Blackpool's trams run along the coast from Starr Gate to Fleetwood, a line that was once part of larger tram network in the area. Much of the route runs alongside the seafront, briefly turning inland for the last few miles before reaching the coast again at Fleetwood.
The line demonstrates different types of tram route which were typical in first-generation tramways up and down the country before their closure: there is street running (around Fleetwood and a short stretch in Blackpool); paved reserved track alongside a road, open to pedestrians but not road traffic (most of the way between Starr Gate and Gynn Square); reserved right-of-way on ballasted track (Gynn Square to Rossall); and an interurban-style alignment not following a road (Rossall to Fleetwood).
The terminus at Starr Gate is on a short single-track loop, which allows trams to return north to Fleetwood without the driver changing ends. North from here, trams run alongside the Promenade, with the road on one side and the beach on the other. The tram lines are set in concrete on a part of the Promenade which is not open to other road traffic, but is not segregated from pedestrians.
At Pleasure Beach there is a double-track loop which allows short workings from the north to be terminated, and for trams to return to Blackpool and the northern end of the line without the driver changing ends, as at Starr Gate. There is also an inspectors' hut here. Heading north, trams reach Manchester Square, where there is a double-track spur along Lytham Road to the depot in Rigby Road.
Trams from the north reach the depot via a double-track spur along Lytham Road, which turns into Hopton Street. There is no connection from the south. In Hopton Street the line becomes single track, and then fans out into several tracks at the depot throat.
There is a second way for trams to reach the depot, which is the Foxhall route. a single track heads out of the depot in the opposite direction to the Lytham Road route, along Blundall Street and then Princess Street, and connects with the 'main line' on the Promenade at Foxhall Square. This line, which is the oldest electrified street tramway in the world, is rarely used. The most recent regular usage was January–April 2005, when the Lytham Road line was shut for track renewal.
North of Manchester Square, trams continue along the Promenade to North Pier. Along the way, the tramway serves seafront attractions such as the Aquarium, Louis Tussaud's Waxworks, Central and North Piers and the most famous of them all, Blackpool Tower. At North Pier stop there are three tracks, to facilitate short workings at the busiest times in the holiday season.
After North Pier, the tram tracks briefly join the road, before rejoining the paved reserved right-of-way at the side of the road. Trams run along this reservation, following Blackpool's North Shore, between the Promenade and the seafront, to Gynn Square tram stop.
North from Gynn Square, the tramway once again follows the North Shore. After Cabin, the paved track gives way to a ballasted reserved right of way, broken only by a short sections of paved track at Bispham and Little Bispham stops.
The tram stop at Bispham has three tracks, and there is a substantial shelter building on the north-bound side. Little Bispham also has a shelter building although a smaller one, and north of this stop there is a single-track reversing loop. After Little Bispham the line curves slightly inland from the coast, although the sea is never far away.
On the approach to Cleveleys, the line crosses the northbound carriageway of the A587, at a traffic light-controlled junction, to adopt a position in the central reservation. The line at this point is on ballasted track, except for the stop at Cleveleys which is on paved track.
After the tram stop at Cleveleys, the line crosses over the southbound carriageway of the A587, to a ballasted alignment at the side of the road. Unlike the tramway south of Little Bispham, where there are very few crossings (there is nowhere to go to other than the sea), the section of reserved track north of Cleveleys crosses a number of minor roads at unprotected crossings. At Thornton Gate there is a set of Permanent Way sidings which are no longer in use.
After Rossall School tram stop, the line veers away from the road and follows a route which passes playing fields and the backs of houses, crossing a number of roads. On the outskirts of Fleetwood, between Heathfield Road and Ash Street, the line runs on segregated ballasted track sandwiched between Radcliffe Road and Copse Road. There is one final road crossing, of Station Road, which is protected by traffic lights. Just south of Ash Street there is a crossover which allows trams to terminate and reverse without traversing the streets of Fleetwood. Ash Street is on paved track, and is the end of the reserved track. The stop here is now known as Fishermans Walk.
The final section of the tram line, from Ash Street to the terminus at Fleetwood Ferry, is on-street. Trams share the road with other road traffic. North of Fishermans Walk stop, trams run the length of Lord Street, which turns into North Albert Street.
The very end of the line is a short single-track loop. The north-bound and southbound tracks part company at the junction of North Albert Street and Pharos Street. Northbound trams continue along North Albert Street before turning right into Bold Street, and right again into Queen's Terrace. Here, on the Wyre Estuary, looking out to sea, is the tram terminus. The stop, Fleetwood Ferry, serves the seasonal ferry across the Wyre to Knott End—the ferry to Larne (Northern Ireland) is a short walk away.
After departing Fleetwood Ferry for the return to Blackpool, trams turn right into Pharos Street, which is restricted to buses and trams only. At the end of Pharos Street the tramway becomes double-track again.
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