Monday, August 31, 2009

Clippy's log - page 38

25/8 1:01pm. We terminated short at Cleveleys, and are waiting for the next service. There's hardly any parking at any of these shops, maybe that's why the tram is so popular. Other than that it's not a good urban service - slow, inconvenient to catch due to traffic. We get on another balloon car and sit on the lower deck. Still not much motor noise coming through. The arrangement is almost a classic drop centre, with wind barriers guarding the saloon on one side and a stairwell on the other. The doorways are about 1.2m wide, a lot more than most trams, and have a single bifolding door each. Manually operated, by the connie only. So there are two connies per car. Cost recovery on these services must be pretty bad. Ride quality on the lower deck is better - or else the track to Fleetwood is better than the city track.

1:21pm. We're now in Fleetwood itself, and there's one lane each way (plus on-street parking) for trams, buses and cars. Must be bad if anyone's trying to park.

1:30pm. Fleetwood Pier terminus is a balloon loop. I wonder why they bother, having double ended cars. The locals seem accustomed to flange squeal.

1:57pm. We get on a Centenary single decker car - it has its panto mounted on a sort of scaffold amidships. Seats are coloured patterned fabric like refurb trains, but with actual padding. The interior is very bus-like, including fixed coach layout seats, which is odd as it's a double ended vehicle. The front door is wide and bifolding like a MAN Mk.2. The middle exit door is even wider. The pax are obviously used to one-man crewing on these cars, the driver has to keep saying "Take a seat, show your tickets to the conductor". There's only one on this trip though. The motor sound is weird - about the same volume as an A/B (these things are the same vintage) but more variation in pitch. Almost like the hum-with-a-bit-of-a-buzz wave form of the A/B with the pitch-going-up-with-speed of a W. Wheel on rail sound is like a W.

2:05pm. Turning back onto the main drag of Fleetwood there's a bus on the corner. It's within the painted lines but the driver doesn't want to risk hitting it. We sit there for about 5min - nobody thinks of getting out and talking to the bus driver! At one point a bus overtakes us on the other side of the road, sweeps around at about 30km/h and stops for pax - nose just ahead of the bus blocking us, tail in the other lane blocking both sides of the road! It's like what thaitransit says about buses in Bangkok...

2:19pm. There's quite a few crossings on the interurban section, all totally unprotected. Depending how insistent the cars are, trams have to come almost to a halt. Bad. Even traffic lights would be something.

2:25pm. Thornton Gate has a passing loop, several small departmental-looking buildings, and a siding in which there's a lot of construction work going on. I wonder what it all is. One of the buildings calls itself a substation but there's no wires going in and out. Current working theory is that it's a former tram depot under demolition.

2:40pm. We get another Centenary tram. There are a total of TWO next stop buttons, one at each centre door.

3:02pm. At North Pier the tram lines merge with the road again - crossing over the traffic to do it! The northbound track is shared with road traffic, then there's the southbound track, then the ordinary road. Must be bad in peak time.

3:14pm. We board an open boat car for Pleasure Beach! It has wooden slatted seats and a whistle like a steamboat. The air compressor is like the other types. Motor, brake and wheel/rail noise also. The connie is great - "No charge for the kid, he can wash the windows for us. Oh, we haven't got any!"; "Take a seat, I'll be along to rob you in a minute".

3:20pm. There's a spur line near Foxhall Square - maybe the depot?

3:46pm. Starr Gate - another balloon stop terminus. There's two intermediate ones too, but short working trams sometimes change ends. Totally weird. Maybe it dates from the days of swinging the pole to change ends???

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