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About the Tram of the Year

Conceived as a bit of fun at the end of the year the British Trams Online Tram of the Year originally sought to find the tramcar which had done something "special" over the previous 12 months. There has never been a full definition of what "special" actually means in this case but over the years tramcars which have won have had a repaint, entered service after a repaint or gone on loan away from their home tramway to name but there examples.

In 2012 the contest was expanded to include two new categories - Event of the Year and Tramway of the Year - and then in 2014 a fourth category was voted for the first time - Light Rail Vehicle of the Year.

At the end of November each year nominations are opened for a week to allow anyone to put forward suggestions for each of the categories before our "expert panel" (which is probably neither expert nor a panel!) convene to make a decision of what should be on the final shortlist, with each category normally having around five items to vote on. Voting takes place for approximately six weeks from the start of December until mid January and we then name the lucky winners.

British Trams Online Tram of the Year 2017

Tram of the Year: And the winners are...

Douglas Bay Horse Tramway 36 – which returned to service on the very last day of the 2017 season after a major overhaul – has been voted the Tram of the Year (Traditional) for 2017 after six weeks of public voting. Meanwhile the other categories have seen victories for Stagecoach Supertram 399 202 in the Tram of the Year (Modern) category with the Statfold Barn Railway winning both Tramway of the Year and Event of the Year.

The victory of Douglas Bay Horse Tramway 36 in the original and main category is the first time that a tram from the Isle of Man has been voted to the accolade. It may have only run briefly on the last day of the operating season but the high quality restoration work – mainly taking place at the Manx Electric Railway’s Derby Castle workshops – was obviously popular with those of you who voted this year. There is little doubt that the condition of 36 is as good as it has been for a long time and with more trams currently being restored around the island this will be the best the fleet has been for a while.

36 was just over 37% of the vote beating Burton & Ashby 14 into second place (25%). The entry into service of 14 was one of the highlights of the year with the tram having only returned from Detroit and being restored to operational condition at the end of 2015. Next was Blackpool Brush 621 – following its overhaul and return to service in September – followed by Bournemouth 85 – which had joined the national collection at Crich. The list was completed by the second Blackpool Brush shortlisted, 623, and finally Seaton 15.

The domination of Manchester Metrolink in the Tram of the Year (Modern) category was ended with the first of the tram-trains to enter service for Stagecoach Supertram, 399 202, gaining just over 54% of the total vote. Manchester Metrolink 3064 received the remainder of the votes.

Although Burton & Ashby 14 was denied in the Tram of the Year category the Statfold Barn Railway wasn’t to be denied in either of the other two categories it was nominated in walking away with Tramway of the Year (44%) and Event of the Year (36%). In Tramway of the Year the fact that it became the first new heritage tramway in the UK for many years was enough to see off the challenge of Manchester Metrolink (35%) and Edinburgh Trams (19%).

Meanwhile the first day of Burton & Ashby 14 in service at Statfold Barn was voted in as Event of the Year with 36% of you deeming this as the best event during 2017. The annual Anniversary Spectacular in Blackpool came in second with 26% of votes followed by another regular event, Tram Day at Crich (21%) and finally Totally Models in Blackpool received 16% of the votes.

And so that is it for another year. Congratulations to all the winners and commiserations to those who didn’t quite get enough votes. Tram of the Year will return at the end of this year so don’t forget to keep your eyes out for anything which should be nominated for the 2018 contest!

Tram of the Year: The Results

Tram (Traditional of the Year)

1. Douglas Bay Horse Tramway 36 – 169 votes (37.39%)
2. Burton & Ashby 14 – 116 votes (25.66%)
3. Blackpool Brush 621 – 72 votes (15.93%)
4. Bournemouth 85 – 46 votes (10.18%)
5. Blackpool Brush 623 – 39 votes (8.63%)
6. Seaton 15 – 10 votes (2.21%)

32 votes rejected due to multiple votes (caused no change to ranking)

