Next! £2m fleet closer to launch

Tram testing on Blackpool promenade.

Tram testing on Blackpool promenade.

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THE second of Blackpool’s fleet of 16 new trams has arrived in the resort.

Engineers took delivery of the £2m Flexity2 tram at the Starr Gate depot yesterday.

Another two trams are due to arrive from manufacturer Bombardier’s factory in Germany before Christmas as the service gears up to re-launch next Easter using the new vehicles.

Meanwhile residents got chance to see the first of the Flexity2 fleet, which arrived in September, when it emerged for testing on the track for the first time yesterday.

The track was barriered off while high speed and braking tests were carried out.

Coun Fred Jackson, cabinet member for streets and transport on Blackpool Council, said: “Now it’s a quieter time of the year, we can use the tracks to put the trams through the necessary tests before the full fleet is rolled out next year.

“We have now received our second tram and hopefully by Christmas will be up to a fleet of four.

“By Easter we will have 16 new trams running alongside the 26 heritage vehicles.

“The trams look splendid and are also much more practical and efficient – people will really notice the difference they start using them next summer.”

The first tram has already undergone testing in the depot before being rolled out on to the track.

It attracted attention from residents keen to get a first view of the new vehicles.

The tram fleet is part of a £100m upgrade of the tramway, which has also seen the track upgraded along the full route from Starr Gate to Fleetwood, raised platforms installed at stops and new signals put into place.

Blackpool Transport suspended the tram service at the end of the Illuminations in order for the final upgrade work to be carried out including the testing of the new fleet.

Drivers are also being trained during the winter in readiness for the relaunched service.

A fleet of 26 heritage trams is also being retained which will be used as a tourist attraction running alongside the 10 minute commuter service.