As the main 2012 season kicks in for many of the UK’s traditional tramways, the amount of interest is also on the increase. Two trams made historic debuts in new homes – one permanent, one temporary – in the week leading up to Easter, whilst two of Blackpool’s traditional tram fleet also appeared on the main line for the first time in 2012.
Probably the most exciting event to take place on Monday 2nd April took place at Beamish Museum. Having only arrived from Birkenhead on Friday 29th March, no time was wasted in preparing Birkenhead 20 for use on the Beamish tramway. After succesful testing and crew training had taken place in the days following its arrival, 20 then made its passenger debut in service at the Museum on April 2nd. The tram is staying at Beamish for approximately one month and is sure to prove popular there. Hopefully the good weather we have enjoyed recently will continue and allow Birkenhead 20 to see plenty of use, alongside resident open-top double-deckers, Blackpool 31 and Newcastle 114, which co-incidentally all date from 1901.
Meanwhile in Blackpool, another of the Flexity2 class was operating for the first time. This time it was 010 making its first appearance since delivery on the second day of the ‘ghost service’, and the car has already received full branding. This leaves just 002 and 009 running without their external vinyls, whilst 011 has not yet run. Hopefully all three trams will be complete later this week to give a good number of trams available for service.
Of more interest to enthusiasts however, was the use of three older trams on April 2nd. Of these, mofified Balloon car 707 was noted out for the first time this year, although the reason for its outing is not known as none of the rebuilt Balloons are expected to be required over the Easter holiday period. This day also saw heritage trams introduced into the ‘ghost service’ giving the first impression of how mixing old and new vehicles will work in practice. The illuminated Trawler 737 was chosen for this role and shuttled between Pleasure Beach and Little Bispham all day, this being its first outing since the 2011 illuminations. Standard 147 also came out later in the day to replicate the level of service that is planned for weekends during the early part of the season. Hopefully this experiment was succesful as the next time this number of trams are out, it is likely that they will be carrying passengers as the tramway re-opens fully on Wednedsay 4th April, with heritage tram tours expected to commence operation two days later.