various reasons it seems that Blackpool Transport cannot cope with operating it as well as the existing promenade line.

  8. Matthew says:

    I can’t help but think the tramway will run less efficiently than ever before with this change, mainly due to only a half hourly direct service from North Shore to South Shore.

    Perhaps a better service pattern without requiring much additional resources of vehicles and crews would be:
    Starr Gate – Fleetwood Ferry Every 20 Minutes
    Starr Gate – Cleveleys via North Station Every 20 Minutes

    Therefore providing a combined 10 minute frequency over the busier Blackpool end of the line

  9. D.Butterworth says:

    Unlikely, as North Station to South Shore isn’t included.

  10. Christopher Callan says:

    The proposed service means that from June if you wish to get a direct tram from say Pleasure Beach to the Cabin you are expected to wait up to 30 minutes for a timetabled service… (and that is assuming that when it does finally arrive you are not greeted with “Sorry Tram Full” with it simply gliding past). I honestly don’t think even the operators’ biggest critics could have predicted a timetable quite as pitiful.. I just feel for the frontline staff. It wont help with retention rates that is for sure. Hopefully political pressure is been exerted and change in approach prior to launch. To to think Simon Blackburn & Co were promising a 5 minute headway (Cleveleys-Pleasure Beach) & 10 Minute Network Headway in 2012…

    • Nostalgicyetprogressive says:

      If you’re right about staff retention, this could be the start of a vicious circle as the reason for limited service across both bus and tram services would seem to be a general shortage of operatinal staff. Strangely, there seems to be little competition along the promenade, particularly between the Tower and Pleasure Beach, from rival operators such as the ‘Coastliner’ services, who no longer operate the 21 as far as South Promenade. I wonder whether they are experiencing similar recruitment issues or even if operating restrictions are in place to favour the trams. In the latter case, one would expect the Tramway to take proper advantage of the situation, rather than risk leaving passengers stranded along the South Promenade section. Maybe we’ll see taxi drivers touting for business from such passengers as they have previously done over the years. Maybe a good year to seek employment on the taxis!

  11. Jack Gledhill says:

    If the idea that the existing tramway in conjunction with the new tramway extension was schedule to make a profit under the original operational regulations, which seemed highly unlikely; the news that both of the above are cut
    by 33% surely this will result in a substantial loss and the early demise of this doomed and totally unnecessary folly!

  12. Transport Realist says:

    If this is the best they can do with a brand new transport link and supposed interchange then its time Blackpool Transport moved aside and let someone else run it. 30 minutes direct, barely any difference if to go to North station and wait to change to wait for the next direct! No viable alternatives (the hourly 1 ends at North pier and the 1A serves only Cleveleys – HOURLY just to emphasize!)
    How on earth will this cope when its quiet, never mind full season and illuminations.
    It has been suggested staff retention is an issue, as it is in most public transport. having seen the wages and conditions I’m not surprised. Trams so full they can’t even try and collect money, abuse by unhappy people forced onto expensive trams because there is no alternative. I feel this will be even worse. Yet the MD seems completely oblivious – too busy posing for cameras and bringing in electric buses – get a decent and integrated service first!!
    A definite new low for the town and the worst service since before the new trams came.

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