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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 2018

Tram of the Year: And the winners are...

To be fair it was always likely to be a case of how big the win would be in the British Trams Online Tram of the Year 2018 and so it turned out with the Manx Electric Railway winning three of four categories (indeed the only categories it qualified for!) whilst the other award saw a retention of sorts with a second Stagecoach Supertram Tram-Train securing the most votes.

On the traditional side of things 2018 was a year which was dominated by the Manx Electric Railway and so it turned out in the voting for Tram of the Year. Ratchet Car 14 – which only returned to action in September after a three-and-a-half-year restoration, a restoration which was completed not only be staff from Isle of Man Railways but also a team of dedicated volunteers, was far and away the most popular tram with voters with its winning margin being one of the largest we have seen since the contest began. Birkenhead 20 came in a distant second place whilst the list was completed by two Blackpool cars – Standard 147 and Rack 2, an incredibly rare position for Blackpool which has traditionally dominated this category in one form or another over the years.

The Modern Tram of the Year was Stagecoach Supertram 399 203 which won almost 64% of the total votes, thanks to it starting off the Tram-Train services to Rotherham Parkgate in October. This was a retention of sorts as 2017 has seen sister Citylink vehicle 399 202 walk away with the accolade. The second tram in the list was the first battery fitted tram on West Midlands Metro, no, 18.

The other two categories were also dominated by the Manx Electric Railway with both of them seeing big victories. On the Tramway of the Year front almost 82% of voters thought the MER had the best ahead of Stagecoach Supertram and first time nominee Luas whilst Event of the Year was the Manx Electric Railway 125th Anniversary week. This now means that for five of the six years of this category the event which has won has been linked to an anniversary! With over 77% of you voting for this incredible week of events it meant that Crich’s Simply Trams event came into second with the Doors Open event at Gogar Depot in Edinburgh taking the bronze.

And so another Tram of the Year is over – the fifteenth! – and we are sure you agree that they are all worthy winners. The symbolic trophy of the main Tram (Traditional) of the Year award remains on the Isle of Man for the second year in a row – will anything elsewhere in the British Isles see it heading off the island in 2019? We’ve got a lot of time to think about that and with plans for a number of trams to return to service at various places this year there are bound to be plenty of trams, tramways and events vying for the honours once again. Nominations will open again towards the end of November 2019 – don’t forget to keep a note of anything you think may be suitable for the shortlist!

Tram of the Year: The Results

Tram (Traditional) of the Year

1. Manx Electric Railway 14 – 288 votes (67.45%)
2. Birkenhead 20 – 76 votes (14.05%)
3. Blackpool Standard 147 – 53 votes (12.41%)
4. Blackpool & Fleetwood Rack 2 – 26 votes (6.09%)

106 votes rejected due to multiple votes (caused no change to ranking)

Tram (Modern) of the Year

1. Stagecoach Supertram 399 203 – 203 votes (63.64%)
2. West Midlands Metro 18 – 116 votes (36.36%)

61 votes rejected due to multiple votes (caused no change to ranking)

Tramway of the Year

1. Manx Electric Railway – 338 votes (81.84%)
2. Stagecoach Supertram – 52 votes (12.59%)
3. Luas – 23 votes (5.57%)

103 votes rejected due to multiple votes (caused no change to ranking)

Event of the Year

1. Manx Electric Railway 125th Anniversary – 325 votes (77.38%)
2. Crich Tramway Village: Simply Trams – 65 votes (15.48%)
3. Edinburgh Trams: Doors Open Day at Gogar Depot – 30 votes (7.14%)

104 votes rejected due to multiple votes (caused no change to ranking)

Tram of the Year (traditional): The Shortlist

Birkenhead 20
It would be fair to say that the 16 month loan of Birkenhead 20 didn’t exactly go according to plan but after the delay in receiving workshop attention the tram did eventually enter service at the end of October. Despite only being used on five separate occasions – including a farewell tour for British Trams Online on 7th November – the site of the four wheel open topper on Blackpool Prom was one of the highlights of the year.

Blackpool Standard 147
Having missed the whole of the 2017 season, Blackpool Standard 147 finally returned to service on 31st March 2018. The tram was looking as good as news following extensive attention in the workshops at Rigby Road – including a full repaint into a livery not seen for many years featuring the Blackpool Corporation wording between decks. After its return 147 saw extensive use throughout the season proving popular in the absence of too many open trams.

