After much delay and continued refusal by Preston City Council approval has finally been given for a tram line in the city although if anyone wanted to ride on the line they will be disappointed as it will only be used for “training purposes, as a demonstrator for other local authorities and to raise public awareness of trams as a sustainable mode of transport”.
It has seemed that the plans to return trams to Preston have been out in public for ever but it was 2010 when the Trampower group first put the proposal forward and what has now been approved is a small part of that proposal. Permission has been granted for a section of disused train line between Skeffington Road and Deepdale Street (approximately 0.8 miles) to be used for a short demonstration line. As well as bringing the track up to spec a tram station, platform and depot will also be constructed on a former coal yard in the Deepdale area of the city.
Trampower Ltd are already planning for an extension of this short line to run through to the Red Scar industrial estate (near junction 31A on the M6) and it is hoped that if this is approved – the application should be submitted in December – that passenger journeys will then be allowed.
Lewis Lesley, technical director of Preston Trampower said: “Bringing trams back to Preston after more than 80 years was always going to be an ambitious undertaking, but hopefully this planning consent can lead to bigger and better things in the future. We still believe this exciting pilot project can act as a precursor to a fully operational tram system for Preston that can be easily extended across the city and link up to other transport hubs.”
Presumably for the time being the sole City Class tram – as seen in Blackpool and Birkenhead in the past – will be the vehicle which provides these demonstration runs but if Trampower’s ambitious plans lift off extra trams will be needed for a public service which they hope would link the railway station with the north of the city.
There is still a long way to go before trams are truly back in Preston but we are at least a small step closer to that journey being completed.