The Anonymous Widower

I’ve Gone Cashless

I have now setup my bank account, so that I can make small payments using from my phone, using the contactless facility.

These are a few short observations.

  • The thirty pound limit may be a little too low.
  • You can’t be cashless on the Blackpool tramway. I was allowed to go free!
  • Some small shops still won’t accept them or apply a minimum spend. Obviously, they don’t want my business and didn’t get it.
  • I never have any change for beggars. I follow TfL’s advice and give to the Whitechapel Mission, who look after the genuine homeless.
  • Some estabishments have gone cashless only!

The only time I use cash, is for tips in restaurants and paying black cabs.

February 8, 2020 Posted by | Finance, World | , , | 5 Comments

£500m Fund To Restore Beeching Rail Cuts Goes Ahead Amid Criticism

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the introductory paragraph.

A government fund is to be launched later to restore historic railway lines closed more than 50 years ago under the so-called Beeching cuts.

The two initial grants are for studies about reopening the lines to Blyth and Ashington in the North East and to Fleetwood to the North of Blackpool.

Blyth And Ashington

Consider.

  • The tracks already exist.
  • There may still be some freight traffic on the route.
  • Connections to the Tyne and Wear Metro appear possible.
  • The Tyne and Wear Metro already shares tracks with other freight and passenger services.
  • New stations and probably new signalling will be needed.
  • The distance between the proposed Northern terminals and the connections with the Tyne and Wear Metro are under twenty miles, which could make battery operation easily possible.
  • The Tyne and Wear Metro is currently procuring a new fleet of trains.

I believe that these branches could be integrated into the Tyne and Wear Metro, providing that the new trains have the right specification.

Light rail vehicles like the Class 398 tram-trains being procured for the South Wales Metro should be able to run these services.

But other manufacturers might have better solutions!

Fleetwood Branch

This extension would need the following.

  • Restoration of the existing track between Poulton-le-Fylde and Fleetwood.
  • One or more new stations.
  • Probable resignalling.

In a simple installation, there is probably space to put a bay platform in Poulton-le-Fylde station, so that a shuttle service could be run to Fleetwood.

But services could also be extended to Preston.

Blackpool though has other rail problems like what are they going to do with the Blackpool South Line.

I believe Blackpool could use similar solutions on both the Blackpool South and Fleetwood Lines to create a bigger solution for the whole of the area.

Conclusion

It looks to me that the government has started with two schemes that are possible and where the track still exists.

It is to be hoped that the two studies come up with easy-to-build and fundable schemes, which are the first of many.

January 28, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Blackpool Tramway Is Reaching Towards The Station

On Saturday, I went to Blackpool and rode the Blackpool Tramway to Fleetwood to see Ipswich play.

This Google Map shows the current walking route between Blackpool North station and the North Pier tram stop.

Note.

  1. The station is in the North East corner of the map.
  2. The North Pier tram stop is by the North Pier!
  3. The main tram route passes North-South across the map, close to the shore end of the pier.
  4. The walk is along Talbot Road.
  5. Close to the station is a branch of Wilko.

The new tram tracks will be laid along Talbot Road and these pictures show the current progress of the new tracks.

Note.

  1. The spur is twin-track.
  2. The first two and the last pictures appear to show the tram tracks going into Wilko.
  3. The tram tracks appear to share the road with other traffic.
  4. There is a full triangular junction where the spur meets the main North-South tramway.

A few extra facts and thoughts.

What About Wilko?

The Wilko store will either be demolished or modified and the space will be used by a tram stop.

  • It will be reached by an underpass from the station.
  • I suspect it will have two platforms.
  • One platform might be for trams to the North and the others for trams to the South.
  • There will probably be a few kiosks and small shops.

Done well and it would give passengers a good welcome.

The Track Layout

The track layout with the full triangular junction and a double-track to the station gives a lot of flexibility.

  • Trams can go between the the tram station and the North.
  • Trams can go between the the tram station and the South.
  • Trams could even come from the North, reverse in the station and go out to the South! Or vice-versa!

I also think it has been designed to be ready for expansion of the Blackpool Tramway.

A Tram Stop At Talbot Square

I have found a document on the Blackpool Council web site, that says this.

