Welcome to T1, T2 and T3 – the new era for the Blackpool Tramway

Sunday 16th June will mark a new era for the Blackpool Tramway as for the first time in 88 years trams will be running along Talbot Road on the extension to North Station (and the first time since 1963 that trams ran to the station along the former Dickson Road route). As well as that bit history the same date will see route numbers introduced – welcome to T1, T2 and T3!

Things come round in a circle (and we don’t mean Little Bispham or Pleasure Beach loops!) as the only previous time that there was a numbered tram route in Blackpool was when the Dickson Road route to North Station was no. 1, so using T1, T2 and T3 marks a bit of a change for the tramway. It also marks Blackpool out from the rest of the UK tramways as none others use numbers to denote routes (London Trams used to be but don’t anymore and South Yorkshire Supertram use colours).

As from Sunday 16th June the following routes will operate:

  • T1 – Starr Gate to Fleetwood direct
  • T2 – Starr Gate to North Station (to be known as the “south section”)
  • T3 – Fleetwood to North Station (to be known as the “north section”)

In preparation for the start of services on the extension, trams running to timetable are already showing T1 on their destination screens.

Blackpool Transport have said that the introduction of the route letter/number combination is aimed to better inform passengers of which tram to catch for their required journey.

As we’ve reported before a new timetable will be introduced from Sunday 16th June which means that each of the three routes will run every 30 minutes – to give a combined frequency of every 15 minutes from Fleetwood to North Pier/Talbot Square and from Starr Gate to North Pier/Talbot Square.

That does, however, mean that journeys from north to south and vice versa will only run twice an hour cutting by half the current frequency for popular journeys such as Norbreck to Pleasure Beach. One can only hope that there will be a number of specials running regularly to help move the crowds.

In a move which is probably connected to the reduced journey options Blackpool Transport have confirmed that bus service 1 will now be diverted to serve North Station as well to give connections to Fleetwood and Cleveleys.

Its believed that the planned timetable will require 11 trams (out of 18, which includes 005 out of service but expected back in the near future).

One positive of the new timetable will be an improved evening frequency as the tram every 30 minutes on all routes continues into the evening which does mean there are trams every 15 minutes from each end. The current timetable sees the frequency drop to every 30 minutes post 1800.

011 at Fleetwood Ferry showing the new T1 destination display. Alongside is an electric bus demonstrator which was in Blackpool during early June. This is an Alexander Dennis Enviro 400EV. (Photograph by Michael Morton, 5th June 2024)

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40 Responses to Welcome to T1, T2 and T3 – the new era for the Blackpool Tramway

  1. Andy says:

    So here’s the question… If you miss your T1 to Fleetwood at Starr Gate, when you catch a T2 will you have to pay for a journey to North Station then AGAIN for a journey from North Station to Fleetwood on T3? This would mean you are effectively paying extra for the inconvenience of a trip to the station, even though you didn’t want to go there!

    The number 1 bus is also interesting… Only in Blackpool could they spend millions on a tramway extension then immediately lay on a competing bus!

    • KD says:

      I’m sure I read somewhere that all Single tickets will become the equivalent of the “1 hour” ticket on the buses so – no if your journey involves a change, you won’t be charged again so long as you board the second tram within 60 minutes of the first one.

  2. Andy says:

    They’ve missed a trick with the colour coding too. North Station to Fleetwood could have been brown (Blackpool and Fleetwood co), North Station to Starr Gate red (Original Corporation) and Starr Gate to Fleetwood green (corporation colours post 1933 and well after the B&F takeover)

  3. Jonathan Jarvis says:

    The original proposal for the extension is still on the Blackpool Council website and you can read it at https://democracy.blackpool.gov.uk/documents/s31183/Appendix%207a%20-
    To quote: “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”.

    The new timetable obviously falls way short of that vision. What is being provided now is basically to share the existing promenade service resources between the three services, leaving the promenade with a hopeless 30 minute interval. And it’s hard to see that a 30 minute frequency will be attractive to passengers using North Station.

    It is true that the new timetable will give extra frequency at Fleetwood in the evenings but this is not where the traffic is offering. The need for frequency is during the day in the central section, where even a 15 minute service is barely adequate, especially given the many buggies, wheelchairs, etc now using the trams. Let us indeed hope that specials will be run.

    • Andrew says:

      I’m pleased that someone has posted these quotes to show what was promised. Those who gave the £20 million plus to finance the construction of this extension have every right to question the abysmal level of service now being offered – surely if this had been in the original plan there is no way funding would ever have been awarded, especially if the poor service being supplemented by buses had been mentioned! I really do believe the Blackpool tramway needs to be handed over to a new operator, it isn’t doing justice to the people of Blackpool or visitors anymore, with or without the extension.

