B Fleet Balloon car runs in service

The small fleet of modified ‘B Fleet’ Balloon cars in Blackpool which were intended to be used on stage carriage work to supplement the core LRT service post-2012, have found themselves with an increasingly confused role of late. Latterly used on heritage tours and little else, it therefore came as a nice surprise to see car 700 make a brief appearance in ordinary service on Sunday 7th August.

The annual air show held on Blackpool promenade is a huge draw for visitors and despite windy weather, the 2016 event which started on 7th August was no exception. Huge crowds of people flocked to the promenade to see a whole host of historic aircraft performing impressive displays, but once the show was over, naturally many of these people looked to public transport. With this in mind, Blackpool Transport opted to send out Balloon 700 as an unadvertised special during the latter part of the afternoon, to assist with shifting the crowds. The tram ran empty from Rigby Road depot to North Pier, where the biggest crowds had gathered. It then performed a very short trip to Cabin where it reversed before returning to North Pier, then headed north to Bispham. Finally the car then ran back south to Manchester Square where it terminated and returned to the depot. Although this was a frustratingly brief stint of service for 700 (and unusual in that it never went to Pleasure Beach!), it was most pleasing to see the effort made to run one of these trams for its intended purpose. Hopefully other such peak times will see further outing for the modernised Balloon cars as true service trams, with the illuminations potentially the most likely time for them to be utilised.

Thanks to Rob Bray for providing information on 700‘s movements to assist with this report.

Balloon 700 is seen at Manchester Square at the end of its brief stint on service on 7th August. (Photo by Rob Bray)


This entry was posted in Blackpool Tramway. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to B Fleet Balloon car runs in service

  1. Chris says:

    That was a weird duty and quite why 700 came out when there were Flexities in depot is a mystery. It was a brave effort but utterly pointless as it didn’t go anywhere near the crowds who were standing on full platforms unable to get on a Tram!

    • Dave says:

      Think it was a Heritage Crew who arent trained on flexities. From what I saw it did a good job of clearing the queue “standing on full platforms” at North Pier “unable to get on a Tram!” cause they were full from previous stops.
      Looked to me like smart thinking from heritage department to grab a share of the extra crowds.

  2. Chris says:

    They were an LRT crew who had been out on a Flexity earlier.

  3. John says:

    Just to avoid any misunderstanding, the Heritage team DO NOT operate any services which serve the LRT platforms, we operate HERITAGE TOURS, from HERITAGE TRAM STOPS.

  4. Christopher Callan says:

    As wasn’t their cannot comment on the other my name sake experiences. On paper is did seem rather curious duty indeed was noticeable on the Monday the more sensible allocation of LRT from North Pier took place. Generally seems increasingly obvious the 16 (Soon to be 18) LRTs perfectly capable of coping with demand in terms of core service provision providing the management deploy them effectively… Can only assume opportunity was used to keep a LRT driver who had only recently upgraded licence to include Heritage/BFleet Cars refreshed with short duty (perhaps shortened because of late running in their morning shift limiting hours).

    The Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours Team do not benefit from B Fleet Stage Carriage operation quite the opposite. Money taken on them goes into LRT Coffers & crewed when deployed in stage carriage by paid Blackpool Transport Services staff.

    The real problem of the day lay with inability to control crowds and keep them off tram tracks. Brought about serious late running and increased journey times and through timetable into disarray by all accounts. Need to look at fencing / control options.

Comments are closed.