A tram stop on Talbot Square would be developed while road layouts are being examined so the new scheme would interfere as little as possible with drivers.

There is certainly enough space.

Could Tram-Trains Connect At Blackpool North Station To The Blackpool Tramway?

This Google Map shows Blackpool North station and the nearby Wilko.

I think it would be possible for tram-trains to come straight through the railway station and connect to the Blackpool Tramway.

  • I would suspect that a frequency of between four and six trains per hour (tph) would be possible.
  • The Tram-trains would have a battery capability with a range of perhaps twenty or thirty miles.
  • The tram-trains would obviously come from Preston.
  • But would they go on to Blackburn, Burnley, Clitheroe, Colne, Ormskirk, Southport and/or Todmorden.

The designs of the tracks, Blackpool North station and the proposed Blackpool North tram stop, would not seem to rule out the creation of a tram-train network with the Blackpool Tramway as the Western terminus.

Tram-Trains To The South

The new tram link at Blackpool North station will link the station to Blackpool Pleasure Beach and other attractions South of the North Pier.

To not annoy and discourage visitors, the frequency should be at least six tph or one tram every ten minutes. as little Harry and little Summer won’t late any longer!

Tram-trains to and from Preston and beyond, would have the following effects.

  • A lot of visitors wouldn’t have to change between train and tram.
  • They would reinforce the service between Blackpool North station and the Southern terminus at Starr Gate.
  • They might cut the number of cars needing to park in Blackpool.
  • Blackpool would become the only place in the world where you could see heritage trams, modern trams and tram-trains using the same system.

This tram-train link would surely improve the economy of Blackpool and the \Fylde Coast.

But the tram-trains don’t need to terminate at Starr Gate.

This Google Map shows the Blackpool Tramway’s Southern terminus and depot at Starr Gate and the nearby Squires Gate station.

Note.

  1. Starr Gate Depot on the West side of the map.
  2. The turning loop for the trams outside.
  3. Squires Gate station four hundred metres to the East.

I don’t think it would be difficult to connect the two rail systems.

  • Tram-trains would be able to more freely between the Blackpool Tramway and the South Fylde Line to Kirkham & Wesham and Preston stations.
  • The route between Kirkham & Wesham and Preston stations is electrified.
  • The length of the section without electrification between Kirkham & Wesham and Blackpool South stations is just over twelve miles.
  • The route West of Kirkham & Wesham station is single-track, but could probably be capable of handling more trains per hour, with some improvements like sections of double track.

I can’t see why tram-trains with a battery capability, which could be similar to those destined for the South Wales Metro, couldn’t run an extended service between Preston and the Blackpool Tramway.

  • Tram-trains would change systems at Blackpool North station and Squires Gate/Starr Gate.
  • Tram-trains would call at all stations and tramway stops in both directions.
  • A frequency of at least two tph in both directions would be my preference.
  • Tram-trains could easily handle the section without electrification on batteries charged on the existing electrification.
  • It would provide improved public transport links to the important golf course at Royal Lytham.

I also feel that running battery tram-trains on the South Fylde Line could be an affordable solution to improving public transport in the area.

Tram-Trains To The North

The same arguments that can be used to allow tram-trains to go South along the Blackpool Tramway, will also work, for allowing tram-trains to go to the North.

But there is no railway in good condition to create a loop, as can be done to the South.

Perhaps, two tram-trains per hour could go to Fleetwood Ferry tram stop and use the loop to return to Blackpool North station.

Fleetwood would regain a rail service to Preston, that appears to have been discontinued in the 1960s.

Reinstatement Of The Fleetwood Branch Line

The Association of Train Operating Companies has proposed the reopening of the Fleetwood Branch Line, which would connect Fleetwood with Poulton-le-Fylde on the electrified line to Blackpool North station.

The branch is also being developed for heritage purposes.

I do wonder though, that a tram-train solution, where tram-trains run between Preston and Fleetwood via Kirkham  & Wesham, Blackpool North and the Blsckpool Tramway, may give a higher return.

Obviously, a full study needs to be done.

Other Issues

On my trip to Fleetwood, two other issues were obvious.

