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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 2019

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

There can be no denying that 2019 was a challenging year for the volunteers at the Heaton Park Tramway with the theft of overhead wires in September bringing a temporary halt to operations but following on from industry help and a resumption in services just a month later they have now been rewarded by readers of British Trams Online with the accolade of Tramway of the Year in the annual Tram of the Year contest. Meanwhile the main “Tram (Traditional) of the Year” remains on the Isle of Man with Manx Electric Railway trailer 54 receiving the most votes with the Manx Heritage Transport Festival also winning in the “Event of the Year” category. The final category – “Tram (Modern) of the Year” saw a tie with Blackpool 001 and Manchester Metrolink 3006 getting exactly the same number of votes.

Just over 60% of votes in the “Tramway of the Year” category went to the Heaton Park Tramway, which whilst not as comprehensive as the 2018 contest when the Manx Electric Railway walked away with over 80% of the vote, was the highest percentage of votes in any of the categories this time around. 2019 was a year for the Heaton Park Tramway which looked as if it would be like any other with three trams operating the service in the park and Manchester 765 spending a period at Beamish whilst work continued on the overhauls of Stockport 5 and Blackpool 619. That was until one night in September when a portion of overhead was stolen. What could have been a huge negative for the volunteer led tramway ended up providing evidence, if it was ever needed, of not only how well respected and valued the tramway is in the enthusiast and local community but also how organisations can come together to make a positive out of a negative. And so it was after support from TfGM and Manchester Metrolink just a month later the new overhead was in place, testing had been completed and trams were running once more. And if that wasn’t enough the tramway then took part in Lightopia in Heaton Park which saw trams running in the dark and carrying full loads most weekends. 2020 will mark the 40th anniversary of the tramway.

For the second year in succession the “Tram (Traditional) of the Year” went to the Manx Electric Railway with trailer 54 gaining just short of 50% of the total votes. With the trailer having last run in 1971, it was returned to service thanks to an overhaul completed by both volunteers and paid Isle of Man Railways staff at the Manx Heritage Transport Festival and proceeded to see regular use for the remainder of the season as well. The two loanee trams of the year – Blackpool & Fleetwood 40 and Manchester 765 – were almost neck and neck in second and third respectively whilst Cambridge Street Tramways 7 completed the top 4. As well as being the second year for the MER to win this award it is the third in a row for the Isle of Man!

Staying with the Isle of Man, and for the second year in a row, the “Event of the Year” heads across the Irish Sea with the Manx Heritage Transport Festival taking just over 49% of the total votes. With the MER again playing centre stage – including the return of three trailers including the aforementioned 54 – the five day spectacular once again proved popular with voters in the awards. Since the “Event of the Year” award was introduced in 2012 this is just the third time that a non-anniversary event has been voted the most popular! August’s Rigby Road Open Day came in second followed by Crich 60 and the Wirral Bus and Tram Show.

It was going to happen sooner or later, the removal of multiple votes making a difference to the final standings, and that is exactly what has happened on “Tram (Modern) of the Year”. The result has seen a tie – the very first tie in this category and first tie since the 2004 “Tram (Traditional) of the Year”! – with both Blackpool 001 and Manchester Metrolink 3006 taking just over 40% of the total vote. With 001 receiving an advert for Blackpool’s Merlin attractions in time for the August Bank Holiday and 3006 becoming the first M5000 on Metrolink to cover a million kilometres they both proved popular with the voters and in the end couldn’t be split! West Midlands Metro 28 – which had been the first tram to carry passengers, albeit VIP ones! – came in third for 2019.

That is it for another year – congratulations to all organisations who have been involved in winning entries for 2019 and thanks to everyone who has voted. Don’t forget to keep a note of anything which could be nominated at the end of this year – nominations should open in November 2020!

Tram of the Year: The Results

Tram (Traditional) of the Year

1. Manx Electric Railway 54 – 266 votes (48.63%)
2. Blackpool & Fleetwood Box 40 – 123 votes (22.49%)
3. Manchester 765 – 117 votes (21.39%)
4. Cambridge Street Tramways 7 – 41 votes (7.50%)

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

Tram (Modern) of the Year

=1. Blackpool 001 – 183 votes (40.13%)
=1. Manchester Metrolink 3006 – 183 votes (40.13%)
3. West Midlands Metro 28 – 90 votes (19.74%)

75 votes rejected due to multiple votes (Blackpool 001 was outright first place beforehand)

Tramway of the Year

1. Heaton Park Tramway – 289 votes (60.71%)
2. Manchester Metrolink – 100 votes (21.01%)
3. Edinburgh Trams – 87 votes (18.28%)

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

Event of the Year

1. Manx Heritage Transport Festival – 251 votes (48.08%)
2. Blackpool Tramway – Rigby Road Depot Open Day – 104 votes (19.92%)
3. Crich Tramway Village – Crich 60 – 95 votes (18.20%)
4. Wirral Bus and Tram Show – 72 votes (13.79%)

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

Votes received from the same IP address are considered a multiple vote. In these cases the first set of votes are accepted with all subsequent votes removed from the final rankings.

