More good news for Blackpool’s heritage service

After starting the year on a low with the announcement of budget cuts which threatened to severely dent this year’s operations, the heritage tram service at Blackpool has been the subject of many positive developments recently, with more running days added to the initial events programme and other exciting news, such as the running of vintage trams to Starr Gate for the first time since 2009 in connection with the annual ‘Totally Transport’ event. Now, it has been confirmed that the price of a family day saver ticket for the heritage tours has been reduced in a drive to increase patronage in 2014.

Blackpool Transport have slashed the price of a Heritage Tram Tours family day ticket from £30, to just £20. This ticket can be used by two adults and up to three children, representing excellent value for money for any families wishing to ride on the traditional trams more than once in a day. The tickets are of course also valid on all other normal BTS tram and bus services, so a family can cover a lot of miles for this very modest price! Although this obviously pushes down the company’s profit margin, it is hoped that the number of extra customers that this superb offer will attract can more than compensate for this. This can also be advantageous, as the best possible advert for the service is heritage trams running along the promenade full of happy people.

In other news, more details have emerged regarding the plans for a very special day of heritage tram operation on Sunday 22nd June, in connection with the 2014 ‘Totally Transport’ event. As was widely expected, a temporary ‘heritage’ tram stop will be sited opposite the Solaris building, which is the main hub of the festival, and passengers will be able to board and alight from the trams in both directions. No such facilities will be provided at the Starr Gate terminus, where the cars will simply reverse before heading back north. There is also a possibility that another temporary stop may be added at Pleasure Beach as through cars will not be able to access the loop, where the regular stop is sited. This will certainly provide some unique and enjoyable tram riding and photographic opportunities and should be one of the Blackpool tram highlights of the entire year.

 

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17 Responses to More good news for Blackpool’s heritage service

  1. Ash Tomlinson says:

    Will you be able to stay on the trams whilst they run from Solaris to Starr Gate to crossover and return?

  2. Christopher says:

    Excellent in these difficult times Blackpool Transport continue to reach out and do what they can to allow families to enjoy the fabulous experience of riding heritage cars along the coast. Hopefully this excellent price will help convert people from the lower priced single trips to sample the full experience.

  3. Mick Cahill says:

    They’ll never be full because of the small number of stops. The tramway has always thrived on people jumping on and off between hotels, entertainment destinations, etc. Every less stop – fewer potential passengers. Enthusiasts alone will not make this service viable, as last year testifies.

    • Paul says:

      That is the role of the core Flexity service… It was actually the case last year that the general public were riding the heritage care for the pleasure of a ride frequently asking of tickets to “wherever you are going”…

      There is possibly a case for one more heritage stop on the prom, probably at Central Pier or Tower but that is all.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      Presumably you didn’t visit Blackpool for last year’s August Bank Holiday weekend then, as the Boats were running full to capacity most of the time they were out!

    • Christopher says:

      Last proved beyond any doubt their was a demand. And the public did respond well to it. By the time we got to the August Bank Holiday their was a real sense of momentum. We need to see that momentum carry on.

      Anyone who attended events in 2013 would have seen the vast majority of “normal” punters. Were more than happy to do circular tour. Were not looking to use it to move around Blackpool like you suggest. By august normals were packed to the rafters on them.

      We need to get their ordinary passengers to start to upgrade to the Day Tickets. And hopefully these incredibly attractive and generous Family Price ticket will do just that.

    • Tommy Carr says:

      Technically, three of blackpool’s most popular attractions are near to or have their own stop (North pier, Tower and Pleasure Beach). And the heritage service itself is an attraction.

  4. Frank Gradwell says:

    Frankly – its long overdue that the legal panic about the heritage fleet not being allowed to use current service stops was consigned to the dustbins of history.

    This is Elf n Saphety Panic run wild.

    Designate the heritage fleet tourism and not public transport – allow flat floor access at all stops – we are still largely capable of putting a foot more than six inches in front of the other one are we not? and wheelchair and buggy wheels bridge such a gap with ease. Voila – system wide availability!

    I would love to meet the craven local authority solicitor who bought this restriction line and debate the issue with them – all that is required is a little step of faith!

    There again – we are talking about compliance obsessed cowards, rather than question, compromise, resolve, aren’t we?

    • Joe says:

      I totally agree with what Frank says here. In my opinion the Flexcity downgrade (no, it was NOT an upgrade) was a total waste of time and money and should never have happened. The only legal requirement with regard to wheelchair access is that a service is provided. So the traditional fleet could have run as normal indefinitely with an occasional ramp or lift equipped tram between them to keep the regulators happy. Perhaps a dozen rigid super low floor trams should have been bought for the basic Fleetwood service, with all other specials etc being the traditional fleet, which should have been protected as a national monument.

      The idea that LRVs are a legal requirement is a total nonsence, as demonstrated by other public lines that do not just cater for enthusiasts, such as Birkenhed, Great Orme Tramway and Manx Electric Railway.

      Also why was all that money spent on widening Balloons and destroying their appearance when Centenary Cars have been proven to fit perfectly with the modern (and in my opinion pointless) platforms?

      If we really must have platforms, then heritage cars should simply be allowed to stop at every place they exist, but just stop a few feet short, like the traditional fleet has always done when more than one tram reaced a stop.

      I believe the REAL reason the heritage fleet is restricted is because someone would end up with egg on their face if the classic trams were allowed to operate normally as they would carry far more people than the flexities can manage and in much more comfort.

      By the way, I have a large jar full of screws that had unwound themselves from the turntable floor of a flexity during it’s third day in service. If anyone from Bombardier would like them back, please get in touch!

