Blackpool Twin Cars

In 1957 Joseph Franklin went to Germany to study trailer operation, he came back with an idea, he decided to convert 2 series 2 E.E. railcoaches to enable trailer operation. Railcoaches 275 and 276 were sent to the works and rebuilt with flat ends to allow them both to be coupled together.

276 retained its electical equipment and controllers whilst 275 had its electrical equipment removed and became a trailer and the set was ready for trials in 1958.

The set was demonstrated to the Mayor of Blackpool by transporting him from North Pier to Little Bispham and back again. The experiment was deemed a sucess and 10 trailers were ordered from Met Camm. Whilst a further 8 railcoaches and also 275 were converted to operate as motor sets.

Initially any motor could pull any trailer and as such 277 +T1 became the first true motor/trailer set to operate. Soon standardisation took place and each motor hauled the trailer with the corresponding number.

However, a number of flaws in the planned operation of these sets were discovered early on. The main cause of this being that driving equipment was only located in the railcoach, this meant that it was only possible for each set to run 'loop the loop' journeys and were limited to using the Starr Gate and Pleasure Beach loops in the southern end of the system and Little Bispham and Fleetwood Loops in the northern system thus resulting in alot of dead milage i.e. each set had to travel up to Little Bispham first before being able to head south and each set had to travel at least as far as Little Bispham before heading south to depot.

It was also planned for the trailers to be dropped off at quiet times but there were operational difficulties and some costly solutions which would have been needed to allow this to happen.

Firstly, there was nowhere convienient to leave the trailers, they would have had to have been left on the centre tracks at Tower, North Pier, Cabin, Bispham and Thornton Gate or the short siding at Pleasure beach or the loop at Fleetwood ferry. This then would mean that there was less capacity for turning trams and for waiting there during meal breaks.

The Trailers would have required hand brakes to be fitted to stop them from rolling away on gradients, trailers would also have needed to be fitted locks to keep the public out when they were stored here.

A costly solution to number one would be to build storage loops on the prom but that would have required a remodel of the track and points to be fitted as well as crossovers.

The only other option which did happen was for the motor and trailer to return to depot and the trailer being shunted into an empty pit, this was seen as time consuming as this meant that the crew off the twin set were off the prom and shunting the trailer around whilst they could be on the prom on a tram carrying passengers.

The most simple and effective solution to this problem was found and in the late 60's 7 sets were permanantly coupled together with a set of the driving equipment relocated to the trailer allowing driving from either end which allowed reversing to take place.

The remaining 3 railcoaches which werent coupled up, were rarely seen with their trailers after this operating singly as ordinary railcoaches and the trailers were eventually withdrawn and sold or scrapped.

The 7 twin cars were only used in peak periods and were rarely seen in service before June and after October with use being limited to busy times such as market days and during the Illuminations from the 1970's through until 2002, and as such received very little works attention during this time.

The only major attention received during this time was the fitting of pantographs to all 7 motor cars and the panelling over of the roof windows on 675. 681 received a rebuilt cab in 1999 following a collision with another tram during the previous year.

The situation changed suddenly and drastically during 2002 when all double deckers were banned from travelling North of Thornton Gate due to the track being in poor condition.

Faced with a dilemma of how to deal with large crowds heading to Fleetwood on Market days at one of the busiest times of the year without most of their highest capacity trams, the staff at Blackpool Transport decided to operate the Fleetwood service using as many Twin cars as possible on as many routes as possible. On the day the ban came into operation, brush cars operated the timetable and the twincars were all serviced prior to their stint on the service. The following day, all 7 sets operated on 7 out of the 9 routes on the Fleetwood service. This was the first and the last time that all 7 sets operated on the service at the same time.

The twin cars went on to operate many of the journeys between Starr Gate and Fleetwood during the remainder of the 2002 illuminations and the 2003 summer season.

672+682 at Cabin

Due to their impressive performances during this time, they continue to operate on the Starr Gate to Fleetwood route when there is a shortage of suitable trams, but this is rare as double deckers preferred. One of the downfalls of using the twincars on the Fleetwood service is that they are slow loaders due to passengers not being able to decide what door to use and which carrige to sit in, resulting in the trams running late and occasionally having to turn short of their destination. During 2007, use of twin cars was rare and mainly confined to specials on busier days in the summer and illuminations.

5 of the 7 sets have been repainted into colourful Metro liveries representing various colour schemes carried on the bus routes. Some sets have also received heaters which allows for all year round use in service if required.

Following the mass withdrawal of trams at the end of the 2004 season, unrefurbished Sets 676+686 and 677+687 were both withdrawn and stored for possible further use. However in June 2007, 677 was scrapped (apart from a section from the underframe and a section of the body framework) to provide a replacement body section for the restoration of the Western Train. 687 has since became a store for spare parts for the Western train and also for parts salvaged from 677. However it has been said that if the need was required for 7 twin sets again, however unlikely that may be, that either 678, 679 or 680 would be converted to tow 687 once again.

blackpool tramway

Hosting by WebRing.

Original Number Current Number Built Status livery Notes
281 + T1 671 + 681 1961 in service Line 2 Green and Yellow livery has heating fitted
272 + T2 672 + 682 1960 in service Line 1 Orange and Yellow livery has heating fitted
273 + T3 673 + 683 1960 in service Line 11 Turquoise and Yellow
274 + T4 674 + 684 1962 in service Line 4 Blue and Yellow 674 was trailer but converted back to railcoach 1962
275 + T5 675 + 685 1962 in service Line 5 red and yellow
276 + T6 676 + 686 1960 withdrawn green and cream
T7 687 1960 withdrawn green and cream 687 used as a store for spare parts
T8, T9, T10 688 , 689, 690 1960 scrapped
278, 279, 280 678, 679, 680 1937 in service see railcoaches