Much of the country is currently coated in white following the most severe snowfalls so far this winter, but Blackpool has escaped with just a light dusting thus far. However, Blackpool Transport are well prepared in case of snow, with two Balloon cars now fitted with snowploughs. We previously reported that stored car 701 had been equipped for this purpose, but what has only recent come to light is that 723 has also had a plough fitted!
It was previously thought that 701 had been chosen as the new snowplough tram as it is now the last Balloon car left in BTS ownership which retains its traditional fenders, which the ploughs are normally clipped to (excluding open topper 706 – which would have been pretty ridiculous!). However, another reputable tram news site has now confirmed that sister car 723 has also been equipped with a snowplough in case of heavy snow falls. This was a complete surprise as the tram received new rubber bumpers during its last heavy overhaul in 1993, and indicates that potentially any tram could be used to clear snow from the tracks in the future. However, it is very good news that two Balloon cars which were otherwise considered withdrawn have been chosen for this role, and they may well remain equipped permanently, as there are currently no plans to return either car to the main operating fleet.
As if that wasn’t enough excitement, 701 was transferred to Starr Gate depot on Wednesday 16th January. Presumably this is so that there will be a plough car at each of the two main depots in Blackpool, so if either of them becomes inaccessible for any reason, then at least one of the duo should be available for use. 701 previously resided at Starr Gate for much of last winter and this was its first appearance on the promenade for nearly a year.
In other news, 701‘s move coincided with widened car 719 being returned to Rigby Road after spending a few weeks at Starr Gate undergoing routine attention. Whilst there it has also regained the name ‘Donna’s Dream House’ which it carried before its most recent workshop attention. The names have been applied beneath the destination boxes, whereas they were previously below the driver’s cab windscreens.