Blackpool Tramway, a tramway running from Blackpool to Fleetwood in Lancashire, was derailed within three hours of its initial public run, on reopening after renovations.
The tramcar was derailed yesterday due to stormy weather conditions that had driven sand on to the tracks. Although the transport system was back in business within a few hours, the incident marred the reopening of the tramways after an expensive maintenance project completed recently, which saw an investment of around £100m. The renovation project, which has involved extensive testing of the new tracks over the last six months, has taken four years to complete.
The company customer service co-ordinator, Brian Lindop, said, ‘When a new £100m system breaks down because of sand, then of course there is a humorous aspect to it. It somewhat caught us out a bit. If the sand is deep enough, the trams just can’t get through it and freak weather conditions aren’t something that we can normally account for. But we will not be caught out twice. We will be checking the track from now on to ensure that it is kept clear.’
The tramways four-year restoration project included 16 brand new 32-metre long tram cars accommodating around 150 passengers, a totally computer-operated system, replacement of 11km of track between Fleetwood and Blackpool, and the opening of a new depot. The company will also continue to run the old heritage tramcars for tourists.
A Blackpool Borough Council representative said, ‘For this to happen on the first day on the first journey is unfortunate to say the least. When designing the new track and trams, the weather conditions of the Fylde coast have, of course, been taken into consideration. The trams have been tested on the track for the last six months throughout the winter and we haven’t experienced any problems like this. The weather conditions were exceptional and the sand was piling up as quick as we were able to clear it away.’