A Distinct Lack Of Shelters

I took this picture, as I returned to the trams after the match.

At the time it was chucking it down!

Perhaps, they’d increase ridership, if passengers had some more shelter.

Bank Card Ticketing

I rarely carry cash these days, as I generally use contactless payments, for all payments under thirty pounds.

But on the Blackpool Tramway, you have to use cash!

That is so Nineteenth Century!

Conclusion

Blackpool Tramway can be built into a much more comprehensive and more customer-friendly tram and tram-train network.

 

 

 

 

October 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On Belgium’s Coastal Tram

I enjoyed riding Belgium’s Coastal Tram, which I wrote about in Riding The Coast Tram.

The Belgians appear to be upgrading it, with rebuilt stops, track replacement and new low-floor trams, so it must have a solid future.

The nearest we have in the UK to the Belgian tram is the Blackpool Tramway. But that is very different.

  • The Blackpool Tramway is just eleven miles long, as opposed to the Belgian Coast Tram’s forty-two miles.
  • Frequencies are roughly similar, but the Blackpool Tramway carries five million passenger per year, as opposed to about three million for the Belgian Coast Tram.
  • The Belgian tram uses metre gauge track, whereas Blackpool is standard gauge.
  • The Belgian Coast Tram connects to four railway stations, whereas the Blackpool Tramway is only getting a connection to Blackpool North station in 2019.

So could we see other coastal tramways developed around the world?

The Advance Of Technology

Both tramways are embracing modern low-floor trams, but also still run heritage tram services, so tram manufacturers seem to be able to update the ride experience to modern standards, without losing all the charm of heritage trams.

The next tramway technology will be the use of tram-train technology, which is currently being trialled between Sheffield and Rotherham on the Sheffield Supertram.

This can’t be used in Belgium, as the tram and railways have different gauges, but the technology could be used in Blackpool.

I have not seen the designs for the tramway stop at Blackpool North station, but with the right track layout, it would be possible for a tram-train like the Class 399 tram-train being trialled at Sheffield, to go between Preston and Blackpool North as a train and then take to the tramway to go North to Fleetwood or South to Starr Gate as a tram.

This technology is very applicable to extend railways through a terminal station, where there is convenient geography, as at Blackpool.

There must be many places around the world, where electric trains run to a coastal station, where an extension is possible with a tramway.

And then there is battery technology, which will be used in Birmingham with trams in a couple of years.

Extensions At Blackpool

Blackpool Tramway has various possibilities for extension.

  • Along the coast to Lytham St. Annes
  • Reinstating the Fleetwood Branch Line from Poulton-le-Fylde as a tramway.

Tram-trains and battery power could feature to save construction costs.

Along The North Norfolk Coast

This is a route, that could be developed, to ease the traffic problems in the area.

It could connect Kings Lynn and Sheringham stations.

Conclusion

There will be other coastal tram lines built.

 

May 18, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Poulton-le-Fylde Station

Poulton-le-Fylde station is a station on the Blackpool North branch line. After my troubles at Oxenholme, I decided to use my ticket to explore some of the stations on the branch. These are some pictures I took.

Although the station looks rather disabled-unfriendly, it does have a lift.

There is still a track from here to Fleetwood, which in some reports might be reopened as an extension to the Blackpool tramway. It is clearly visible in this Google Earth image.

Poulton-le-Fylde Station

Poulton-le-Fylde Station

As the Blackpool tramway has been made tram-train ready, this might mean that tram-trains run from Fleetwood to places further inland.

 

 

May 1, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Could Tram-Trains Be Used To Advantage In Blackpool?

Blackpool tramway is unique in the United Kingdom in that it runs a mixture of modern and heritage trams, which I’ve only seen done on a big scale in Lisbon, where like Blackpool, the heritage trams are a tourist attraction.

It may also be unique in that it is already tram-train ready in terms of dimensions, power supply and other details according to this report on the Sintropher web site.

Blackpool’s trams have two major problems.

The obvious one is that the trams do not serve the main railway station at Blackpool North.

The second is that the trams don’t connect well to any of the stations served by the Blackpool South to Colne service. The best connection is  a two hundred metre walk between Squires Gate station and Starr Gate tram stop.

