A highly successful start for Blackpool’s heritage trams

The Blackpool heritage tram tours have started 2015 in fine form, by operating daily over the two-week Easter school holiday period. As reported previously, this included the inauguration of the new green timetable on Good Friday, with four heritage trams in use, followed two days later by the brand new gold timetable featuring six cars. In all, sixteen different traditional trams have already run in passenger service this year which is a higher total than any other UK tramway – Blackpool is definitely back!

After some rather unusual weather conditions over the actual Easter Bank Holiday weekend – thick fog being the dominant feature – things improved greatly in the following week. This allowed the use of Boat cars 227 and 600 on the blue timetable for three consecutive days, shuttling between Pleasure Beach and North Pier, with 600 making its year debut on Wednesday 8th April. Although these short promenade workings may be a bit tedious for the hardcore enthusiasts who regularly patronise the heritage service, for tourists it seems to be a great success, especially with a bargain return ticket available for just £3 for adults. Both trams took good loads of people, particularly on Thursday 9th April. Mention must be made of the impressive efforts made by tram crews to attract extra patronage and hand out leaflets promoting the improved service, with the volunteer guards going the extra mile to ensure that the heritage tours have the best possible chance of success this year. Unfortunately, a small number of people have chosen to belittle their efforts, implying that the trams have been running empty, when in fact takings so far have been very encouraging. It should also be clarified that the heritage fleet are expected to earn their keep and contrary to what some have said, their operation is not financed by the LRT service – so their success is testament to the quality of what is on offer to customers!

So far in 2015, the following trams have operated in public service: Fleetwood Box 40, Bolton 66, Standard 147, Twin set 272+T2, Brush Railcoach 631, ‘Princess Alice’ 706, Centenary cars 642 & 648, Open Boats 227, 230 & 600, and Balloons 700, 701, 711, 717 & 719. Note that Coronation 304 is believed to be unavailable at present, whilst Balloon 715 is set to return to use early next month following workshop attention. Add in the illuminated feature cars, and an enviable number and variety of trams should be running for much of 2015 ensuring plenty of incentive for repeat visits to be made.

On a glorious spring day, Boat 600 arrives at Pleasure Beach whilst operating the blue service. In the background a new building can be seen which has replaced the familiar 'Lucky Star' amusement arcade. (Photo by Bradley Jones)

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7 Responses to A highly successful start for Blackpool’s heritage trams

  1. Ken Walker says:

    The achievements so far this year are amazing and a couple of years ago nobody would have believed that this would ever happen. It’s also good that the ‘B’ fleet are at last being given a chance to stretch their legs, after all these are still basically 1930s vehicles and spending months lying around in sometimes damp conditions will not do them any good, just a pity that they are in the LRT livery but that is due to rheir original intended purpose. Well done to all concerned.
    I now await Franklyn’s antidote to the positive comments!

    • Christopher Callan says:

      Think its worth noting that the original intended purpose has not been consigned to history. The trial in February demonstrates they certainly not given up giving them a role augmenting LRT service. Giving them airing whilst “on loan” certainly useful like you say though.

      Echo your other comments.

  2. Simon Potter says:

    Does anybody know how many £3 tickets need to be sold, in a day to break even? Can not be many to cover the blue timetable!

    • Christopher Callan says:

      Naturally calculating costs vary. But the main thing is the Facebook page has stated “Every tram covered it’s operating cost and plenty more on top.”

    • Peter Watts says:

      Without going into specifics, what can be said is that so far the Heritage operation is paying its way, and does not need to be subsidised from elsewhere. All the profits from the Heritage operation will go back into the Heritage fleet / operations, so the more support the better for the future of the fleet.

    • Paul D says:

      Sugestions were in the region of £300-350 per car per day direct operating costs with a fully paid crew. A full volunteer crew will probably reduce that by somewhere between 60 and 70%.

  3. John says:

    Don’t forget the team of dedicated volunteers will help costs considerably.

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