Wirral Waters tram scheme back in the offing?

Many of you will remember at the start of this decade an ambitious plan to extend the current Birkenhead Heritage Tramway to the proposed Wirral Waters development with several redundant Blackpool trams purchased to be converted for operation on this line. This plan – which was being developed by Merseytravel – was formally abandoned in 2014 which led to the Blackpool trams mostly heading to Fleetwood and it seemed the chances of an extended line on the Wirral were at and end. However, the Wirral Waters development is now back in the news and Peel Holdings are keen on once again developing a tram line to link the project with other local transport.

Known as the StreetCar Project the exact details of what they are proposing is still fairly sketchy (despite a flashy website having been developed) but what is known is that they would like to extend the heritage tramway to Tower Road. And that’s about all the precise details that are known at the moment.

The StreetCar Project is part of the wider Tower Road Streetscape proposals which would cover the public highway between “C” Bridge and the junction with Rendell Street. It is said that the existing streetscape (pavements, carriageways and pedestrian refuges) is now dated having been last updated in the 1990s and as there is new development being delivered it is considered an appropriate time to look at how it can be improved to suit the needs of existing and new businesses and users.

A consultation has been launched to find out the views of the public into the wider ambitious plan, including the StreetCar proposals, and how the area can be improved. It is said that the initial proposals have been drafted and funding has been secured from the DfT National Productivity Investment Fund. It is a joint project between Peel Holdings (through their Wirral Waters project team) and Wirral Council.

If everything goes according to plan – and let’s be honest things certainly haven’t with this plan yet – the project could be completed within the next five years. SO, if you believe that an extended tram line could be running by the middle of the next decade.

There are many, many questions left to be answered about the StreetCar plan – such as what happens to the Birkenhead Heritage Tramway and where are they going to find the trams (sorry streetcars) to operate the service (Peel Holdings do own one tram themselves, in the form of Blackpool 626 but surely more will be needed?) – but could we be about to see a new tramline in the UK?

* Details about the Wirral Waters project can be found on their official website.

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