The Blackpool tramway usually prepares for winter by fitting two Balloon cars with snowploughs, just in case a rare heavy snow fall should occur in the resort. For the last few years, cars 701 and 723 have been used in this role, but this year 711 has been selected – the very first B Fleet car to be equipped with a snowplough.
711 has been residing in the Fitting Shop recently undergoing routine attention, whilst its rubber bumpers have been removed at one end to enable its plough to be attached. This is due to its revised bumper/lifeguard arrangement which is not ideally suited to the fitting of the temporary addition. 723 also requires its bumper to be removed for a plough to be attached; it was decided not to disturb its immaculate paintwork, hence 711 being used instead. This also means that 723 remains available for other duties as required, having already been used on two private charters since the end of the illuminations, and having saloon heaters and halogen headlamps this will be a useful car for the upcoming winter heritage operating days.
The other snowplough Balloon car for winter 2016/17 is red and white liveried 701, which has been chosen each winter since the opening of the upgraded tramway.
711 could well be considered the most useful, or at least the most flexible tram in the fleet these days. During 2016 it has run in normal service on a number of occasions, but also operated heritage and illuminations tours. For much of the season it was the first choice driver training car for both volunteers and paid staff being familiarised with a typical traditional tramcar, and now it is a snowplough car. That’s quite a variety of duties by any stretch of the imagination and it is pleasing that this tram has been kept busy despite the lack of work for the B Fleet in their intended role for much of the year.