10 Years of Blackpool's Light Rail Trams

2 years ago Tue 29th Mar 2022

Can you remember the day our new trams took to the rails in April 2012? To celebrate this special anniversary we're looking back at the amazing journey that brought us our state of the art Light Rail system, as well as interviews with long-serving staff members who have been with us since the launch.

Our journey starts in 2004, when we had an initial bid for the update of our tramway rejected by the government. At this time, the historical heritage trams you see up and down our tracks were our normal service trams.

By 2006, there was fear that Blackpool's tramway may close down forever without new investment and so, The Gazette launched the 'Save our trams' campaign in a bid to source funding. Two years later the government approved funding of £100m to upgrade the tramway and In doing so, kept the coastline tram service alive.

By mid-2011, the Starr Gate Depot had been built.

Starr Gate construction

Starr Gate infastructure

Starr Gate work completion

Photography credit: Tony Stevenson.

It was a bittersweet day on 6th November 2011, being the final day of service for our traditional trams. It wasn't really goodbye though, as we have kept many of our older trams and use some on our Heritage tram tours, giving customers the opportunity to ride the past, today! 

Photography credit: James Blythe

Last day of traditional trams in Blackpool

Next up, was the delivery of our 16 Bombardier Flexity 2 trams. The first came in September of 2011 and made Blackpool the first tram system in the world to purchase this latest type of tram. Here's tram 006 on the M62 to Blackpool in 2012!

Photography credit: Tony Stevenson.

Tram on M6 To blackpool

A full tram service was opened to the general public on 4 April 2012, following a private journey to Fleetwood on the day prior. (It's important to test the tracks!) At launch, we ran a 20-minute frequency between Starr Gate - Fleetwood.

So, what has happened since our launch?

Only a year after our launch, we had received funding for the extension of our tramway to connect with Blackpool North train station, in 2016 we opened new stops on the tramway and we won a Certificate of Excellence by Trip Advisor for providing a superior service.

Since then, works began (and are almost finished) on our tramway extension, linking customers between town and the coastline via Blackpool North Station. We've implemented contactless payments on all trams, we're an award-winning transport provider and the Prime Minister visited our Starr Gate depot!

Boris in Blackpool

Let's meet our long-serving staff

The most important part about our tramway is our team. We spoke to some of our colleagues that have been with us since before our light rail tramway launched, just to get a look at who they are and what brought them to us. As you'll see we have an Army Cadet Trainer and an ex Professional footballer in our ranks!

Click to see what Sarah said about her 10 years with us.

Sarah Wood

Click to see what Darren said about his 10 years with us.

Darren T

On Sunday 3 April, we will be holding an internal celebration to thank all of our team for keeping the Fylde coastline moving over the last decade. With the upcoming extension of the tramway to Blackpool North Station completing a fully integrated travel network for residents and tourists alike, we look forwards to what the next ten years of Blackpool trams will bring.

On our celebration day, we will be reenacting the LRT tram's inaugural journey from Starr Gate for staff and their families to mark the occasion. The tram will be driven by one of our very first 'LRT Qualified' colleagues and will be staffed by some of our newest conductors, so we can continue to drive towards the future.