The branch to Blackpool North is being electrified and this should be completed in 2017. The final report of the North of England Electrification Task Force has also recommended that the lines from Burnley to Colne  and Kirkham to Blackpool South be electrified in the Tier Two group of lines to be wired.

So it would be reasonable to assume that in a few years Blackpool will have two stations with electric trains to Preston, Liverpool and beyond.

This is a Google Earth image of the area between the two stations.

Blackpool North and South Stations

Blackpool North and South Stations

Blackpool North is indicated by the red arrow and Blackpool South at the bottom of the image, about five hundred metres or so from the sea front and a short walk south of the football ground and extensive car parking for visitors. Neither the football ground or the car parking are well served by the current tramway.

Blackpool South

This Google Earth image shows the area north of Blackpool South to the football ground to a larger scale.

North of Blackpool South Station

North of Blackpool South Station

I feel that it should be possible for a tram to start northwards from Blackpool South station, go past the car parks and the football ground and then thread its way through to the main tramway route along the sea front.

To the south of the station the rail line is single track all the way to Kirkham and Wesham station, where it joins the main Blackpool branch to Blackpool North.

As this line is now slated for electrification, there are probably cases to electrify it to either main line standard or make the line an extension of the tramway.

If tram-trains successfully pass their trial between Sheffield and Rotherham, then surely using tram-trains to work the services between Blackpool South and Colne, will be looked at seriously.

One factor that could come into the discussion about upgrading of the Blackpool South branch is the important golf course at Royal Lytham and St. Annes, as Ansdell and Fairhaven station is adjacent to the course and is used to transport spectators for important tournaments.

So when will the next Open Championship be staged at Royal Lytham?

Blackpool North

At Blackpool North station, the tram extension is now funded and is being planned.

But will the announcement of electrification to Blackpool South and hopefully successful trialling of tram-trains in Rotherham, add extra possibilities to how the extension to Blackpool North station is implemented?

This is the Google Earth image of Blackpool North station, which is indicated by a red arrow, to the sea front.

Blackpool North Station

Wikipedia also indicates that the spur to the station will join the main tramway north of the North Pier, which is the pier shown in the image.

One possible way of building the spur, would be to make it compatible with tram-trains so that some trains arriving at Blackpool North could transfer to the tramway.

The Karlsruhe Model

If both Blockpool stations were to be served by tram-trains that then ran between the two two stations, then would be an example of the classic Karlsruhe model that has been successfully working in the city since 1992.

Between the two stations, they would work as trams and once clear of the tramway, they would work as normal trains.

Advantages Of Using Tram-Trains Between The Two Blackpool Stations

The tram-train services would probably be on a simple loop between the two stations, with tram-trains turning back at either Kirkham and Wesham or Preston stations. Alternatively, services could be something more substantial serving the wider area. Certainly some tram-trains would go all the way to Colne to replace the current service.

But whatever is done, if tram-trains are used to link the two stations, various advantages will be seen.

1. Long distance services into Blackpool North would have easier access to the tram network, which would probably be step free.

2.As Preston would probably have more trains to Blackpool, this would give Blackpool better access to other long distance services to say Glasgow, Edinburgh, London and Birmingham.

3. Local services running tram-trains from perhaps Preston and Colne would have immediate access to some of the central tram stops in Blackpool, as these stops would be on the link between the two stations.

4. Blackpool South station would become a simple tram stop.

5. Space might also be released at Blackpool North station, depending on how much space was needed for the tram-train stop.

6. Extra trams would be running on the busiest central section of the tramway.

7.If the football ground and the main car parks were on the central loop, this would improve transport links to the town.

Probably the most difficult thing to get right would be the ticketing method, which London has shown must be based on a contactless bank card.

Implications Of Tram-Trains On Services To Colne

With the announcement that the East Lancashire Line is to be electrified to Colne, there would be no problem running tram-trains through both Blackpool stations and then through Preston and on to Colne.

The line from Rose Grove to Colne appears to be mainly single track, with some stations looking like tram stops, with a pile of bricks at the track-side.

