In 1993 Balloon 707 was withdrawn in need of an overhaul. At first it was assumed that 707 would reappear in the same fashion as recently rebuilt balloons 701, 711, 719 and 723. However in 1998, the car re-emerged in a new style.
This new style included enlarged drivers cabs, flat fronted ends with rounded edges, giving the tram the appearance of a double decked railcoach or twin car and halogen headlights, which allowed clear visability in the poorly lit Northern section of the tramway at night thus allowing it to be allocated to the Fleetwood service at night.
Internally, the tram car has central heating and bus style seats.
However there are disadvantages to this type of tram, mainly that it still requires a crew consisting of one driver and two conductors and also retains its original electrical equipment and controllers and has the same interior layout as an ordinary balloon, in fact it can be said that a Millenium tram is basically a flat fronted balloon.
Opinions of the rebuilding of 707 are mixed, originally when 707 re-emerged in this style back in 1998, alot of the comment was that it was vandalism of a popular class of tram, if a rebuild was nessecary, it should have been as either a Jubilee car to allow One Person Operation or be refurbished in a similar style to 711 and 723. However over the course of time, the Millenium trams have settled down and have provided reliable service following a few initial teething troubles (which was to be expected really)
Work started on the next rebuild in 1998 and 709 was the second tram to emerge in this style, re-entering service in 2000. 709 (and 707 originally) did not have opening cab windows originally and had air conditioning units in the driver's cab. For a few months after entering service, a fitter could be seen at Manchester Square with a watering can to top up the water in the air conditioning unit!!!!, needless to say, an opening cab window was installed soon after.
718 became the third rebuild after it was withdrawn in need of a new underframe and overhaul in 1999. It was the 1st of the 2nd series balloons to appear in this style and had taller lower deck windows than 707 and 709 which were rebuilt from 1st series balloons. 718 re-entered service in 2002. The final rebuild was 724, this tram took longer to enter service due to other higher priority jobs and re-entered service in 2004.
724 looks to be the last car to be rebuilt in the millenium style as subsequent major overhauls have resulted in 713 being refitted in the same style as 711, 719 and 723, with 720 destined to follow, and 717 keeping its original shape and receiving a heritage overhaul.
709 on Queens promenade July 2004
|Original Number||Current Number||Built||Status||livery||Notes|
|707||rebuilt 1998||in service||Bucaneer Family Bar Advert||Advert Transferred from Brush Car 627|
|709||rebuilt 2000||in service||Sea Life Centre Advert||Advert transferred from Brush Car 632|
|718||rebuilt 2002||in service||line 3 yellow and blue metro livery|
|724||rebuilt 2004||in service||Lyndene Hotel Advert|