It’s a type of story that springs up every now and then across the UK – proposals to build a new tramway to help traffic congestion. This time around it’s Leicester which is considering the proposals but it isn’t the ruling Labour Party who are involved but rather the Conservatives – a party who currently have the grand total of one councillor!
The Conservative plan would see a nine mile network with 40 stops constructed but at present there is neither any official support or funding in place which does probably mean that this story will be filed under the nice but unlikely category along wit many similar articles we’ve written over the years!
The proposal being put forward would see two phases: West and East. The West phase would come first and would see 14 stops starting at the Enderby Park and Ride and head under Soar Valley Way to Fosse Park before heading up to the east of Narborough Road along the Great Central Way and to the De Montfort University campus. From there it would run towards St Nicholas’ Circle and along the old Leicester to Swannington rail line towards Glenfield. The line would then join the A50 Groby Road and continue on to Glenfield Hospital and County Hall before terminating at Beaumont Leys shopping centre.
The east phase is currently at an earlier stage of planning and exact details aren’t yet in place although it would likely to start at Jubilee Square in the city centre and then running down High Street to the Clock Tower. The line would then head via Charles Street to Haymarket bus station and to the main railway station on London Road and also serving Humberstone Gate East and looping back to the Clock Tower. It would also be planned to service Thurmaston, the University of Leicester, Clarendon Park, Knighton and Oadby.
And if all this wasn’t enough there would also be plans in the future to link to Birstall in the north and south to Market Harborough.
Cost estimates for the project have been given as £500 million and the Conservatives claim they have already discussed the matter with Chris Grayling at the Department for Transport. In local press reports when Jack Hickey, Leicester Conservatives Chairman, was questioned on how many passengers would be needed to make it viable he seemed non-committal saying that it possibly wouldn’t need as many as in Nottingham.
The ruling Labour Party have already described the plan as “daft”. Sir Peter Soulsby, Labour of Mayor of Leicester, said: “A tram system will not work in a city as compact as Leicester. Numerous professional studies have concluded it would not work and the Tories scribbling some lines on a map does nothing to change that. Their plan would also leave large sections of the city unserved. A tram would be a vast drain on public finances for years. It’s an absolutely daft idea.”
Regardless of whether it is a “daft” idea or not the chances of it getting off the ground look pretty remote as it would take a massive vote swing in May’s local elections to see the Conservatives gain enough seats with their current one against 52 Labour and one Liberal Democrat.