If tram-trains were to run on the Colne Line as trams, this would actually be a service upgrade, despite the apparent downgrading of the line from trains to trams. If the powers-that-be thought that more stops were needed, these would be simple affairs, with a low platform on one or both sides of the track, with perhaps a simple shelter and a ticket machine. As on other tram lines in the UK, passengers would walk across the line rather than use an expensive footbridge. To see what is possible on a good tramway, look at this post about good stop design for trams and tram-trains.

But the two biggest improvements would be a much more frequent service, that probably ran at least twice an hour on weekdays and hourly on Sundays, that used new comfortable electric low-floor tram-trains something like the Class 399, being used for trials in Sheffield.

As to speed, the increased acceleration of the tram-trains would mean that stopping wasn’t as time-consuming as on say a Class 142 train. also outside of urban areas and some way from stops, they would be able to run at a more appropriate speed using the railway rules currently in force on the line. Incidentally, some UK trams like Croydon and Edinburgh go faster than you think when the track allows.

Tram-trains would appear at a cursory glance, to be a simple and affordable way to improve services in this neglected part of Lancashire.

Improving Transport In Burnley

Burnley is one of those places most famous outside the local area for football, but it is a market town of over seventy thousand people. The town probably needs improved transport connections, despite having four railway stations, the most important of which; Burnley Manchester Road has recently been rebuilt.

A big improvement will come by electrifying all of the lines, which will mean that Rose Grove and Manchester Road, will be on an important electrified artery between Leeds and Preston. The other line is the Colne Branch of the East Lancashire Line and this has three stations in the town; Rose Grove, Burnley Barracks and Burnley Central.

This Google Earth image shows the four stations as they relate to Burnley.

Burnley And Its Stations

Burnley And Its Stations

Rose Grove is at the West, just to the south of the M65 motorway and is served by both lines. The Colne Line curves to the north with the two stations at Barracks and Central to the western end of the town centre, which is indicated by the red arrow. Manchester Road station is at the southern edge of the image, a steep walk up the hill from the town centre.

If the Colne Line were to be run by tram-trains, would this create a better and more accessible railway for Burnley.

As an example of what could happen, north from Burnley Central , the Colne Line follows the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, so are there possibilities to use a tram-train to give better access to the countryside above the town?

Using tram-trains on the Colne Line could improve public transport in Burnley and the other towns like Nelson and Colne, without laying a metre of new expensive railway.

But why stop the trains at Colne?

The final report of the North of England Electrification Task Force has also recommended that the lines from Skipton to Carlisle via Settle be electrified in the Tier Three group of lines to be wired.

The Skipton – East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership is also campaigning for the line between Colne and Skipton to be reinstated. This map of the missing part of the line is taken from the Wikipedia entry.

Skipton To Colne

Skipton To Colne

Would the missing link be easier and more affordable to build, if it continued as a modern, single-track tramway?

This type of line would also be less visually intrusive, if it used 750 V DC overhead wires, which are all that would be needed for the Class 399 tram-train.

Building this link between Skipton and Colne would further connect the electrified lines in the Leeds area, with the soon to be electrified ones of North Lancashire. As the map shows, Skipton is on the iconic route through Settle between Leeds and Carlisle, which is also in the queue for electrification.

Skipton is the key to the success of any scheme to improve the Colne Line and link it to the town. The town is known as the Gateway to the Dales and already has direct services to London. This section in Wikipedia shows that there are impressive plans for services in the future.

But that was written before the North of England Electrification Task Force reported that Skipton to Carlisle through Settle was an electrification scheme for Tier Three. This was probably included more for freight reasons, as it creates a new route for electrified freight trains from Yorkshire, the East Midlands and the Electric Spine from Southampton to Scotland.

And to think that the line was nearly closed, but a certain Michael Portillo didn’t sign it off!

So will we see electrified passenger services from the South coming up via Leeds and Skipton to Carlisle? I think we will and if the Borders Railway is a success, then I think in perhaps 2040, these trains will reach Edinburgh.

So I think this all means that the tram-trains to Colne, should be used to create a link to Skipton.

Services Between Blackpool And Liverpool

Currently there is just a measly single train each hour between Blackpool and Liverpool.