  4. KD says:

    Looking at the timetables in detail, all the usual hyper-critics have fixated on the frequency, but I see three far more fundamental issues that are legitimate cause for complaint that have seemingly been overlooked:
    1. The southbound service pattern between Talbot Square and Starr Gate isn’t every 15 minutes – the T2 runs just 5 minutes ahead of the T1 giving a 25/5/25/5 minute pattern!
    2. Running times between Starr Gate and Fleetwood is extended from the present 58 minute daytime / 54 minute evening to 65 minutes at all times – the slowest since 2008.
    3. the Last tram to Fleetwood is 15 minutes earlier than now (23:00 from SG / 23:19 from North Pier vs 23:15 SG / 23:32 NP now) and no reintroduction of the Extra-Late Friday/Saturday Journey that was in every summer timetable up to 2019 at either 23:30 or 23:45 from SG.

    Normally I’m in the moderates camp with no axe to grind and will give credit where it’s due, but this time who ever wrote this timetable gets no support from me at all.

    • Ian says:

      Surly someone at Blackpool Transport must be aware of the shortcomings in the southbound timetable and doing something about it

  5. phil lange says:

    whilst the attempt at a 15 minute frequency is commendable the connections for through passengers (Fleeetwood to stargate) is very ordinary southbound and results in 2 services 5 minutes apart south of north pier and then a 25 break. could do a lot better I think with running supplementary services via the station to connect into the full 15 min service rather than attempt to replace it with the north station “diversions”.

  6. Ian Clark says:

    The basic problem in introducing the North Station extension lies in scheduling staff duties from the end of the line, at Starr Gate. Whilst it may be possible to run 2 round trips Starr Gate – Fleetwood as half of a shift before relief, it will be unacceptable to staff to run 2 round trips incorporating 4 North Station legs due to the additional time involved. It would be much more efficient to schedule staff reliefs from an intermediate point en route, either from a Town Centre office near North Station or from Rigby Road at Manchester Square. Introducing an intermediate staff relief point would enable the timetable to be rewritten with ALL journeys operating end to end and via North Station. The unsatisactory timetable being introduced is a problem that should have been forseen and addressed rather than being boxed around to fit within current staffing constraints.

  7. Geoff Currie says:

    I have been a Tram supporter/enthusiast for well over sixty years, but I see the main problem with this Talbot Road extension is building it all!

  8. Ian says:

    There is another fundamental issue. Blackpool do not have enough flexity’s to run a 10 min frequency service throughout.

    To run each of T1, T2 & T3 every 20 minutes on a co-ordinated even headway timetable requires 17 trams. Yes Blackpool do have 18 flexity’s but how often are they all available for service.

    My calculation is based on the timings in the new timetable. There would be a 10 min (approx) turnround time at both Starr Gate & Fleetwood. Each T2 arriving at Blackpool North would continue as a T3 10 minutes later. In the same way T3’s would continue as T2’s. This arrangement means all crew changes can be at the depot.

    This issue cannot be quickly or cheaply resolved unless B fleet trams are in daily use.

    • Harvey says:

      Doesn’t a 10 minute frequency only require 16 trams to run it? Where does the 17th Tram come into the equation?

      • KD says:

        Last time there was a 10 minute Starr Gate – Fleetwood service (summer 2019) it required 13 trams.
        The service from tomorrow sees increased running times so that would be 1 more required, before you add on the extras for N Station.
        It could probably be done with 16 if the routes were efficiently interworked, but as far as I can work out, it looks like the three routes are worked completely independently so you have increased stand times at the termini – T1 gets a full 15 minutes at Starr Gate, T3 gets 15 mins at N Station so you always have at least one tram going nowhere.

        • Ian says:

          Yes it can be done with 16 trams and only a five minute layover at Fleetwood Ferry and Starr Gate. With variable traffic conditions and loadings five minutes is simply not enough layover time.

          16 flexity’s in service daily would be difficult to acheive over a sustained period of time

        • Harvey says:

          Who ever has written the “New and Improved” (it might be New but it’s definitley not an Improvement) timetable, is so short sighted and they are incapable of writing a full timetable that accounts for seasonal demand.

          I’d strongly suggest that Blackpool Transport sack the person responsible for this.

          It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the height of the summer Holidays, or even during the illuminations when Blackpool is at it’s highest tourist capacity.

