Originally due to open at Easter 2019 there can be no getting around the fact that the Blackpool Tramway extension to Blackpool North Railway Station is late and as things stand at the moment the Council have given no indication of when we might be able to enjoy a ride along Talbot Road. However, there could now be a little chink of light at the end of the tunnel as the Council’s development partner, Muse Developments, have started the process to find a contractor to build the new Holiday Inn hotel due to be built on the site of Wilkinson’s – along with the new tram terminus.
The press release on the subject is still a little vague about things but it is planned that a contractor will be appointed in October 2019, with work starting in spring 2020 and the project completed in 2022. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be 2022 before trams are running as there are possibilities ahead of this but this is the closest we have come to any official word since the Easter 2019 deadline was missed.
As we may have mentioned once or twice the tramway extension runs along Talbot Road as far as where the Wilkinson’s store is currently situated with this due to be demolished and a tram terminus built along with the new Holiday Inn. Wilkinson’s is due to move to a new development at the Houndshill Shopping Centre but with this not having progressed it has remained resolutely in place and as far as the tramway is concerned, in the way!
Presumably the fact that work on the site is said to be started in Spring 2020 Wilkinson’s will be moving by that time which will enable the building to be demolished and major progress made on the tramway extension.
There are some suggestions that as part of the project a temporary tram stop could be built before it is possible to build the full transport interchange. If so we could see trams running possibly by early 2021 (bearing in mind this isn’t the only work still needed on the line) with the worst case scenario of a service by 2022 (based on when the hotel is due to be completed). Whichever date it is there is no getting away from the fact that this relatively simple extension will be significantly late when it does finally open.
Aside from the new terminus other work on the line does still need to be completed. This includes the full fitting out of the single platform stop in Talbot Square and the installation of overhead wires. If a temporary stop is provided it also begs the question of will there will be further disruption when the final stop is built?
It may still be pretty unclear as to exactly what is happening but at least this news is a bit of progress which will hopefully lead to trams running at some point in the future.