It has been a while since we last had an update from the proposal to return trams to Preston but its back in the news again as planning permission has recently been given for the construction of a demonstration line. This line will be 200 metres long and will be built using part of the old Longridge railway between Skeffington Road and West View Leisure Centre in Ribbleton.
The company behind the proposals remains as Preston Trampower and they hope that they will be able to start construction work in early 2021. If this timeline is possible the suggestion is that demonstration rides can be offered by the end of next year.
The demonstrator line would include the laying of new track, overhead lines and a new platform with new lighting and an adjacent cycleway and footpath also provided. The construction work will be undertaken by Eric Wright Civil Engineering.
Lincoln Shields, a director at Preston Trampower, said: “Our plans to bring clean and sustainable tram services back to Preston have been a long time in the making and we are really gathering momentum now. Preston is one of England’s fastest growing cities and a modern tram system would deliver huge benefits for the city, unlocking economic growth and offering safe, clean and reliable transport. We’re thrilled to have secured planning consent for our demonstration line which will help people to see first-hand how it can enhance and regenerate the city. Our determination to make the Guild Line and other future routes a reality remains undiminished. This is a project that makes absolute sense for a forward-thinking, ambitious and growing city like Preston.”
The demonstrator line is just the start of Preston Trampower’s plans as they still have ambitions to introduce a 5km long Guild Line running from the M6 motorway at Junction 31A, down the line of the old Longridge railway, through Ribbleton and Deepdale into the heart of the city’s University Quarter.
There would be 12 stops on the full line at key sites in the city which would include Deepdale Retail Park, West View Leisure Centre and the University of Central Lancashire. There would be a 6 minute frequency with an estimated 1.8 million trips made each year. Its estimated to cost £25 million and would be privately funded. Cheshire based Snowball Alternative Finance has been appointed to seek green investment from their network of high-net-worth individuals and entrepreneurs.
The Preston Trampower scheme has had many false starts (including two previously approved planning applications in 2010 and 2016) but could this latest planning application approval finally see trams return to the city for the first time since 1935?