The Anonymous Widower

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

Riding The Coast Tram

The Coast Tram in Belgium, runs along the whole Belgian coast and is the longest tram line in the world.

I took these pictures, as I rode it from Blankenberg station to De Panne station and then back to Oostende station.

From Blankenberge To Oostende

At Oostende station we changed trams before moving on to De Panne.

From Oostende To De Panne

There is a lot to see on this part of the route.

From De Panne To Oostende

Would you really want to call a theme Park Plopsaland?

I didn’t see anybody in the sea!

Ridership On The Coastal Tram

Despite the windy weather, the extended intervals due to the strike, the ridership was good.

There were people of all ages from schoolchildren, through teenagers and those going to work, to quite a few pensioners.

And like me, not all were from Belgium.

Wikipedia says this under Characteristics.

The service makes 69 stops along the 68 km line, with a tram running every 10 min during the peak summer months (every 20 min in the winter months), and it is used by over 3 million passengers. The service has recently been made more accessible by new low-floor centre sections to existing vehicles and a few new HermeLijn low-floor trams.

Given, that work was proceeding in several places, I feel the Coastal Tram has a sound future.

 

 

May 16, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 6 Comments

Blankenberg Station

The Coast Tram connects to the Belgian Railway network at Knokke, Blankenberge, Oostende and De Panne.

These pictures show Blankenberge station and tram interchange.

Blankenberge station and the tram stop are undergoing a degree of rebuilding and landscaping.

Note.

  • The trams are metre gauge.
  • They were a bit thin on the ground, as there was a strike.
  • Many of the trams were covered in advertising, which made it difficult to see out.

I had taken a train from Bruges to Blankenberge.

May 16, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment