Light rail and trams

01.03.17

Blackpool tram passenger numbers back on the rise after 2014 dip

Blackpool’s revamped tram network has seen record numbers of passengers travel on the services, as ticket sales show that five million journeys have been registered since April 2016 – the highest number since the tram re-opened in 2012.

This figure was also the highest number of passengers that Blackpool has had on its network since 1994, showing improvement since 2014-15 when it was reported that the number of tram passengers had declined by 5.9% down to 4.1 million passengers.

Work is also progressing on extending line from the Promenade up to Blackpool North station as the seaside town looks to follow suit with Manchester, which this week finished work on the Second City Crossing service cutting through the city centre.

The Blackpool tram system reopened five years ago after a £101m investment that saw the tracks replaced, a new depot built and 16 Flexity2 trams arrive to transport passengers across the 11-mile tramway, which runs from Starr Gate up to Fleetwood Ferry every 10 minutes throughout the summer season.

Chair of Blackpool Transport, Cllr Christine Wright, said: “It is fantastic news that more and more people are choosing to use the tramway network to get around the Fylde coast.

“Its success varies from daily commuters trying to beat the traffic, to holidaymakers enjoying the ease at which the trams get them between attractions. Using the tram is not only environmentally friendly, but it is also an enjoyable way to get around and good value for money.”

Cllr Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, also added: “The reason we are confident in the success of the tramway extension is because we know just how popular the current service is.

“Blackpool tramway is one of the fastest growing light rail networks in the country and there are no signs of it slowing down. Our tramway is known throughout the world and it is fantastic to see more and more people using it.”

Managing director of Blackpool Transport, Jane Cole, also commented on the news, arguing that the team had worked “very hard over the last two years” to design the operation around the needs of its customers.

“We get very positive feedback about how our staff deliver a fantastic customer experience and the value for money of the 24-hour ticket,” added Cole.

“We will have two new trams joining the fleet this year in preparation for the capacity needed to grow the tram patronage even further.”

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Comments

Watcher   01/03/2017 at 16:41

The decline in that year was because they removed pensioner free travel perk from non-blackpool residents including Fleetwood.

Andrew G   02/03/2017 at 01:28

I would love to go on the Blackpool Tram. I might plan my trip very soon to visit Blackpool and to ride on the trams.

J, Leicester   02/03/2017 at 09:12

From a purely personal viewpoint as a regular holidaymaker in Blackpool over the years, I think they went too far in the extent of handing over services to the new units. Heritage operations do still run, but they're few and far between and only for the "promenade tours" for the most part. I can understand the will to provide a modern service for residents, but let's not kid ourselves - the Blackpool Tramway would not have existed in the first place without tourist custom, and even if it had done it would have closed years ago with the end of trams as a fashionable form of mass transit after World War 2. Ultimately, a lot of tourists who would have visited Blackpool primarily for the trams have been turned off in the past few years, and only now have figures begun to pick up through local and general custom. Granted, this is my subjective viewpoint, but I and the rest of the family just felt let down to arrive in Blackpool back in 2014 and being greeted with a modern unit - particularly given we would usually wait for a double-decker and ride that to get the best view of the promenade. The tinted windows and low ride made for a disappointing journey, and on our second day we ended up getting a bus instead, which while not the same did at least give us that view we wanted. A few heritage weekends throughout the year isn't really good enough - Blackpool had a niche which has now for the most part been lost, and it resembles any other modern tram network with a little more sea spray. I've not been back since 2014, and given that something etched into the fabric of the town has for the most part been lost, I'd rather go elsewhere on holiday now.

Manchester Mike   02/03/2017 at 13:49

When we visited in 2014 the double decker Heritage trams were 10 quid, whose ticket was not interchangeable with the modern Flexity trams. So we stuck with the modern trams, which were rammed with tourists, whilst the double deckers were empty. Someone at Blackpool needs to be smarter about this, to draw tourists to the double deckers without losing their shirts. It just puts people off. Now, the Flexities are amazing, low floor, huge windows etc. But the city really needs to optimize their principle asset - the trams, as the access up and down the beach front.

James Miller   02/03/2017 at 16:58

I go to that area of Lancashire quite regularly to support my football team. Sadly Blackpool are not in the same Division any more. I usually stay in Preston or Blackburn, as they both have Premier Inns close to the station. There is a lot to see for both rail enthusiast and those who like travelling by train. I usually get a Lancashire Ranger ticket, which gets you to many places worth a visit including Blackpool, Liverpool and Manchester.

Jerry Alderson   03/03/2017 at 15:36

J of Leicester needs to bear in mind the legal need to provide accessible travel. The old trams were not. It's one thing to deprive wheelchair users (and others) of using a heritage tourist vehicle but another thing with an important transport system to get to work, shops, doctors etc. I agree with comments about lack of interavailable tickets.

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