BLACKPOOL’S historic tramway glided into a new era as the first of the town’s multi-million pound new trams made its maiden journey along the Promenade.
The milestone in the £100m upgrade of the infrastructure saw the unveiling of the first of 16 new trams which from next Easter will provide a 10 minute service along the seafront.
Without the investment, it was feared the 126-year-old tramway would close.
Yesterday saw the global launch of the tram, named Flexity2, which is the most advanced anywhere in the world.
Over coming months the rest of the fleet will be delivered and tested along the full length of the track.
Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said the town was proud of its tramway tradition.
But he added: “By the ‘90s it was clear the old tramway had come under serious threat and required significant investment to continue to operate and transport more than four million people a year and comply with legislation.
“What today means for local residents and our visitors is delivery of a reliable tram, a safe and more modern tram, running at at least 10 minute intervals and a much reduced journey time between Blackpool and Fleetwood.
“The tramway represents the single most important part of the significant investment in the seafront and the launch of the new trams is a significant step forward in making Blackpool a better place for its residents while boosting the local economy.”
Andre Navarri, president of Bombardier which has built the trams at its factories in Germany and Austria, said: “We are proud Flexity2 will continue the long tradition of trams in Blackpool and will run alongside the heritage trams to showcase the old and new working together.”
Lancashire County Council transport director Mike Kirby said the investment would also boost Cleveleys and Fleetwood.