Trailer Towing Car 671
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New as Railcoach 281 in 1935, this tram had a very similar history to car 279 in our collection until it too was withdrawn for rebuilding into a Trailer towing car in 1960. The conversion work was completed in November 1960 and 281 returned to service, operating without its trailer, during the winter of 1960/1. By May 1961, 281 had been paired with trailer T1, a coupling that continued for the remainder of their working lives in Blackpool.
It soon became apparent that the shunting required at the depot each morning and the restriction of the "Twin cars" to the operate between the four loops on the tramway system was inefficient. During the summer of 1962 therefore unit 281 surrendered its controls at one end to the leading cab in the trailer - effectively transposing cab & bench seat and allowing this Twin car to be driven either from 281 or T1 and reversing at crossovers throughout the system. For October 1962, 281/T1 continued to operate in the all-cream livery but the unit was repainted over the winter months in the half green, half cream livery.
The Twin cars never really assumed their full operational potential and year round mileage was lower than the Railcoaches and Balloon cars in the tram fleet, despite their high seating capacity. Nobody would have thought that it would be 27 years before this unit (by now renumbered 671/681) would be painted again. After years of neglect, the Twin cars were repainted in the contemporary green & cream fleet livery, starting with 671/681 in 1990. Later, in 1997 trailer 681 had its cab crushed in an accident with a Centenary car and it was year 1999 before it was repaired and the unit returned to service.
In March 2003 the unit received a green & yellow version of the Metro Coastlines livery, which would prove to be its last repaint. As part of a thinning down of the tram fleet, this unit was 'mothballed' after 2007, but it did return to traffic for the 2010 illuminations. As the light rail era drew ever closer, the unit was withdrawn from service and sold during 2011 to Merseytravel. However, in a separate transaction, 671 was returned to Blackpool in February 2012 for preservation in an exchange deal that has resulted in the car's separation from its coupled trailer.