Only a few weeks have passed since the last trams ran back to Blackpool’s Rigby Road depot after the 2015 Santa Specials, but already plans are in place for the first heritage tram running days of 2016. As reported previously, as an experiment two winter weekends will see a premium heritage service operate and this kicks off on the weekend of 30th & 31st January, with six trams due to run on both days.
The heritage service will run to a fairly familiar pattern although with a few minor amendments to the timetable that operated on most of the ‘gold’ running days last season. The cars will run at 15 minute intervals from the Pleasure Beach between 1000 and 1700, mostly running to Bispham or Little Bispham but with a few short workings and even a couple of journeys to the more exotic destination of Thornton Gate. All six trams are expected to run through to Fleetwood as well, and these tours will depart from Pleasure Beach at 1000, 1045, 1130, 1415, 1500 and 1545. Although these timings will make it difficult to ride on all the different heritage cars to the northern end of the tramway on each day, it should be possible to change trams at Cleveleys on the return leg which some eager riders will no doubt be keen to attempt!
It has also been revealed that ten different trams are rostered to see use over the course of the late January event weekend. These consist of: Balloons 700, 715 and 717, Centenary cars 642 and 648, Ex-Towing Railcoach 680, Twin set 675+685, Fleetwood Box 40, Standard 147 and Illuminated Frigate 736. Providing it appears the latter should be a particularly popular attraction as it rarely carries passengers other than on illumination tour duties and has only run to Fleetwood twice since the tramway upgrade – both occasions being private hires. Of course, in the not so distant past the Centenary cars ruled the tramway in winter so it will be nice to sample these trams in the month of January for the first time in several years, along with some more exotic rolling stock. The possibility of an extra surprise has also been mentioned, but as always much of what is being planned will depend on tramcar availability and of course the ever unpredictable Great British weather!