      • Christopher says:

        The Usage figures & Revenue Figures have obliterated this tired argument. God only knows what Bryan L and Co think reading such gibberish. If only people engaged their brain before posting. The lack of understanding and fundamentally flawed concepts uttered on the various transport sites is doing untold damage to the credibility and standing of preservationists. No wonder so few people within the professional transport sector listen to us any more.

        The Old Cars were absolutely knackered with many of them on their last legs literally hobbling towards the LRT era towards the end. Nobody in their right mind accepts the idea that the old trams crew to passenger ratios combined which the significantly higher operating costs were a viable route in the medium to long term for stage travel. Without the upgrade (how anyone can call it a downgrade is beyond me) would have been left with a fleet of tired unreliable cars with advertising plastered all over them. tired interiors. tired infrastructure with the future looking incredibly bleak.

        Its disappointing yet sadly not surprising that these done to death arguments emerge time and time again. But its interesting that it rarely emerges when actually at the location. Those at the events delighted with the way Heritage Interact with the Light Rail era. Allows people to get to A-B Quickly and Cheaply on LRTS whilst Heritage Cars provide the Tourist Experience that so many crave. People have flooded back to the line in their droves. They love the fact they can get their wheelchair / pushchair on with ease. This tramway is not Birkenhead. Its a genuine transport system. Its is not and can never become purely a novelty ride.

        With the LRT revolution allowed BT to actually restore a smaller more manageable collection. Its allowed them to do wonderful things that simply would never have happened in the pre LRT era. Historic Liveries, Restoration Internally of Cars, Major attention improving condition of cars.

        Need our energy directed into ensuring 2014 and going forward is a success. Not bemoaning what we cant have. Lets celebrate what we have.

    • Christopher says:

      Naively people underestimate (myself included) regarding the enormous complexities and legal framework around Heritage Cars operating in perpetuity at Blackpool.

      People are quite possibly correct they could have gotten away with more for the next X Years. But people have to realise this is about building up a stable legal foundation that ensure the cars can operate within the law forever.

      People have worked tirelessly in the background. Their is no simple “quick fix” if was that simple believe me they would have done it.

      People seem to be forgetting how far the Heritage Exemption Order has already developed since its original implementation. Now no longer a prescriptive list of designated cars (limiting the chances of visiting cars and making it difficult to add cars to fleet). The new Order Widely Exempting All Heritage Vehicles.

      Need our energy directed into ensuring 2014 and going forward is a success. Not bemoaning what we cant have. Lets celebrate what we have.

  5. Frank Gradwell says:

    And that is exactly why the legal mumbo jumbo needs exposing for what it is – gold plating of utterly unnecessary regulations by Whitehall, as has happened time without number in the world of transport, applied by local government solicitors who wouldn’t recognise an LRV vehicle from a Balloon if they tried.

    There IS NO legal reason why heritage cars cannot use platforms except that it would indeed prove that the whole Flexxity farce was a job creation scheme for transport planners, consultants and German tram builders, and someone might start asking awkward questions that would lead to managements and politicians having egg all over their faces.

    Its not a simplistic view, its a practical one of actually looking at what the regulations require and addressing them.

    What is required is DDA compliant transport – the platforms tick that box. The relaying of the entire tramway has bought it a future – whatever runs on it.

    The entire 1930s to 1980s fleet could have been modernised for less than five million – that’s two and ahalf Flexxities, and DDA updates applied, so that just as in San Francisco, they could have been ambassadors for Blackpool, and saved twenty seven million pounds, but that is water under the bridge now and the argument isn’t about Flexxities – its about sensible use of the Heritage Fleet

    The Flexxities provide the staple public transport role – they need to, and do tick the DDA box

    That’s it – public transport issues resolved

    Now – the Heritage Fleet

    It isn’t public transport so it doesn’t need to tick the DDA box – but isn’t it easier for the public, especially those with mobility impairments, buggies etc, to board at a facility combining both tram and street platform level, than have heritage cars stopping short at only a number of platforms and passengers having to clamber up from pavement level! Surely that is plain common sense, safer, carries less risk, and would be more revenue friendly than the current practice; and as the issue is getting more bums on seats and ackers into the fare box – better in that respect too!

    Seems common sense to me – but the lawyers say it ain’t so – but who wrote the whole DDA nonsense at a cost of bucketloads of fees in the first place-eh?

  6. Paul says:

    Frank, Joe,

    It is disapointing that every time there is a positive story about the Blackpool Tramway, that the same few ‘names’ seek to twist it to a negative anti-progress stance with hackneyed agruments long since disproven.

    Please join the majority in celebrating that we now have the best of both worlds.

    We have a more frequent, more reliable, more accessible core service for the majority of passengers who simply want to travel from A to B and don’t care what the tram looks like PLUS a diverse Heritage Fleet of vehicles in far better condition than anything on the tramway was 3 years ago, which as last year proved caters for the enthusiast and atracts the general public to ride for pleasure.

    Yes we would all like to see the heritage cars out more often, but support what is currently on offer and be patient. The more support the current arrangement gets, the more likely is it to be enhanced…

    Paul

  7. John Stewart says:

    If the heritage trams stopped at the platforms there would be an unwelcome gap so may I suggest another “grade” of tram to fit between the widened balloons and the “untouched” heritage fleet? Some trams could have carefully-designed and padded projecting steps fitted so that they could use the platforms with full safety. The really old vehicles, that is the pre-streamliners, would be retained as unmodified vehicles on special workings only, accessed from ground level as always. It’s another compromise but it is by compromises that we make progress, not by dogmatism.

  8. Bryan Lindop says:

    My heartfelt thanks to Christopher and Paul…