Having stopped running in March following a Winter Gold event it has been announced that Blackpool’s heritage trams will be returning to the rails for the August Bank Holiday weekend. Running on all three days of the weekend things will, obviously, be a little different than they were before with various changes introduced to take into account Covid-19 restrictions.
Normally on a Bank Holiday weekend in the Spring or Summer enthusiasts would buy a Travlcard and get ready to hop on and off six trams running between Pleasure Beach and Fleetwood (and points in between) for a full day of tram action but from the August Bank Holiday weekend a revised timetable will be running with limited capacity on board each tram and pre-booking is highly recommended to secure your place as capacity will be reduced.
There will be two different journey options available and the new timetable which will run will give you an idea of what tram it may be, although as always this may be subject to change for operational reasons.
All journeys will start and end at North Pier/Tower with no boarding possible at any other heritage stop. Similar to illumination tours of recent years you can alight at any of the other heritage stops on the route but if you do that will be the end of your journey. Because of the current situation it will not be possible to hop on and off and this does mean that Heritage Day Travelcards will not be available for purchase with just the round-trip tickets available whilst this special timetable is running. There will, however, be a special offer for these single use tickets.
Two types of tour will run – Promenade Tour (North Pier/Tower-Little Bispham-Pleasure Beach-North Pier/Tower) and Coastal Tour (North Pier/Tower-Fleetwood-Pleasure Beach-North Pier/Tower – with a short photostop at Fleetwood). Currently it is planned that only one Coastal Tour will run per day (at 1300) with four Promenade Tours available, but if demand exceeds capacity it may be possible to add additional tours during the day. So far just the three days of the August Bank Holiday weekend (Saturday 29th, Sunday 30th and Monday 31st August) are available for booking but it is planned that further running will take place following this.
Each tour taking place has been categorised for the type of tram it is planned to operate – it will either be Balloon, Vintage (Bolton 66, Standard 147 or Standard 143 – more likely to be one of the former at the moment as 143 is believed to still be sidelined) or Boat or Single Decker. This is the plan but as we know things can be changed at the lats minute for availability and operational reasons. For the Balloon and Vintage categories when booking you will need to select lower or upper deck as there will only be limited capacity on board. With engineering staff having been furloughed during the closure, there may be limited availability of trams as they go back through the works to be commisioned for the season.
Everyone should arrive 5 minutes before scheduled departure time and will be assisted with boarding by the conductor to allow prompt departure.
The timetable planned to run over the August Bank Holiday weekend is:
1030 – Promenade Tour (Balloon)
1130 – Promenade Tour (Vintage)
1300 – Coastal Tour (Balloon)
1400 – Promenade Tour (Boat or Single Decker)
1530 – Promenade Tour (Boat or Single Decker)
Fares remain the same as they were before services were suspended. Promenade Tours cost £4 for adults (£2 children) with Coastal Tours at £6 for adults (£3 children). Special 4 for 3 Passes are also available (allowing you the chance to book for 4 tours but only pay the price of 3 tours) – both Promenade Tours and Coastal Tours versions are available.
As we have already seen – and typed – for places such as Seaton and Crich already, the heritage tram offering in Blackpool will be very different to that which was offered before the pandemic but at least the heritage trams will be back on the rails again once more. There is a lot of change in information and you are strongly advised to check out the Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours where all the details, how to book, timetable and much more can be found.
Further details of future running days, including annual Illumination Tours, are currently being decided by Heritage Tram Tours and will be announced in due course.