It has been considered the blocker to the opening of the Blackpool North Railway Station tramway extension and it now appears that the Wilkinson’s store on Talbot Road will start to be demolished in April leading to the next stage of construction works. The news of the demolition comes at a time when local newspaper, The Gazette, have run a story revealing how the line will open two years late in 2021 and of 115 defects in the original construction.
The short extension of the tramway from North Pier through Talbot Square and up Talbot Road to a new interchange adjacent to the railway station had originally been earmarked for opening at Easter 2019 but high profile delays to the scheme led to this being an impossible deadline to achieve. Blackpool Council had been quiet about the scheme but shortly before Christmas it was confirmed that Wilkinson’s would be closing allowing for its demolition and then construction work getting underway for the new tram terminus and hotel complex. At the time of this announcement it was also revealed that it was hoped trams would start running in 2021 but the latest “expose” in The Gazette apparently has only uncovered this information during their investigation into what has affected the project.
This investigation has also revealed 115 defects on the initial construction, which although many are relatively minor do add up to quite a catalogue of issues which had to be resolved by the contractors. Included in the defects have been issues with the finish of the surface, damage to ducting, misalignment of kerbs and the construction of the tramstop in Talbot Square not being to the specifications required. If you want to see the complete list of defects these can be found on The Gazette website.
One of the rumours circulating over the construction of the tramway has been that the tracks had been laid too close together but these have been denied by the Council and would appear to have been just that – rumours.
As well as the demolition of Wilkinson’s and the subsequent construction of a tramstop there further work along Talbot Road will also be required – most notably the erection of overhead.
With 2021 now looking the most likely opening date – although nothing is certain about this just yet – we will keep an eye on what happens in the next year or so.