Blackpool trams on track for return to North Station

A welcome injection of cash will hopefully turn the dream of an extension of the Blackpool tramway to serve the town’s main railway station into a reality. Transport bosses announced that they would be providing over £16 million towards the construction of the new line, as part of a larger £90 million scheme to improve transport links on the Fylde Coast.

For some time there has been suggestion that a new tram route would be created, to connect the exisiting promenade tramway with the main train services in and out of Blackpool. During the upgrading of the system, sets of points were laid diverting from the main line at North Pier, although this was generally viewed as being an overly optimistic development. Apparently not so! At a local Council meeting held on Wednesday 18th September, it was announced that Transport for Lancashire have allocated a hefty £16.4 million towards the scheme to construct a new tramway route from the promenade to North Station. The project is expected to cost a total of £18.2 million, with Blackpool Council required to find the remaining £1.8 million to complete the ambitious project.

Transport for Lancashire is a new body made up of representatives from Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Council, Blackburn with Darwen Council, and the private sector led Lancashire Enterprise Partnership.  The exciting news comes as part of the group’s plans to invest in major improvements to road and rail transport links in Lancashire over the next decade, which is also expected to involve the construction of a new ‘Broughton Bypass’ to reduce traffic congestion on the A6 into Preston, and a significant contribution towards the creation of new roads to offer better access to the Warton Enterprise Zone site. The idea behind the tramway extension is to offer integrated public transport at the heart of Blackpool, making the modernised tram system much more attractive to commuters, and also enabling holidaymakers to catch a tram to their hotels and major attractions directly from the station. With electric trains due to start operating to Blackpool North Station within the next couple of years, this announcement is particularly timely and should provide yet another boost to a tramway which has gone from strength to strength since its upgrade to light rail standards.

Councillor John Jones, Blackpool Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways & Transport, told the local press: “This announcement is tremendous news for Blackpool. Extending the tramway to Blackpool North railway 
station to create a fully integrated transport system, extending right into the heart of Blackpool town centre, would be a very welcome step forward for residents and tourists alike. This is also tremendous news, more widely, for the whole of the Fylde coast and Lancashire and means jobs and an improved infrastructure to support economic growth.”

If Blackpool Council provide the remaining finance required to complete the work, construction could begin as early as 2015. Obviously the main goal is to create a modern public transport link, but who knows, maybe in a few years we may even see heritage trams running through Blackpool town centre?


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22 Responses to Blackpool trams on track for return to North Station

  1. Bob Hayes says:

    Excellent news! I too felt it was a tad optimistic installing stub points at Talbot Square. In this instance it is good to be proved wrong.

  2. Geoff, Isle of Man says:

    What amazing and welcome news. When, I wonder, shall we hear of plans for a line to Blackpool Airport?

  3. David Mee says:

    Fantastic news! Probably just a pipe dream, but imagine arriving at North Station for a heritage tram weekend and finding a twin car or balloon waiting to take you down to the promenade!

  4. CTC says:

    Certainly not a pipe dream. With Bryan at the healm anything is more than possible. 🙂

  5. Jamie Guest says:

    Does anyone know if this is just a branch from the prom or will it make a loop down to Gynn Square.


    • CTC says:

      The current phase is just a branch terminus at the station. Trams will travel into the the redesigned station. Allowing passengers to switch easily.

      So many potential extensions. Hopefully this is just the start

  6. The Dickson Road/ Talbot Road junction has just been relaid in cobblestones. Great planning if it has to be dug up again.
    “Tourists will be able to get off the train and straight on to a tram…..”
    There is a great difference in height between Blackpool North train tracks and Talbot Road.

  7. Nigel Pennick says:

    This is very good news. Installing the turnouts when the track was re-laid demonstrated faith in the project, and people coming off the new electric trains when the railway is electrified will be able to continue their journey be electric traction.

  8. Fantastic news! I think that the access to the north station will be no problem, it will more than likely be on a viaduct on the adjacent empty land with lift etc. adjacent to the station.

    I wonder if there are any considerations for the trams to replace the Blackpool south service through St Annes and Lytham, perhaps continuing round to Fleetwood via the old Fleetwood line? Though admittedly flyovers would be required to do this, and they can be pretty expensve!