Ormskirk to Preston is another line that could be chosen for electrification and it is likely that under the Liverpool rules it will be served by four trains per hour.

So I think it is reasonable to assume that when electrification to Blackpool North is complete, that the frequency of Liverpool-Blackpool services will be increased. After all when electrification is complete various routes via Ormskirk, Wigan, Newton-Le-Willows and St. Helens will all be possible.

But the possibility also exists for the use of tram-trains on this route, which will then go round the loop in Blackpool.

Obviously, passenger numbers will determine what services are worth trialling.

There is also the possibility of linking Royal Lytham and St. Annes with the other high-quality golf courses south of Southport.

Conclusion

The Blackpool tramway could use tram-trains to connect the electrified stations at Blackpool North and South, and over a wider network, especially over the Colne Line and its possible extension to Skipton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 7, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Extending The Blackpool Trams

My ride on the Blackpool trams yesterday, got me thinking.

In the first place, I think that concerning the link to Blackpool North station, a trick has been missed. Opposite the station, Sainsburys have built an impressive store.

Sainsburys Opposite Blackpool North Station

Sainsburys Opposite Blackpool North Station

Surely, the whole area should be part of one development with the trams coming up Talbot Road from the North Pier to a covered interchange giving level access to both the station and the superstore. With electric trains arriving direct from Liverpool, London and Manchester, and places farther afield, this would make Blackpool North a true destination station.

When I go to see Ipswich play Blackpool at Bloomfield Road, I sometimes go on the single track railway from Preston via Lytham to Blackpool South station, as it is an easy walk through the car-parks to the ground.

But this means, I have to endure one of Northern Rail’s scrapyard specials and there is nowhere along the walk, to even get a cup of tea. I also walk through masses of car parking for visitors, which like the football ground, are a walk of a couple of hundred yards from the promenade and the tram. This map shows the area.

Blackpool2

The football ground is clearly at the top and the red arrow at the bottom indicates Blackpool South station, with the car parks between. The tramway at this point runs between the beach and the road along the front. The two blue dots are the tram stops at Waterloo Road and South Pier.

If you look further south, the rail-line and tramway get closer together.

StarrGate

Near Blackpool airport, Squires Gate station (red rail arrows) is perhaps just a couple of hundred metres from the Starr Gate terminus of the tram (blue dot in top left).

It strikes me that the whole of this could be pulled together.

Applying my naive logic, it strikes me that to extend the Blackpool tramway to Lytham, as is a stated as an aim in Wikipedia, one way to do this would be to convert the Blackpool South line to a tramway as far as Lytham. At the Northern end, it would branch off the existing tramway somewhere slightly North of the football ground and then pass through the car parks to take over the rail line at Blackpool South station.

From what I have read in the latest edition of Modern Railways more electrification centred on Liverpool, Manchester and Preston area, is on the cards after the current schemes are completed.

In some ways making the Blackpool South branch, an extension to the Blackpool tramway takes part of this line out of one expensive large project and into a simple stand-alone project, that extends the tramway.

You might even extend the tramway through Lytham to Kirkham and Wesham station, where the branch diverts from the Blackpool North branch, which is being electrified.

Kirkham and Wesham is a larger station, that could probably easily accommodate a simple turnback platform for the tram. It will also be on an electrified railway to Preston, Liverpool and Manchester, and possibly even London.

I would doubt, that whilst the tramway extension was being built, it would have any effect on the operation of the Blackpool North branch.

One extra saving might be, that sense would probably dictate doing both extensions around the same time, the extra trams needed could probably be ordered together.

Incidentally, I’ve found a report, which says that the Blackpool South branch could be converted to tram-trains.

Tram-trains might be an option, but I’m a great believer in extending what you’ve got, rather than bringing in too many different systems, as this means you have the convenience of a uniform fleet and you don’t confuse the passengers.

Tram-trains and other new systems appeal to governments, as politicians and civil servants get nice paid-for trips to see the systems at work.

My only worry about my analysis is, am I being bold enough.

I believe that an urban transport system should link the railway stations to the main visitor and sporting attractions, shopping centres and public services like the Council Offices and hospital.

Could for example the spur to Blackpool North station profitably serve anywhere else?

November 2, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Is Blackpool On The Way Up?