Tram of the Year (Traditional): The Shortlist

Blackpool & Fleetwood Box 40
A tram which started off the year in Blackpool before heading to Beamish and then ending up back at the tramway of its owners at Crich it has been a busy year of travelling for Box 40. In running on three separate tramways in the year it becomes the latest tram to do so and has now also now run on four tramways in preservation (Heaton Park being the other).

Cambridge Street Tramways 7
Probably the most unexpected tram on the shortlist this year but that's not to belittle the efforts of the small group of dedicated volunteers who have cosmetically restored the tram at the Ipswich Transport Museum over the past seven years. Recently officially launched 7 now takes pride of place at the museum.

Manchester 765
Another of the tram loans for 2019, 765 made its second trip across to Beamish for the Great North Steam Fair in April and stayed for several months whilst also receiving some workshop attention when in the northeast.

Manx Electric Railway 54
It was 1971 the last time MER trailer 54 ran in public service but after an overhaul completed by both volunteers and paid staff it returned to action during the Manx Heritage Transport Festival on 24th July (along with two other trailers but as they had run as recently as 2009, 54 gets the nod here).

We don't normally explain reasons for not adding a tram to the shortlist but we can't ignore the "elephant in the room" this year - Blackpool Standard 143. It was nominated several times but after consideration the decision was made that although there is no doubt it looks stunning the fact that it failed on its first evening in service precludes it from being included - this year at any rate!

Tram of the Year (Modern): The Shortlist

Blackpool 001
It was back the old days of the Blackpool Tramway over the August Bank Holiday weekend when Flexity2 001 entered service in a new all over advert for attractions in the town. The advert for the various Merlin attractions on the Golden Mile is certainly colourful and adds some variety to the tramway again.

Manchester Metrolink 3006
Its a tram which has remained in service throughout the year, hasn't received a new livery, so what makes Metrolink M5000 3006 worthy of inclusion? Back on 20th March 3006 became the first of the M5000s to clock up a million kilometres - a feat worthy enough of TfGM releasing a press release on the subject!

West Midlands Metro 28
It has been a year of change on the West Midlands Metro with the majority of the fleet receiving a new livery (at least one!) during the year and 28 is no different. But on top of this it became the first Urbos3 to carry passengers on the Birmingham Westside extension - granted they were VIPs - when it was named Jasper Carrott.

Tramway of the Year: The Shortlist

Edinburgh Trams
It was another year of consolidation and increased passenger numbers for Scotland's only modern tramway but the big news for 2019 was the approval of the extension to Newhaven in the early part of the year which will eventually see trams running along Leith Walk.

Heaton Park Tramway
Resilience is a word that has been used a lot to describe this volunteer led tramway in Manchester - which, let's not forget is actually the only preserved tramway in the UK (as in runs on a former tram line). In September they were rocked by the theft of a stretch of overhead line which led them to announce they would be closed indefinitely. Step forward the tramway industry and just a month later services were running again thanks to the support of TfGM and Keolis Amey Metrolink. In a time when it seems everyone disagrees about everything it is heartwarming to see how well thought of this heritage line is and how everyone got together to get it back up and running again.

Manchester Metrolink
A year which has seen the current network not increase in size but even so an improved timetable to Ashton-under-Lyne was introduced at the start of the year. Passenger numbers continue to rise with the tramway by far the most popular of all the UK's on street systems. And 2020 will see more trams start to arrive and another line joining the family.

Event of the Year: The Shortlist

Blackpool - Rigby Road Depot Open Day
An addition to the Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours Gold timetable offering came over the August Bank Holiday when the first fully blown open day at the Rigby Road Depot since 2010. With behind the scenes tours, trams on display plus the chance to turn the trolley on Bolton 66 there was plenty to see and do for both the enthusiast and families.

Crich Tramway Village - Crich 60
A two day event held in September to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the discovery of the site which became the Crich Tramway Village. Taking the format of the usual annual enthusiast event there was an intensive tram service, photographic opportunities (including Leeds and Sheffield line-ups and Gateshead 5 posed along with the Barnsley & District bus). The weekend also saw the return to service of Blackpool & Fleetwood 40.

Manx Heritage Transport Festival
The last few years have seen the trams on the Isle of Man take centre stage at this annual five day event and 2019 was no different. The Manx Electric Railway saw the return to service of not one, not two but three trailers and there were also parallel runs, intensive timetables and behind the scenes tours.

Wirral Bus and Tram Show
Another event which takes place each year but in 2019, for the first time, the Wirral Bus and Tram Show saw five trams in service at the same time, with the usual four tram service between Woodside Ferry and Taylor Street supplemented by the use of Birkenhead 20 on a shuttle from Pacific Road to Woodside Ferry. In addition to the trams there were buses, classic cars and much more for all the family to see and do!

Previous Contests


Tramcar - Manx Electric Railway 14
LRV - Stagecoach Supertram 399 203
Tramway - Manx Electric Railway
Event - Manx Electric Railway 125th anniversary


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 15th November 2020

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