          I’d imagine that 2 trams within 5 minutes followed by a 25 minute wait for the next one will be enough to put many would be passengers off from taking the Tram and they’ll either Walk or get a Bus or Taxi instead

  9. Andy says:

    Last week I walked from North Pier to North Station. Walking slowly (and stopping to admire a couple of old K6 phone boxes along the way) it took 5 minutes. So can anyone explain to me why someone at BT thinks anyone might wait up to 30 minutes for a tram when they can walk to the prom in a sixth of the time? £20,000,000 would have bought a nice fleet of replica ‘gondola’ buses that could have run up Talbot Road and would have been of use elsewhere too. There’s a reason this route closed 80 years ago… It’s because it was pointless!

  10. Jack Gledhill says:

    Blackpool Transport state that the cost of a tram journey to and from North Station will be £3.20 whatever the distance!This means that the 5 minute walk between North Station and North Pier for a couple will cost £6.40p!Flexity 2 trams can carry 220 passengers.I believe there is a distinct possibility they may NOT BE FULL!Is this the FINAL nail in the coffin?

    • KD says:

      Fleetwood Ferry to Victoria Street Fleetwood is even shorter and costs exactly the same flat fare, so by your logic, trams should all terminate at Victoria St and not serve the Ferry…
      In reality, (unless they are residents of the Metropole Immigration Hostel making a bid for freedom) the chances of a journey being just N Pier to N Station is minimal. Almost all journeys will be to/from somewhere further afield and (whether direct or by transfer) will cost the same flat fare.

      • Kev 1 says:

        KD, you make valid points, but you forget that Jack is obviously more concerned about keeping the taxis in business than trams. You have to begin to wonder if he has financial interests in taxis with the way he is so strongly against the North Station extension.

        • Jack Gledhill says:

          Kev 1
          My view has nothing to do with anything related to taxis!
          I’ve stated in previous letters that Blackpool has possibly the best tram route in the country on the promenade due to basically no other traffic issues.The totally unnecessary extension has absolutely nothing going for it at all and will cause massive disruption and congestion to a town which is already notorious for horrendous traffic issues in and all round the Talbot Road and Talbot Square area for which numerous ideas have been tried and failed.Too much traffic for roads which were never designed to take that amount of traffic.Always was and is a BAD IDEA.
          Who is going to use the extension in winter?

          • Paul says:

            If the traffic is so bad, surely the solution is to get more people out of cars (including taxis) and onto public mass transit… Something like a tram maybe that can carry over 100 people in the same road space as 8 cars…
            If only someone had the foresight to build a tramway heading inland from the Prom… 🙂

        • TD says:

          At last! Someone who realises that the taxi operators and their families and friends, are the ones making the most noise about this. It’s here, live with it.

  11. Mike Belshaw says:

    Surely the idea was to provide an integrated transport link to and from trains at North Station, benefiting both visitors and locals. As it happens, it’s also rather handy for the Sainsbury’s superstore. To compare it with the old Talbot Road route makes no sense. And were not the widened Balloons intended to supplement the Flexities, so a 10minute service on all three routes is possible, provided enough crews were available. But another option might be to run the regular Fleetwood service to the station, the main promenade service terminating at Little Bispham and a one tram shuttle from North station to Starr Gate using a widened Balloon!

  12. Jack Gledhill says:

    Blackpool Transport.
    Unfortunately due to staffing levels we will no be able to operate the following tram service today 07.43-10.14 and10.30-11.38!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Are heads due to roll?

    • Kev says:

      Jack, you know public transport all over the country has massive staffing issues so its not only Blackpool?
      It’s just unfortunate it hit the first day (a cynical person might say this was deliberate………)

      • Jack Gledhill says:

        Kev,I think you must be in denial!
        Do you really think that in thirteen years since this abomination was planned a shortage of staff had not been addressed years in advance?Are the public supposed to believe this nonsense?

        • Steve Hyde says:

          I’m sorry Jack but Kev is right. Public transport operators countrywide are struggling to recruit staff to cover planned services. The bus operators here in Greater Manchester are continually advertising on buses for driving staff and some are having to cancel services. Train operators here in the northwest are running reduced services due to staff shortages and training backlogs. Blackpool Transport Services will have prepared staffing levels for the new service but if their recruitment drives fail to attract sufficient numbers they are in a difficult position. It’s no use you keep proclaiming your repeated doom and gloom stories which I frankly find boring.

          • Jack Gledhill says:

            Would you agree that with what appears to be the actual tramway timetable for both the existing route and the new extension is woefully inadequate and this would seem to indicate that both of the above routes would entail significant losses and that the only way that trams being sustainable in Blackpool would be to axe the extension immediately and to re-instate the original Blackpool to Fleetwood route to the original summer timetable which has worked fine for several years?What would your solution be?

