Blackpool Town Council and Lancashire County Council purchased 16 Flexity 2 vehicles for approximately £33m for use on the revitalised 17.7km Blackpool and Fleetwood tramway in July 2009. In total £101m is being spent on the new vehicles and an upgrade of the 125 year-old line, which runs along the town's seafront, and will be completed by April 2012.
blackpool_flexity_2.jpgThe work has included construction of a new seven-track depot by Volker Fitzpatrick for approximately £20m, as well as installation of new track and catenary upgrades by BAM Nuttal. Plans also exist to extend the line to Blackpool North mainline station.
The link carries 3 million passengers annually, 75% of which are tourists, although operator Blackpool Transport is hoping to increase the number of local people who use the service by operating earlier in the morning and later at night, and by coordinating fares with local bus services.
The new Flexity 2 vehicles can transport 148 passengers, including 74 seated, as well as provide space for wheelchairs and prams. The new vehicles will be the primary rolling stock used on the line although they will operate in conjunction with Blackpool's eight single and double-deck heritage trams during peak tourist times when services will operate at five minute headways.
The low-floor vehicles, which use Bombardier's Flexx Urban 3000 bogie, are 32m-long, 3.42m high and 2.65m wide. They are made up of five sections and utilise a 600V dc energy supply as well as regenerative braking and are designed to be environmentally friendly. Bombardier says that the LRVs' improved carbody concept will help to protect against erosion from the seafront environment.
Bombardier has previously supplied LRVs in Britain to Croydon, Nottingham and Manchester. Flexity 2 is the latest addition to the Flexity LRV series and has also been ordered by the Queensland government for operation on its Gold Coast Rapid Transit system.