Blackpool Council progress plans for North Station extension

Whilst a lot of excitement when it comes to the Blackpool Tramway tends to be concentrated on the heritage operations behind the scenes progress has been continuing on the proposed extension of the tramway up Talbot Road to Blackpool North railway station. This week Blackpool Council have revealed plans for the purchase of the Wilkinson’s building which would be demolished to make way for a proposed tramway terminal.

The extension of the tramway is planned to leave the current Promenade tramway opposite North Pier with two turnouts having been installed as part of the tramway upgrade and it would then travel up Talbot Road towards Blackpool North station but previously no details had been confirmed of where the terminus would be located. However with the plans revealed this week by Blackpool Council it would now appear that a tramway terminus will be built on or near the site of the Wilkinson’s superstore opposite the entrance to the railway station. These works would be part of the second phase of the Talbot Gateway Central Business District which has already seen a significant amount of investment although it has been long thought that the Wilkinson’s building doesn’t really fit in well will this new image. In addition to the terminus it is hoped to include residential, office and retail outlets alongside a hotel.

The plan to purchase the building which contains Wilkinson’s is due to be considered by the Council’s Executive on Monday 4th April and if approved it is expected to cost a maximum of £7.8 million (this includes not only the purchase of the building but also preparing the site for development). The three current occupants of the site – in addition to Wilkinson’s there is an Age UK retail store and a multi storey car park – would remain in situ whilst development plans are put in place.

As well as these plans further preparatory work is continuing with a business case for the money to build the line due to be presented to Transport for Lancashire and Lancashire Enterprise Partnership in the next few weeks. Provided that there are no unexpected obstacles to this actual construction work would likely commence in 2018.

The line would run directly up Talbot Road with a tramstop developed on Talbot Square and then at the junction with Dickson Road the line will travel away from the current highway as it joins the new terminus.

Cllr Fred Jackson, Blackpool Council’s Cabinet Member for Municipal Assets, said: “The first phase of the Talbot Gateway has seen a run down, dilapidated area transformed into an excellent first impression for people coming to Blackpool. At the same time, it has brought over one thousand workers into the town centre, helping the nearby local businesses and creating new jobs. However, the Wilkinson’s building now sticks out like a sore thumb and needs transforming in to somewhere that can help the business district thrive. Extending the tramline to the station will make it easier for commuters and tourists to move between the two and will also provide more opportunities to increase our visitor numbers – in turn creating more jobs and boosting the local economy.”

As part of the project to extend the tramway it is also expected that two further Flexity2 trams will be ordered from Bombardier.

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20 Responses to Blackpool Council progress plans for North Station extension

  1. Sam Flynn says:

    Fantastic to see Blackpool finally trying to catch up with the other modern tram networks. This extension has been long awaited and once completed will hopefully will bring confidence and get the ball rolling for further links such as Lytham St Annes.

  2. Andrew says:

    I hope the trams do go to to Lytham st annes

  3. Chris Mitchell says:

    I haven’t been to the area since redevelopment took place but I presume there wouldn’t be any chance of extending the tramway onto the railway with tram-trains?

  4. John Stewart says:

    I’d go for the opposite – extending the railway back to the site of Central Station and doubling the frequency from Preston. There doesn’t appear to be anything really vital in the way.

    • Sam Flynn says:

      True but probably less viable economically without spending hundreds of millions.

    • Kev says:

      Nothing vital? Apart from the whole central car park area, access roads etc!

      • John Stewart says:

        Vital obstructions would be housing, public buildings or valuable employment premises. Open land, whether roads or car parks, is something far more easily overcome and the “whole” car park is hardly going to be lost to a 10m wide corridor.

        • Kev says:

          If you think you can build a double track and station in 10m I think you may be mistaken. Didn’t the alignment come in along most of what is now Yeadon way, then seasiders (?) way? Where someone has built a football stadium? (I stand to be corrected on this). The car and coach parks in central are always full in summer and the illuminations so displacing that lot would be an issue.

          • Ken Walker says:

            The line along Yeadon Way was what was known as the Marton route which ran from Kirkham North Jn to Blackpool South avoiding the coastal stations. Blackpool South had 4 platforms in those days (until 1964).

          • Ken Walker says:

            No way are the railway powers that be going to extend the South line to Central after all the money they are pouring into the North route. I can’t see the council agreeing to it either considering it was they who forced Beeching to change his plan of closing North and keeping Central in the 60s, and the fact that they have in recent times talked about cutting the line further back from the present south station.
            From a technical point however John is not far out at 10m for the ‘corridor’ between the 2 locations, 2 tracks at 1435mm gauge = approx 3m, plus 2m for the appropriately named ’6 foot’ and the same for the combined ‘cess side’ ballast shoulders comes to total 7mm approx. Admittedly this is a ‘back of fag packet’ calculation but not that far out.

  5. Michael says:

    There is support for the North Station extension in the local press and elsewhere, seeing it as a means to link up the tramway with what will become an electrified mainline railway from Preston. My concern is how the extension will work in practice. The existing service is highly popular because it is convenient and speedy. If trams are to be diverted to run to North Station I can’t see that passengers from North Shore wishing to travel to the Tower and vice versa will welcome a possible ten minute diversion of their journey. Diverting alternate trams would mean that there would only be a half hourly through service in winter or 20 minute service in summer and there is potential for confusion here for passengers. There has been no suggestion that an extra service would be operated to serve North Station, superimposed on the existing one, nor would an extra service be probably justified. It will be as though, on Metrolink, every tram (or alternate trams) were to operate to and from Eccles via Media City all through the day.

    • Kev says:

      It has been said that the service will run as a shuttle, possibly from Bispham.

    • Sam Flynn says:

      As far as I’m aware the existing service will be unchanged with two additional routes provided: Station-Bispham and Station-Pleasure Beach. The new purchased vehicles will make this possible.

      • Kev says:

        Only two Flexities are to be purchased, surely that makes only one or the other viable? Interestingly if they use Pleasure Beach and Heritage maintains the same pattern as now into the future they will trip each other up!

  6. Nigel Pennick says:

    One great advantage of trams over buses for longer journeys is that most lines run direct, without interminable detours ’round the houses’ like so many bus routes do. In this case it seems that there is a trade-off between additional passenger journeys generated by the extension and length of journey overall. But it is good to see that Blackpool’s trams will again serve a destination in the town and not just the promenade.

  7. John Gilbert says:

    Excellent that the extension to North station is at last progressing. But not to be ready until 2018!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh dear me!! British bureaucracy!!