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About the Tram of the Year

Conceived as a bit of fun at the end of the year the British Trams Online Tram of the Year originally sought to find the tramcar which had done something "special" over the previous 12 months. There has never been a full definition of what "special" actually means in this case but over the years tramcars which have won have had a repaint, entered service after a repaint or gone on loan away from their home tramway to name but there examples.

In 2012 the contest was expanded to include two new categories - Event of the Year and Tramway of the Year - and then in 2014 a fourth category was voted for the first time - Light Rail Vehicle of the Year.

At the end of November each year nominations are opened for a week to allow anyone to put forward suggestions for each of the categories before our "expert panel" (which is probably neither expert nor a panel!) convene to make a decision of what should be on the final shortlist, with each category normally having around five items to vote on. Voting takes place for approximately six weeks from the start of December until mid January and we then name the lucky winners.

British Trams Online Tram of the Year 2015

And the winners are...

For the first time since 2006 (and for only the third time in 13 years) the winner of Tramcar (Traditional) of the Year is a tram which has never even set foot in Blackpool with Liverpool 245 receiving the most votes. Over 40% of those who voted in this category thought that the fact that 245 was finally relaunched into service at the Birkenhead Heritage Tramway after an extensive restoration meant it deserved the accolade and who can argue with the achievements of the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Trust in getting the Baby Grand back to the rails? In winning the award not only is 245 a rare winner from outside Blackpool it is also the second tram to not only come from Liverpool but also to be based at Birkenhead to be voted in as Tramcar (Traditional of the Year). Second place went to Blackpool Balloon 715 (22%) with Hull 96 (13%) completing the top three but in truth 245 took an early lead and never looked like being caught.

For only the second time we also anointed Tramcar (Modern) of the Year and for the second time this award went to Manchester Metrolink. Whereas the 2014 award went to T68 1007 which had just entered preservation this time around it was a much newer tram which received the most votes – the historically important M5000 3100. Over 55% of you who voted in this category thought that 3100 was the most deserving of the award with Nottingham Express Transit’s 230 (27%) coming in second and Midland Metro’s 29 was third (16%).

Tramway of the Year was another category which didn’t see much of a contest with a huge winning margin for the Blackpool Tramway – which is surpisignly the first time that Blackpool has won this award in the fourth year of it being voted for. Almost 65% of those of you who voted in this category considered the Blackpool Tramway as the best tramway in 2015. Although mainly nominated the success of the heritage service the main light rail service also saw a major improvement making Blackpool a true all rounder in 2015. Nottingham Express Transit came in second place (20% of the vote) with the Black Country Living Museum taking third place (15%).

The final award of the contest also went to Blackpool in another category which saw a runaway leader. The best Event of the Year according to the voters was the Blackpool 130th Anniversary weekend in late September which saw everything which could run from the heritage fleet doing so and the chance to see behind the scenes at Rigby Road and Starr Gate Depots. Almost 54% of votes went to this event which was a true spectacle to behold. One of the closest fights was in this category between second and third place with Heaton Park’s launch of Blackpool Railcoach 280 (19%) eventually beating Crich Tramway Village’s TMS 60 event (18%) by just seven votes.

So there we have it the British Trams Online Tram of the Year 2015 contest is over and we have four more winners to bask in the glory for 12 months. Don’t forget to keep your thinking caps on throughout this year for the 2016 contest – nominations open in November!! Thank you to everyone who voted and congratulations to Liverpool 245, Manchester Metrolink 3100, Blackpool Tramway and the Blackpool Tramway 130th Anniversary event.


Tramcar (Traditional) of the Year

1. Liverpool 245 – 192 votes (41.74%)
2. Blackpool Balloon 715 – 104 votes (22.61%)
3. Hull 96 – 64 votes (13.91%)
4. Blackpool Railcoach 680 – 43 votes (9.35%)
5. Burton & Ashby 14 – 38 votes (8.26%)
6. London County Council 106 – 19 votes (4.13%)

70 votes rejected due to multiple voting (caused no change to ranking)

Tramcar (Modern) of the Year

1. Manchester Metrolink 3100 – 224 votes (56.85%)
2. Nottingham Express Transit 230 – 107 votes (27.16%)
3. Midland Metro 29 – 63 votes (15.99%)

56 votes rejected due to multiple voting (caused no change to ranking)

Tramway of the Year

1. Blackpool Tramway – 266 votes (64.72%)
2. Nottingham Express Transit – 83 votes (20.19%)
3. Black Country Living Museum – 62 votes (15.09%)

