Blackpool's New Tram Launched Today
8th September 2011
Categories: Press Releases - Latest
Today marks a milestone in the regeneration of Blackpool's tramway as the new FLEXITY 2 model, which will be on the tram tracks by Easter, is launched.
Today Bombardier is hosting the global launch of the BOMBARDIER FLEXITY 2 tram in Blackpool.
Blackpool Council and Lancashire County Council purchased the world’s most advanced tram technology from Bombardier to revitalize Britain’s most traditional tram system and will operate 16 new, ultra-modern FLEXITY 2 vehicles on the Blackpool and Fleetwood tramway.
The FLEXITY 2 tram combines ‘the best of the best’ in global tram technology and Bombardier’s experience in delivering more than 3,500 trams and light rail vehicles to around 100 cities in more than 20 countries. FLEXITY 2 is based on the very successful BOMBARDIER FLEXITY family of light rail vehicles and combines proven technology with continuous improvement and innovation.
Blackpool has the UK’s longest running tram operation, which last year celebrated its 125th year of operation. As a popular tourist destination, 4 million passengers use the tram annually, with the majority travelling during the busy summer period. While the heritage trams that operate the service remain a popular tourist attraction for visitors, with new accessibility regulations coming into effect in 2019, Blackpool and Lancashire County Council began an extensive programme to identify a supplier for a new fleet of vehicles, which would enable ease of access and comfort for all passengers.
Cllr Simon Blackburn, Leader of Blackpool Council commented: “Providing a modern tram service that operates as an effective transport system while still offering visitors and residents the opportunity to enjoy uninterrupted views of our coastline is something unique to Blackpool. The new FLEXITY 2 model will help us improve access for people with prams or with wheel chairs for example and will run alongside our heritage trams.
“Today marks a significant milestone in modernising our tram way and I am delighted that Bombardier chose the new tram depot on our Promenade as a fitting backdrop for an international launch of their new model.”
Mike Kirby, Director of Transport and Strategic Highways at Lancashire County Council, said: "We've been very impressed by the professional approach of Bombardier in working with us and Blackpool to develop the tram scheme and design and manufacture the vehicles to our chosen specification. We're very much looking forward to the day when people on the Fylde coast and in Blackpool can enjoy using this tram for leisure and their regular journeys. The FLEXITY 2 vehicle offers the best tram technology available and demonstrates Lancashire and Blackpool's commitment to provide a world class transport system."
Germar Wacker, President of the Business Unit Light Rail of Bombardier Transportation commented: “We are delighted that Blackpool and Lancashire chose the FLEXITY 2, to bring the latest technology to such a revered tram operation in the UK. The FLEXITY 2 tram incorporates outstanding, proven features of Bombardier trams into one vehicle. FLEXITY 2 will ensure that all passengers in Blackpool and the Fylde coast can enjoy the best standards in comfort and safety.”
In addition to Croydon and Docklands in London, Nottingham and Manchester, Blackpool and Lancashire has become the latest location in the UK to operate Bombardier’s light rail solutions. The new FLEXITY 2 is equipped with Bombardier’s industry-leading BOMBARDIER ECO4 range of technologies making it an energy efficient and low carbon means of transit.
As well as having 100% low floor technology for optimal ride comfort, the FLEXITY 2 tram includes some new advanced features, such as touch-screens in the driver’s cab, reflecting the latest developments in intelligent digital technology.
“We travelled to every part of Europe to visit both vehicle manufacturers and other tram operations,” Paul Grocott, Programme Manager for Blackpool Council explained. “We were keen to look at everything the market had to offer and thereby ensure that we got the most competitive and best solution available. Ultimately we narrowed our search and selected Bombardier with the FLEXITY 2 tram.”
“In the end the technical message from Bombardier was extremely strong,” Mr Grocott added. “The company has a lot of experience, particularly in the UK and whilst this is a new vehicle type it is a derivative of what is best in the FLEXITY family.”
The FLEXITY 2 vehicles are eagerly anticipated by the general public in Blackpool and Lancashire, though this does not signal the end for the heritage trams, which will continue to run alternate services with the new vehicles. Passengers will be able to choose which vehicle they want to use, old or new, with five-minute intervals between each service.
Following Bombardier’s contract success in Blackpool and Lancashire, the Queensland Government in Australia has become the latest customer to order 14 new FLEXITY 2 trams for its Gold Coast Rapid Transit system. As part of the GoldlinQ consortium, Bombardier will also design, build, finance, operate and maintain the system.