        • Mike H says:

          Don’t know if you noticed Jack, but a little thing called COVID a couple of years ago wreaked havoc with staffing across many industries and transport in particular still has ongoing issues. You are deluded if you think BT are somehow immune to industry wide problems.

          • Jack Gledhill says:

            Mike H.
            A short while ago ,long after Covid the existing tramway was running the normal high season schedule of 6 trams per hour.This was slimmed down to five per hour and eventually to four per hour.NO explanation was given!
            This would seem to indicate that there was now a 33% excess of tramway staff!Were they all sacked?How can there be staff shortages when AT THE TIME(Stop laughing please)the extension was almost ready for opening.

          • Mike H says:

            the only time since November 2019 a ten minute service has been advertised is on illumination evenings with 3 or 4 per hour as Little Bispham shorts and only 2/3 through to Fleetwood.
            And that’s advertised, not all journeys necessarily ran due to the same on going staff issues.
            It becomes a choice between advertise 4 per hour and run that reliably plus extras when you can, or advertise 6 per hour and miss trips if staff are sick then get slated for unreliability.

            By the way, there was a B Fleet extra running yesterday afternoon, Pleasure Beach – North Pier, connecting with T3 to/from Fleetwood.

          • Harvey says:


            Have you got any evidence for the 10 minute frequency of Services returning after Covid? (Outside of the Summer Holiday/Illuminations peak?)

        • Kev says:

          Jack – I’m not the one in denial. Anyone who thinks public transport isn’t up the proverbial creek needs to go and use it more! All operators across the board are cancelling services and struggling to recruit. BTS are not good payers which doesn’t help either! But you simply cannot magic staff from thin air.

          • Jack Gledhill says:

            I think we will have to agree to disagree or maybe YOU can answer the question I enquired from MIKE H as to where the staff disappeared to when services were cut by 33%!

  13. Steve Hyde says:

    Jack as I cannot reply directly to your question regarding axing the extension I am placing my reply here. I do not agree that axing the North Station line is the solution to providing an decent through service no. As you yourself state that core service was in decline prior to the new line opening. As a number of correspondents have said staffing is a likely cause and you seem unable to see that. Over the past couple of years all local public transport operators have seen a drift in staff leaving driving jobs in particular for positions lorry driving which is better paid and more attractive to many. Shortages in the haulage industry have increased this movement and made recruitment for bus and tram drivers more difficult.

  14. Kev says:

    Jack – as I don’t work for Blackpool transport I can’t answer where the staff have gone, you just don’t seem to be able to grasp the fact they aren’t there. Do you live in Blackpool? Do you use the buses and trams? In fact do you use public transport? If so you would know how desperate the situation is country wide.

    • Jack Gledhill says:

      I’m 86 years old born,bred lived and worked all round the Blackpool area all my life apart from 3 years in the Forces.I DO use buses and trams.As Blackpool is the busiest resort in the country we have far more parking/congestion issues than possibly any town in the Country.All seaside resorts have these issues for the simple reason we only have three ways in and out of town unless your on a boat!
      Many years ago the Council decided to pedestrianise several streets in the town centre thus making driving /parking infinitely worse!Numerous traffic schemes have been tried over the years, all were failures.I have no idea myself how to solve our problems but what I DO KNOW is not to come up with crazy schemes which will only compound the issues!I KNOW Blackpool KEV.Incidently who is going to dash down to the promenade to use the extension in winter.

  15. Kev says:

    A B fleet ran starr gate to Tower not North pier – why? totally pointless, people don’t want a connection they want through trams!

    • Harvey says:

      I do agree with that point. Any additional Specials should be really running to Bispham or Little Bispham.

      Although there is the 5/25 minute gap on the Southbound stops between North Pier and Star Gate so I have a feeling that it was to primarily fill that 25 minute gap.

    • Mark says:

      Because of the signalling for the junction, you can no longer run to North Pier northbound platform then run back to the crossover to reach the southbound North Pier platform. Tower therefore becomes the last northbound platform that can be served, unless you run all the way to Cabin to terminate and crossover. While a through trip to Cabin might have been preferable from some perspectives, it would not have been possible in a one-hour round trip.

      As it was, 718 was much busier Southbound, probably because it was running 15 mins after T1, 10 ahead of T2 whereas northbound was 10 after T1, 5 ahead of T2 so it was effective at plugging the big southbound gaps.

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