The final hoop has been jumped through, the extension of the Blackpool Tramway to Blackpool North railway station has been given approval by the Secretary of State for Transport. Which is probably just as well considering preparatory works started earlier this month!
As we have reported extensively the short extension – running for approximately 600 metres – will leave the current Promenade tramway at North Pier (where junctions were installed as part of the upgrade project) before running through Talbot Square and up Talbot Road before terminating at a new tramstop close to Blackpool North railway station on the site of the Wilkinson’s store which will be demolished to make way for the trams. There will also be a new stop in Talbot Square.
With initial preparatory works having already started – much to the anger of local businesses and taxi drivers – it is hoped that the work will be completed in 16 months with the first trams running to North Station at Easter 2019. Trams are due to run from Fleetwood and Starr Gate to serve the extension although not all services along the Prom will make this detour.
There were a number of objections which were dealt with by the Secretary of State, all but one of which were rejected. The only change which has been made – and this amendment was made by Blackpool Council before the approval was given – is that the existing size of taxi rank will be retained in Market Street (it had originally been planned to reduce this and add a new smaller taxi rank in another location).
On all other objections – which ranged from the money could be better used providing a new bus station to the Blackpool South railway line should be converted to tram-train operation – were rejected with the Secretary of State convinced that the Council had fully investigated these potential alternatives. It is also key that as the DfT are not providing funding – this coming through the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund.
There should now be nothing in the way to stop Blackpool from becoming the latest UK tramway to enjoy an extension.