One of Blackpool’s best loved trams, the illuminated Western Train 733, has undergone another minor change to its external appearance recently, with the removal of its trolley arm. It may be recalled that over winter, 733 had been fitted with a diamond pantograph and mini-tower on its roof, with the rendundant trolley initially being tied down out of harm’s way. However, it has now been removed altogether, meaning that none of the operational illuminated trams now have this type of current collector.
Whilst the removal of the loco’s trolley may be slightly detrimental to its historic value, the most important factor is obviously that this tram is available for service as often as possible, and the pantograph will spell an end to most of the issues it has experienced since returning to service in 2009 after a major restoration. Whilst some people have suggested that the tower should have been fitted to its trailer 734 instead, as a throwback to its origins as Pantograph car 174, it should be remembered that the Western Train is primarily intended to appeal to the general public who visit Blackpool to enjoy the annual spectacle that is the illuminations, and who probably don’t even know what a Pantograph car is. Although it has been suggested that the current arrangement may only be a temporary one, in reality this modification is unlikely to affect the Train’s popularity too adversely, and as mentioned previously, should be much less noticeable in darkness, when it performs the vast majority of its journeys.
The Train ran minus its trolley for the first time recently on a private hire trip for a local school; a fairly common role for it since 2009, as one of the conditions of the Lottery funding put towards its reconstruction. Meanwhile, Brush car 631 has also enjoyed a rare early season appearance in the last week, venturing to Fleetwood Ferry on another private charter, and becoming the first heritage tram to visit the northern terminus this year.