Tram (Modern) of the Year

1. Stagecoach Supertram 399 202 – 180 votes (54.38%)
2. Manchester Metrolink 3064 – 151 votes (45.62%)

22 votes rejected due to multiple votes (caused no change to ranking)

Tramway of the Year

1. Statfold Barn Railway – 165 votes (44.24%)
2. Manchester Metrolink – 134 votes (35.92%)
3. Edinburgh Trams – 74 votes (19.84%)

27 votes rejected due to multiple votes (caused no change to ranking)

Event of the Year

1. Statfold Barn Railway: Burton & Ashby 14 1st day in service – 138 votes (36.03%)
2. Blackpool Tramway: Anniversary Spectacular – 100 votes (26.11%)
3. Crich Tramway Village: Tram Day – 83 votes (21.67%)
4. Blackpool Tramway: Totally Models – 62 votes (16.19%)

26 votes rejected due to multiple votes (caused no change to ranking)

Tram of the Year (traditional): The Shortlist

Blackpool Brush 621
The most extensive work completed in the Rigby Road workshops since the Heritage Tram Tours operation began 621 returned to service on 22nd September as part of the prelude to the Anniversary Spectacular weekend and made a fine sight running on the Prom for the first time since 2004. It was used over the whole weekend but its use since then has been limited with further attention to its interior. It wasn't the only Brush Car to be a star this year and we just couldn't split two of them so...

Blackpool Brush 623
The first of two Brush Cars to visit Blackpool to mark the 80th anniversary of the class, 623 arrived in July from the Heaton Park Tramway and entered service on Friday 14th July on a special evening operation. It was then used frequently through the summer culminating in its use over all three days of the Anniversary Spectacular weekend in September. In its Wartime Green and Cream livery 623 always turns heads wherever it runs and of course is a two time winner of this category as well.

Bournemouth 85
It's a tram which hasn't run in service at all in 2017 (or indeed since the 1950s) but it's arrival at Crich in September enables the museum to display a tram at a non-standard gauge. It would have been all too easy for the tram to arrive and be put straight onto display in the Exhibition Hall but it ended up being a star exhibit at Tram Day, displayed alongside other non-standard gauge trams and fellow Hampshire tram, Southampton 45. It is now safely in the Exhibition Hall, where it will remain for years to come.

Burton & Ashby 14
It was only in December 2014 that 14 returned to the UK having been purchased at auction from Detroit where it had been since 1980. Fast forward to Saturday 25th March 2017 and the tram enetered service at the Statfold Barn Railway with a special line having been specially constructed for it to run on! It was the first time it had carried passengers in the UK for 90 years and each journey was packed to capacity as visitors to the special Open Day were happy to get the chance to travel on board the tram. It may have only operated on a few occasions during 2017 with the Railway only opening on limited days but the repatriation and rapid return to service is a remarkable achievement.

Douglas Bay Horse Tramway 36
It only operated on the last day of the 2017 season but 36 is included on the list following the completion of its extensive overhaul in the Derby Castle workshops of the Manx Electric Railway. With Isle of Man Railways now operating the tramway this is the first of the trams to enjoy such extensive work for many, many years - if not forever! The high standard of workmanship is clear for all to see and with more trams enjoying this care and attention the fleet will be at probably its highest standard since they were originally built!

Seaton 15
It was a rebuild which it would be fair to say hasn't been the most popular with MER crossbench style 17 rebuilt into a fully enclosed saloon and renumbered 15 in the process. However, 15 has quickly become a firm favourite with both crews and visitors to Seaton and is the wet weather tram of choice. It just qualifies for this list having entered service in December 2016.

Tram of the Year (modern): The Shortlist

Manchester Metrolink 3064
M5000 3064 became the first tram to carry passengers on the full Second City Crossing on Sunday 26th February 2017 bringing a conclusion to the so-called "Big Bang" extensions of Manchester Metrolink.

Stagecoach Supertram 399 202
It has taken a while but on Thursday 15th September 2017 the first of the Citylink tram-trains built for the tram-train pilot between Sheffield and Rotherham entered passenger service. The first of the class to carry passengers was 399 202 with the vehicle first being named Theo, after the mascot of the Sheffield Children's Hospital charity, and then briefly operating that afternoon. It was then used on a charity tour three days later as the era of the Citylink tram started on Supertram. Next stop Rotherham...eventually!

