There have been a whole host of noteworthy firsts involving Blackpool’s brand new Flexity2 trams in the past few weeks, but an unwanted first occured on Tuesday 22nd May. For the first time, a member of the class was involved in a collision, with car 014 having an argument with a motor car at one of the remaining tramway/road crossings. This tram had only entered service a few days earlier and is currently the newest tram in Blackpool!
The accident occurred at about 1:00pm on South Strand, near Rossall Square. A Volkswagon polo ran into the path of the approaching tram, which was unable to stop in time. Both vehicles sustained some exterior damage, although inevitably it was the motor car which came off worst, but thankfully nobody was injured. As the junction in question is controlled by traffic lights, which are activated to turn red by the trams’ transponder equipment, presumably the motorist ignored a red light. This makes calls to investigate the safety of the modernised tramway, and this crossing in particular, look like something of an overreaction.
A local resident told the Blackpool Gazette: “people are just going down here too fast”, and added that “people have got used to going straight across” due to the prolonged absence of a tram service in this area due to the upgrade works taking place throughout 2011. Now that the trams are back, some locals have already commented that an accident like this seemed inevitable, with some people trying to blame the trams themselves for being too quiet, meaning that they can sneak up on cars undetected due to restricted viewing of the tramway! However, quite simply, if motorists obey the traffic lights – which is of course the law – then the trams should not pose any threat to drivers.
Bryan Lindop of Blackpool Transport has made a statement to the press, in which he described the road junction as being “safer than it has ever been before”, and explained that the tram had right of way at the time of the accident. However, Steve Clarke, a local Councillor has already stated that he expects more accidents of this nature to follow, although hopefully coverage of this relatively minor incident will act as a warning to other local people who may be more careful when crossing the tram tracks in future.