As expected, it has been confirmed that there will be additional trams operating in Blackpool on illumination tours during the forthcoming school half-term week, commencing from Friday 24th October and running until 2nd November inclusive. This period should see four or five trams in use on tours each evening, although as usual this will be subject to staff availability.
It is hoped to operate four cars nightly during the busy half-term week and this will hopefully increase to five cars on the Friday and Saturday nights. However, the Blackpool Heritage Trust advise that it is impossible to guarantee any set numbers of trams in advance as staffing availability can fluctuate considerably, and naturally providing crews for the core tram service is Blackpool Transport’s top priority. However, the company will do its very best to ensure that enough trams are available to satisfy the anticipated high demand for tours of the illuminations – and indeed it may be possible to run more trams than planned if staff can be mustered!
Generally, a pool of six enclosed cars are now being used for tour duties now that the colder autumn evenings are upon us, these being the three illuminated cars – Western Train 733+734, Frigate 736 and Trawler 737 - as well as Standard 147 and Balloon cars 701 and 717. However, other trams may also appear and the Trust aim to provide advance notice of any more unusual trams appearing via their official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BlackpoolHeritageTramTours?fref=ts Recent weeks have seen one-off outings from the likes of Twin set 272+T2 and even Coronation car 304, so who knows what might happen!?
We would also like to clarify that, despite a reduction in the number of different trams being used on tours on most illumination evenings compared with last year, the actual number of tours being operated has hardly been affected at all. Whereas last year, it was common practice for all three illuminated trams to run with the first back possibly performing a second tour if required, 2014 has generally seen two cars out on weekdays, but with both usually doing two round trips. The outcome is therefore still four tours and has made better use of the available resources, meaning that the month of September was in fact more profitable this year than in 2013. Although there have been times when the absence of some of the illuminated trams has created disappointment for the public, it is essential that operating costs are kept to a minimum and in the long run, this will hopefully have positive repercussions for the heritage fleet, as any increased profit margin will potentially provide more funds for future projects and will help to support the daytime heritage service as well. Some fine tuning may well be implemented but the omens look good and it is hoped that the 2014 illuminations will be viewed in a positive light (pardon the pun!) once they are over.