Tramway of the Year: The Shortlist

Edinburgh Trams
2017 has seen a new service introduced on Edinburgh Trams with more trams now running throughout the week as the popularity of the line between the Airport and City Centre continues to increase. Passenger surveys have also shown the line to be the most popular across the UK. Coupled with the start of commercial advertising on the trams and the hoped for approval of the extension to Leith getting closer 2017 has been a good year for Edinburgh.

Manchester Metrolink
With the opening of the Second City Crossing at the end of February 2017 the "Big Bang" extensions were finally completed and Metrolink has firmly established itself as the UK's largest tramway. There is no doubt that there have been challenges too with service disruption an all too familiar news item but the conclusion of the initial expansion of the network warrants its inclusion.

Statfold Barn Railway
It isn't often that a new heritage tramway opens in the UK but that is exactly what happened in 2017 with the Statfold Barn Railway opening a short operating line for Burton & Ashby 14. It may only operate a few times a year but to provide a home for 14 to strut its stuff makes this another valuable addition to the UK heritage tram scene.

Event of the Year: The Shortlist

Blackpool Tramway: Totally Models
In a special events calendar which normally continues with highly succesful events year upon year, 2017 saw a new event added. Taking place in June in the former slot occupied by Totally Transport, Totally Models saw a mix of the usual Blackpool Gold timetable with extended running through to Starr Gate along with a model exhibition at Rigby Road and behind the scenes tours.

Blackpool Tramway: Anniversary Spectacular
Now firmly established in the calendar the Anniversary Spectacular weekend in Blackpool started on the Friday afternoon with all four Brush Cars in services on a special service to Cleveleys. This included the debuts of 621 and 630 along with 623 and 631. Then the weekend saw the most intensive heritage service of the year incluidng full length running and there was also the chance to see behind the scenes at both Rigby Road and Starr Gate Depots with a tram shuttle linking the two.

Crich Tramway Villgae: Tram Day
The big event of the year at the home of the National Tramway Museum again followed the usual pattern of rare trams on display and an intensive tram service. The highlight this year was the display of Bournemouth 85 before it was tucked away in the Exhibition Hall with trams such as Derby 1 and Hill of Howth 10 displayed alongside.

Statfold Barn Railway: First day of Burton & Ashby 14
Saturday 25th March 2017 was a historic day as not only did a new heritage tramway start operating but it was also the first time in 90 years that Burton & Ashby 14 had carried passengers in the UK. Although not specifically a tram special event the historic nature of the day warrants this day to be included on the shortlist.

Previous Contests


Tramcar - Blackpool Marton 31
LRV - Manchester Metrolink 3120
Tramway - Douglas Bay Horse Tramway
Event - Douglas Bay Horse Tramway: 140th Anniversary


Tramcar - Liverpool 245
LRV - Manchester Metrolink 3100
Tramway - Blackpool Tramway
Event - Blackpool Tramway: 130th Anniversary


Tramcar - Blackpool Pantograph 167
LRV - Manchester Metrolink 1007
Tramway - Crich Tramway Village
Event - Crich Tramway Village: Electric 50


Tramcar - Blackpool Boat 227
Tramway - Heaton Park Tramway
Event - Rejuvenation of Blackpool Heritage Service


Tramcar - Blackpool Brush 623
Tramway - Blackpool
Event - Glasgow 50 at Crich


Tramcar - Blackpool Marton VAMBAC 11


Tramcar - Liverpool 762


Tramcar - Blackpool Western Train 733+734


Tramcar - Blackpool Balloon 717


Tramcar - Blackpool Brush 623


Tramcar - Leeds 345


Tramcar - Trampower Tram


Tramcar - Blackpool Illuminated Frigate 736 & Nottingham Express Transit 203 (joint winners)


Tramcar - Leeds 602

This page was last updated on Sunday 14th January 2018

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