68 votes rejected due to multiple voting (caused no change to ranking)

Event of the Year

1. Blackpool 130th Anniversary – 224 votes (53.85%)
2. Heaton Park Tramway: Blackpool 280 launch – 82 votes (19.71%)
3. Crich Tramway Village: TMS 60 – 75 votes (18.03%)
4. Crich Tramway Village: Starlight Spectacular – 24 votes (5.77%)
5. Blackpool: Totally (No) Transport – 11 votes (2.64%)

60 votes rejected due to multiple voting (caused no change to ranking)

Tramcar of the Year (traditional): The Shortlist

Blackpool Railcoach 680
The third tram in recent years to operate on three tramways in the same year but with added changes! Starting off the year as 280 in a cream livery at Beamish the tram then went to its new home tramway at Heaton Park Tramway where it operated for a limited period before withdrawal for repainting into the 1990s Green and Cream livery. Once this repaint was completed it was back onto a low loader for the trip across to Blackpool where it started a two year loan period over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Blackpool Balloon 715
The comeback king of 2015 Balloon 715 returned to service for the first time since 2011 over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend - and in a gleaming coat of 1990s Green and Cream to boot. The tram became a reliable and regular member of the heritage fleet in Blackpool throughout the season and even became the first of the heritage fleet to carry adverts when it received between deck adverts for Fleetwood Tram Sunday.

Burton and Ashby 14
Normally trams nominated in this category have been so because they have re-entered service after a period out of use but Burton and Ashby 14 hasn't turned a wheel in anger at all during the past 12 months - or indeed for many years previous. This tram may not have run in service but thanks to the determination of a group of individuals it has made the return journey from Detroit where it had been for over 30 years and was now in a semi-derelict condition following the closure of its tramline. In doing so it has become only the second tram which had made the US as its permanent home to return and who knows may well pave the way for more to come back to the UK? 14 can now be found at the Statfold Barn Railway where it is currently on display with consideration being given to a small running line to allow it to stretch its legs once again.

Hull 96
The last time this tram was seen in service it was running as Leeds 6 in a drab grey livery but in October 2015 after a lengthy restoration by a small group of enthusiasts the tram was relaunched into service as Hull 96. Looking resplendent in a full Hull Corporation Tramways livery 96 has now settled back into the operating fleet at the Heaton Park Tramway adding another vital winter car to the serviceable trams.

Liverpool 245
The will it, won't it sage of Liverpool 245 finally came to an end in September 2015 when the first time in 58 years (give or take a couple of days) a Baby Grand operated on the streets of Merseyside. The tram first arrived in Birkenhead in 2006 with full funding for the restoration following in 2010 and in the five years since then a full and comprehensive restoration has taken place. There was the aborted launch during 2014 after faults were found with the tram but that should not detract too much from the return to service of 245 which has proved to be popular whenever it has run on the Birkenhead Heritage Tramway.

London County Council 106
Having last run in 2010 London County Council 106 was returned to service at the Crich Tramway Village during June after an extensive overhaul in the workshops thanks to funding from the London County Council Tramways Trust. Obviously with it being an open topper rules dictate that it should be a very wet launch event but despite that it has proved to a popular returnee to the operating fleet - who can really resist an open top tram ride? 106 was also part of one of the best tram line-ups seen at the TMS 60 event in September.

Tramcar of the Year (modern): The Shortlist

Manchester Metrolink 3100
Who would have thought a few short years ago that in 2015 we would be celebrating a single tram fleet with 100 members? Well that is exactly what happened when on Saturday 14th June Manchester Metrolink's M5000 3100 arrived at Queen's Road Depot before it entered service later on in the same month. And the expansion of the fleet hasn't stopped there with deliveries continuing on a regular basis with trams up to 3120 on order.

Midland Metro 29
On Saturday 14th November for the first time in 62 years a tram ran on the streets of Birmingham City Centre and that tram was Midland Metro's Urbos 3 29 on the first gauging run of the city centre extension. As the line has not yet opened to the public and the fact that the Queen didn't actually go for a ride when she named a tram earlier this month 29 qualifies for its historic moment.

Nottingham Express Transit 230
Citadis 230 became the first tram to carry passengers on the Nottingham Express Transit Phase Two extensions when it departed Clifton South Park and Ride shortly after 0600 on Tuesday 25th August. 230 beats 231 to the nomination by virtue of departing from its terminus one minute earlier!

