It was announced late on Saturday 31st October that England will once again be going into a national lockdown in an attempt to supress the spread of the Coronavirus. This means that as from Thursday 5th November – and until Wednesday 2nd December – there will further restrictions put into place including the closure of non-essential shops and the hospitality sector. Most significantly for this website it will mean that no heritage trams will be able to run during this period.
Whilst this weekend (31st October/1st November) is traditionally the end of the operating season for many heritage tramways anyway, 2020 is slightly different with in Blackpool the illuminations season having initially been extended until the start of January with Crich announcing recently an extra weekend of operation and the East Anglia Transport Museum due to remain open on Thursdays and Sundays until the end of November.
With the latest government announcement many of these will now not be possible with Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours confirming on the evening of 31st October that all tours between 5th November and 2nd December will be cancelled and that all ticket holders will receive an automatic refund.
Although at the time of writing nothing official had been announced by either Crich or the East Anglia Transport Museum their plans will now also have to be changed. For Crich that means that the planned operation over the weekend of 7th and 8th November will have to be cancelled meaning Sunday 1st November will be their last running for a truncated 2020 season. Meanwhile, Sunday 1st November will be the last day of operation at the East Anglia Transport Museum with their planned running days through the rest of November now having to be cancelled. They had suggested they may open at times during December but whether that happens now remains to be seen – if we hear any updates we will let you know.
Of other heritage lines which had been running, the Seaton Tramway was due to end its daily operation on Sunday 1st November anyway although they will be affected as the first of their Polar Express outings were due to take place during November. These will now have to be cancelled and presumably they will resume these again during December.
The Volk’s Electric Railway has already ended its season although it wasn’t quite the end they were expecting! Saturday 31st October was due to be their last operating day for 2020 but sadly the weather wasn’t keen and services had to be abandoned early. With track repairs required on Friday 30th October and no service able to run then, the last full day of operation on the Volk’s Electric Railway for 2020 was Thursday 29th October.
It should be remembered that this latest lockdown affects England only with the Summerlee Heritage Tramway still able to run under the current restrictions in Scotland, although keep your eye on their social media accounts for any changes which may be introduced there.
To complete the picture in the British Isles the only other heritage tramway which has run since initial restrictions were listed was the Manx Electric Railway and that is due to end its season today (Sunday 1st November) after a lengthened shortened season.
As things stand no changes have been announced for public service tramways but with a likely reduction in the number of people now travelling because of these new restrictions it could be with see further revised timetables – we’ll keep an eye on this and update if necessary.
It goes without saying but please stay safe everyone, listen to the latest advice and let’s hope that this has the desired effect to slow the spread and that 2021 ends up being a far better year than 2020 has been.