What did we learn from Seaton Tramway’s Tramathon?

Over the week of 8th June 2020, the Seaton Tramway had a week of remote events to not only entertain us but also to help raise funds to secure the future of the Tramway, with their main stream of money currently unavailable as a result of their enforced closure. With various different events taking place – culminating in a full 24 hour “Tramathon” which saw trams run on the line throughout the night – there were plenty of snippets of information for both the immediate and longer term futures and in this article we take a look at some of these.

* As we’ve featured on these pages before, 7 was taken down to Seaton Station ahead of the event and that is where it stayed throughout the event. Not having run in passenger service for 14 years, it is hoped to get the tram back on the rails in the future and part of the fundraising from the event should go towards making this possible.

* 14 – the former Metropolitan Electric Tramways 94 – is enjoying some attention in the depot including a repaint.

* A number of the trams have received small 50th Anniversary stickers on their dash panels. 2020 is, of course, the 50th anniversary of the tramway with a celebration originally due to take place in August.

* Some progress has been made on the new halts due to be added to the line. Both Riverside Halt and Seaton Wetlands Halt were due to open in 2020 although the current pandemic is likely to mean the Wetlands Halt doesn’t welcome its first passengers until next year now (although it is hoped construction may commence in 2020). Work has started on Riverside Halt with new decking installed outside the depot giving a larger space for visitors to congregate as the wait for the next tram to arrive. Further work is also required here before it is ready for opening but excellent progress has been made.

* Preparations for a reopening when permission is given are ongoing. This includes special one-way routes into and out of stations, floor markings, hand sanitiser stations, Perspex screens at tills and the limitation of passenger numbers on each tram. There will be a change of loading arrangements at Colyton Station with the tram loading at the Colyford end of the platform instead of the other end to aid social distancing. No date has yet been set for the tramway to open again but these preparations are making sure they are fully ready for when they can.

* No. 4 looks stunning with its lights illuminated in the dark as seen during the 24 Hour Tramathon. A rare sight on the tramway in recent years could evening services be a way of getting extra people to visit on those warmer summer evenings in the future?

The events held on the Seaton Tramway’s Facebook page were an enjoyable way to spend the hours with friendly and personable hosts from the Tramway, answering questions and providing an insight into the operations of the Tramway. We may be in unprecedented times but it is events such as these which help to keep heritage lines in the public eye whilst they are unable to operate a public service.

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