Tramway of the Year: The Shortlist

Blackpool Tramway
It would be fair to say that 2014 was a challenging year for the Blackpool Tramway, no more so than during the October Half Term week when the perceived poor service was picked up by the local press. But fast forward 12 months and the tramway has moved on so much both with the normal timetabled service and also the increased heritage tram service. The increased use of B-fleet Balloons on specials, particularly during the Illuminations, and an impressive frequency on the normal service during busy periods have helped an increase in passenger numbers after the worrying decrease in 2014. And then there is the heritage service which has once again be revitalised with daily operation during the main summer season and weekends at other times between Easter and November all helped by a new volunteer workforce.

Black Country Living Museum
In late 2012 the tramway at the Black Country Living Museum closed with no date set for its return leading to fears that the 3'6" gauge line would not run again. But in July and September 2015 these fears proved to be misplaced with the tramway opening in two stages with workhorse Wolverhampton & District 34 continuing to provide thee service and with Dudley & Stourbridge 5's return also on the cards in the future. 25th August saw the major expansion of Nottingham Express Transit when the Phase Two extensions opened all together. Running through to Toton and Clifton South the lines have almost doubled the length of the system and despite the eight month delay in the opening they have proved once again that tramways are back in the UK and are here to stay!

Event of the Year: The Shortlist

Blackpool - Totally (No) Transport
OK Totally Transport was cancelled but that did not stop Blackpool's heritage tram service from continuing to operate the length of the tramway with the most trips on one day from Starr Gate to Fleetwood by far since the upgraded tramway opened in 2012. Six trams operated during the day - all in green and cream - and all ran through to Fleetwood showing once again how Blackpool can put on a tramway show.

Blackpool 130th Anniversary Weekend
With the Blackpool Tramway celebrating its 130th anniversary in 2015 a special weekend was planned in advance to showcase the heritage fleet. But it wasn't until we approached the end of September that it was known just how special the weekend would be. Every single operating member of the heritage fleet ran over the weekend, there were behind the scenes tours at Rigby Road and Starr Gate depots and withdrawn tram displays were put on outside the former. And the sun even managed to star throughout the weekend which also saw B fleet Balloon 719 at North Pier in use as a shop.

Crich Tramway Village - TMS 60
Another anniversary at Crich with an one day celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Tramway Museum Society. This was also the annual Enthusiast's event with an intensive tram service in operation including the relaunch into service of Liverpool 869 and the return for one day only of Southampton 45. It also had a spectacular photographic line-up of nine open toppers including very rare outside appearances of Hill of Howth 10 and Derby 1.

Crich Tramway Village - Starlight Spectacular
Normally events shortlisted in this category are aimed at enthusiasts' but this nominee was a family orientated event which took place over a week at the Crich Tramway Village. Starlight Spectacular saw the unusual sight of trams running at Crich after dark with special lighting effects across the Museum as well as visiting characters from Disney's Frozen and also Doctor Who. The enthusiast wasn't completed ignored either with Leeds 399 decorated with lights adding significantly to the whole event.

Heaton Park Tramway - Blackpool 280 launch event
Taking place on 26th April this event saw the launch into service at the Heaton Park Tramway of Blackpool 280 following its arrival from Beamish. The event not only saw the tram launched into service with all five Blackpool trams on site featuring including Balloon 702 which made a rare trip to Middleton Road Depot for display with Railgrinder 1 also on display. 702 was also towed along the tramway by Vanguard 619 in a parallel move with 280.

Previous Contests


Tramcar - Blackpool Pantograph 167
LRV - Manchester Metrolink 1007
Tramway - Crich Tramway Village
Event - Crich Tramway Village: Electric 50


Tramcar - Blackpool Boat 227
Tramway - Heaton Park Tramway
Event - Rejuvenation of Blackpool Heritage Service


Tramcar - Blackpool Brush 623
Tramway - Blackpool
Event - Glasgow 50 at Crich


Tramcar - Blackpool Marton VAMBAC 11


Tramcar - Liverpool 762


Tramcar - Blackpool Western Train 733+734


Tramcar - Blackpool Balloon 717


Tramcar - Blackpool Brush 623


Tramcar - Leeds 345


Tramcar - Trampower Tram


Tramcar - Blackpool Illuminated Frigate 736 & Nottingham Express Transit 203 (joint winners)


Tramcar - Leeds 602

This page was last updated on Sunday 17th January 2016

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