  9. Tim McDermott says:

    Great News – but I see trouble ahead – I wonder what the local taxi drivers think about all their customers getting onto trams rather than into their taxis to go to and from the station?

  10. Nathan Honest says:

    While this is a positive announcement, I would of rather had the money going towards some sort of permanent museum/exhibition so the heritage fleet can be displayed to the public, perhaps at Starr Gate. With the beautiful restorations carried out on some trams recently it is utterly shambolic that they are locked away in a depot, only to emerge once every three months or so. A permanent heritage exhibition would allow enthusiasts and the public to view the trams when they are not running, as well raising awareness of the tramway’s 140 years of history.

    • freel07 says:

      So preservation of a few trams to please a small minority should stand in the way of decent public transport for the many? The heritage trams are safe and are used as and when needed. Surely the fact that they aren’t used too frequently will aid their survival.

      The construction of the link up Talbot Road to the station can only help the patronage of the tramway which is currently a little bit isolated from the town itself. It will also give a meaningful destination when the council sees fit to chop the system in half for the events south of North Pier.

      • Nathan Honest says:

        As outlined below in later comment, it does not make any economic sense to beautifully restore a tram for £1000-£2000, and then use it 4 or 5 times a year! Long periods out of use will not do them any good, either. If you store a tram for a long period of time in a running depot like Rigby Road, a layer of dust and grime will build up over sensitive electrical equipment, which will lead to a breakdown. For example, 272+T2 on the August Bank Holiday. As for the extension, does Blackpool really need a 250 yard extension up Talbot Road? It may bring the tramway closer to the town centre, but at a huge cost, and in these times of instant taxis available to everyone it doesn’t make much sense. Also, the heritage trams are not just there for enthusiasts, ask your average tourist which he/she prefers, a Flexity or 706? Even if the heritage trams only run on Sundays or something like that, it will be an improvement. Bryan and his team have done some great work on the heritage fleet recently, it is a mighty shame that they are not out more often. I have 99% confidence that the heritage service will expanded next year though, it has been very successful this year, it just needs more room to grow!

        • Andrew Waddington says:

          Hopefully the number of running days for the heritage fleet will increase, but if it does then I suspect it will be gradual. I have to remind you all that last year, heritage trams ran every weekend from Easter and then daily during the school summer holidays – which was a complete disaster as there simply wasn’t the level of demand to justify it, and the service made a huge loss. Frankly, we should be very thankful that ANY heritage trams ran in 2013 as there were calls for the heritage tours to be scrapped altogether, but what we have now was a compromise. If the service was losing money like it was in 2012, BTS wouldn’t be able to afford to restore trams like 227, 631 & 648 so its a case of which do you prefer?

  11. moz says:

    Shame, wished it stayed in uk, could have been converted to 750volt and used on midland metro or another uk tram systems. hope 272+t2 could back a visit to Wolverhampton for a short term loan.

  12. Nathan Honest says:

    I assume you are talking about 605, wrong article! The only thing stopping 605 from staying was the greed of it’s owners. As for 272+T2, running it in Wolverhampton would be hideously impractical as, unlike Blackpool, the Midland Metro is a second generation tramway and has none of the infrastructure to support a vintage tram, plus the health and safety brigade would be having duckfits about platform height, pedestrians, etc….
    Personally I’d like to see 272+T2 and 648 loaned to Crich for a while next year. They’d be storage issues, but they would probably run more miles in a fortnight at Crich than they would in a month at Blackpool. Back to my previous point, surely it is not cost effective to restore a tram for £1000-£2000 and then run them only on Bank Holidays. What we need is something more like last year, daily heritage operations in the summer hols at least, alongside the proven Heritage Bank Holiday weekends we already have. I’m not anti-upgrade but Blackpool is the only surviving first generation tramway in Britain today, and should be treated as such. San Francisco and Melbourne can do it, why not Blackpool?

  13. Pete Smith says:

    The heritage fleet do not need new destination blinds, ‘North Station’ is on there somewhere if you wind them for long enough!!!

  14. Clifford Stead says:

    The extension of the tram to North Station cannot come soon enough, having run the “gauntlet” with my family last night from the prom up to the station, trams will provide an economic boost to the town centre and aid regeneration. A train passengers arrival in Blackpool at present isn`t a nice one and give`s a poor impression of Blackpool which is a shame as it has a lot to offer the visitor.

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