In previous visits to Blackpool, I’ve found the place rather depressing and dirty. Generally, I’ve arrived by train, to give myself time to get to the match and then got the first train out afterwards. I have also called Blackpool the most pedestrian-unfriendly resort in the UK.

Also, when I mention I’ve been to Blackpool, like I did once to a lady on a bus in Leeds, I have often got a comment saying no-one goes there now!

But was it the fact that the sun was shining yesterday, that made the place seem so much better. But visitors and residents were adamant that the town had improved in the last few years.

The promenade is so much better and must rate architecturally with some of the best in Europe. Although, I would think that the obvious food offerings, are a bit too gluten-rich for me. If I go again, I might do a bit of searching, to see if anybody can cope.

But living in Dalston, an area of Hackney, that has been transformed by a refreshed North London Line, I would think that Blackpool’s refreshed tramway has done the same for the resort. After all, many of Blackpool’s visitors are like me and not in the best state they could be. Surely, a step-free low-floor tram is one of the best prescriptions, that isn’t available on the NHS.

I think to be fair, we haven’t seen the end of the rise of Blackpool. Just as Liverpool took more than a few years to rise from its nadir, Blackpool won’t get back to the top overnight.

The biggest thing that will happen is connecting the town to the electrified rail network as part of the North West Electrification. Network Rail’s report says this about progress in linking Blackpool to Preston by 2016.

A fully electrified route between Preston and Blackpool will connect the area to the west coast main line, the key rail artery linking the North West with London and Scotland.

We’ve upgraded all 15 bridges whilst carrying out safety improvement work to parapets. Overhead line equipment will be installed in 2015/16.

This electrification should improve the perception of the resort, as refurbished Class 319 trains are so much better and bigger than most of the trains working the line now.

It will also further improve the direct services to Liverpool, Manchester and London.

The tramway should also be linked to Blackpool North station in the next few years, as it should have been years ago. Nothing annoys me more, when I arrive by train in a town or city and find that the buses and/or trams are not connected to the station. Blackpool will rectify this omission, but I hope they get the tram capacity right, as many arriving by train will want to get straight on a tram to perhaps have a sightseeing run up and down the promenade.

One factor affecting the extension of the tramway to Lytham is the Open. Golf has staged its championship four times at Royal Lytham Golf Club in the last twenty-five years. As it last staged an Open in 2012, it should probably be due another. Ansdell and Fairhaven station is close to the course, so if another Open was to be staged at Lytham, then this station would probably play a large part in getting spectators to the event in a carbon-free manner.

I would suspect that Lytham are pushing hard for another Open and they are stressing the 2016-electrification to Preston in their bid. They can probably link an improved train or tram service to the course into the mix as well!

One interesting asset well connected to the trains and the tram is the old Blackpool International Airport, which recently closed. I’m sure that the town will use it to their advantage and I suspect various stakeholders have ideas in mind.

Blackpool has certainly had problems, but I would hope it is now on the rise!

 

 

 

November 1, 2014 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Riding The Blackpool Trams

I’d never ridden the Blackpool trams until this visit, as often these visits seemed to coincide with their rebuilding.

The trams I rode are modern Flexity 2 units, that are essential for providing a complete service in the 21st Century. Supposedly some of the older trams still run at weekends, but I didn’t see any.

The trams have three problems in my mind.

They should link up with the trains at Blackpool North station. Wikipedia says this.

The tramway is to be extended to Blackpool North railway station after Blackpool Council agreed to provide the remaining funding for the project. [11] A study is currently being undertaken by the council about a further extension to Lytham St Annes.

They need information and maps at the tram stops. As the trams have helpful and chatty conductors, this isn’t as pressing as it could be, but why isn’t there an illustrated map showing the route at each stop?

The tram I rode from the North Pier to the South Pier was crowded to say the least. It strikes me that some serious thinking needs to be done about augmenting the fleet, either by adding more new trams or running the heritage trams more. In an ideal world, where money was no object you’d probably build some innovative new double-deck trams. Come to Blackpool Thomas Heatherwick, Blackpool needs you!

November 1, 2014 Posted by | Design, Transport | , , | 1 Comment