Blackpool & Fleetwood Rack 2
It may have been a tram which only ran on one day during the year but the sight of Blackpool & Fleetwood Rack 2 running once again at Crich was a sight to behold! The tram was resurrected for use at the Simply Trams event on 1st September which was celebrating birthdays and anniversaries with this tram – and indeed its tramway – reaching the key milestone of 120 years.

Manx Electric Railway 14
The return of a Ratchet Car to service on the Manx Electric Railway was one of the highlights of the 125th anniversary of the line. No. 14 was officially launched back into service on Monday 3rd September after a three and a half year restoration by both paid Isle of Man Railway staff and volunteers – showing excellent collaboration to get the tram back out onto the line. The car had last run in 1978 so this was its first passenger use in over 40 years and many thousands of photos were taken upon its return. Limited use followed mainly during the MER 125 events but the Ratchet Car is certainly back!

Tram of the Year (modern): The Shortlist

Stagecoach Supertram 399 203
Another major milestone in UK tram history was reached on 25th October with the start of the Tram-Train pilot between Sheffield and Rotherham. Several Citylink Tram-Trains have laid claim to being the first to run to Rotherham Parkgate but the nomination goes to 399 203 which was the vehicle to be used on the first public trip from Cathedral.

West Midlands Metro 18
On Friday 20th April the very first battery fitted tram entered service on Midland Metro (as was, West Midlands Metro now of course!) following the conclusion of an extensive testing period - that tram was 18. The tram had run a special private trip for councillors and other local dignitaries on 1st March but this was to be its first public runs. There may have been a few reliability problems with the battery trams since this date but the significance of the entry into service of the first battery tram cannot be overlooked.

Tramway of the Year: The Shortlist

Saturday 9th December 2017 (just missing last year’s awards!) saw the opening of the Cross City line in Dublin which was an extension of the Green Line – a major expansion of the Luas system. There is no doubt there were teething problems in the introduction of the service with higher than expected passenger numbers and tram availability leading to a reduction in service but after these problems were solved the line has fallen in line with the rest of the system to provide a reliable transport network for the Irish capital.

Manx Electric Railway
Marking 125 years of operation with a week long special event has helped to gain this nomination for the MER but that is not the only reason! A few years ago the line was in doldrums but over the past few years more trams and trailers have returned to service and passenger numbers continue to rapidly increase, thanks in no small part to the cruise market on the island.

Stagecoach Supertram
The opening of the Tram-Train extension to Rotherham Parkgate may have started with a collision (with a lorry hitting a tram-train) but this does not take away from the significance of the very first extension to the Supertram network since it opened in mid-1990s. There have been some issues with major rail replacement works leading to large chunks of the system closed at times and there were also some strikes but despite that the network makes the list in 2018.

Event of the Year: The Shortlist

Crich Tramway Village - Simply Trams
Taking place on 1st September the annual enthusiasts event at Crich saw the usual mix of an intensive tram service and unique photographic opportunities. With the theme of Anniversaries and Birthdays one of the highlights was the resurrection for one day only of Blackpool & Fleetwood Rack 2 with Prague 180 and Douglas Marine Head 1 amongst those put on display.

Edinburgh Trams - Doors Open at Gogar Depot
For the first time ever the general public were able to nose around Edinburgh Trams’ Gogar Depot as part of the wider Open Doors event taking place across Scotland on 29th September 2018. With free tickets available for the tours soon sold out with participants able to see inside the workshops and take a tram ride around the depot confines as well as receiving a free hi-vis jacket!

Manx Electric Railway 125th Anniversary
An eight day spectacular on the Isle of Man held between 1st and 8th September with so many highlights. With 14 motors, 12 passengers trailers, 2 vans, 2 wagons and a tower wagon taking part in a MER cavalcade, the relaunch into service of Ratchet Car 14, a spectacular Crossbench evening and the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway Cavalcade amongst the highlights there was so much to see and do!

Previous Contests


Tramcar - Douglas Bay Horse Tramway 36
LRV - Stagecoach Supertram 399 202
Tramway - Statfold Barn Railway
Event - Statfold Barn Railway: Burton & Ashby 14 launch


Tramcar - Blackpool Marton 31
LRV - Manchester Metrolink 3120
Tramway - Douglas Bay Horse Tramway
Event - Douglas Bay Horse Tramway: 140th Anniversary


Tramcar - Liverpool 245
LRV - Manchester Metrolink 3100
Tramway - Blackpool Tramway
Event - Blackpool Tramway: 130th Anniversary


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 13th January 2019

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