678 waiting at Cabin May 2005
678 started life as an ordinary Series 2 English Electric Railcoach, arriving at Blackpool as 278 in 1935. For the following 25 years the tram operated on all the town services and the Fleetwood service until 1960 when it was withdrawn for a refurbishment as part of the Twin Car program.
It lost it's distinctive pointed front ends and gained the flatter cabs it has today and coupling gear. This allowed the tram to haul a trailer. In 1968, 278 was renumbered 678 and soon most twin sets were permanently coupled and operated with the same trailers all the time, with the exception of 678, 679 and 680 which werent permanently coupled and spent most of the time being used as ordinary railcoaches and only towing their trailers at busy times such as the illuminations.
By 1972 678, 679 and 680's trailers were all withdrawn and they all operated as Railcoaches. Around this time 678 had its coupling gear removed and front ends repannelled. This is thought to have been the last serious work to have been done on 678 some 35 years ago!!!!!!
678 received fan heaters and was used mostly in season but often in the Winter as well if a crew car was required.
All year round use of 678 ended around 1998 when the saloon heaters were removed. Around the same time the car received an all over advert for the British Legion Poppy appeal, which in my opinion was one of the best advert liveries there has been. It was around this time that it was becoming clear that the tram was in a desperate need of an overhaul as the body was drooping badly. However 678 remained in service and mainly operated on the Starr Gate - Fleetwood / or Cleveleys service for the next few years.
Remarkably the tram survived mothballing in 2004 when so many other Brush cars and Railcoaches, many in a better condition than 678 were stored, especially now that the body of 678 was now resembling a Wave effect (matches its advert for Radio Wave, maybe that why it was chosen!!!!). In 2005 and 2006 the tram continued to operate on specials and Cleveleys service.
However 2007 has seen 678's withdrawal from service. Will we see 678 in service again in the future in another guise, or Refurbished as an original EE railcoach or as an ex towing railcoach? Only time will tell. Incidentally the interior of 678 has hardly changed since at least 1960, possibly longer, making it a possible candidate for preservation.
680 is now the only Railcoach now remaining in service.