Preston Trampower project “did not work out”

It appears that the latest plans by the Trampower consortium have fizzled out, with proposals for a new demonstration line at Preston seemingly having been axed. The organisation’s website has now been taken offline, with anyone attempting to view it now greeted by a message explaining that the account has been suspended due to unpaid web hosting fees. It is understood that the whole idea has now been dropped by the founder of Trampower.

There has been considerable discussion on the Preston Trampower scheme at which has unearthed some interesting snippets about the project. A forum member who reportedly attempted to register with Trampower to receive news updates on the project by email has reposted a message from its founder, stating: “I’ve given up. Sorry it did not work out”. It is quite remarkable to see such an ambitious project end in such understated manner, whilst the use of the word “I” – seemingly suggesting one person was solely behind the scheme – is also noteworthy!

The original proposal involved a light rail scheme linking Preston’s railway station with Fulwood Junction 31 on the M6, powered by renewable energy sources, with further expansions also mooted. As little as two years ago it had been suggested that a tramway could be up and running by 2012 subject to approval of a £9 million Government grant, which needless to say, was not forthcoming. The idea was put forward by the Trampower group, who are probably best known for their attempts to develop a low-cost modern tramcar to be built in the UK. The prototype ‘City Class’ articulated tram, known as 611, was tested in Blackpool and Birkenhead but this came to an abrupt end when it caught fire during a period of trial running on the Blackpool tramway. Since then the tram is believed to have been extensively rebuilt and repainted in a new blue livery, but with the future plans of its owners now seemingly in tatters, the future of their prototype vehicle now also seems bleak.

However, after this article went ‘live’, it was discovered that the Preston Trampower Twitter page is still live and has been updated as recently as October 22nd, with claims that a short section of tramway will be opening in Preston next year! It was claimed that infrastructure works would commence on 21st October; an odd statement, as this date had already passed when it was announced. The Twitter page boasted that ‘Prestonians will be able to experience travel on a modern tram for the first time in the City of Preston in early 2014’, and that the ‘initial 1.25km length of track is the Demo line and is to be completed by early 2014’. It remains to seen which of the recent statements proves to be more accurate!

The sole vehicle created by 'Trampower', prototype car 611, seen on test at Blackpool during the 2006 Totally Transport event, some months before it was gutted by fire. (Photo by Tony Waddington)


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11 Responses to Preston Trampower project “did not work out”

  1. David Blake says:

    Interesting this. Only within the last 3 weeks, a talk has been given on 2 occasions by a representative of this scheme as part of Lancashire County Council’s recent ‘Changing Tracks’ programme of railway related events, with which I have also had some involvement. I was unfortunately not present at either of these talks but did receive reports from 2 people who attended. There was definitely an expectation given that the scheme would go ahead and talk of a test track being set up in the near future, I think in the Deepdale sidings area attached to the former Preston-Longridge railway line. I believe one of the talks, at Longridge Library, was very well attended. The talks had been booked to take place several months in advance. I will see if I can come back to you with some clearer information.

  2. Ken Walker says:

    It is a disgrace that the Government refused to support an attempt to build low cost ‘home-grown’ LRT vehicles all for the sake of a relatively trivial £9 million, considering they keep going on about getting everybody back to work. Compared to the £50 billion that they want to waste on a high speed rail link that few people want and even fewer will be able to afford, this was chicken feed. Lower cost trams = more trams can be afforded. Also considering they keep going on about environmental issues surely it would be better to build trams in this country rather than shipping them across Europe.
    As for future employment for the Trampower vehicle. Would Blackpool Transport not consider taking it on again? After all they may need extra resources when the North Station spur opens.

    • Not the Centre of Universe says:

      Read the RAIB reports…

    • Paul says:

      TramPower did get a lot of support from Blackpool Council and Blackpool Transport (at the time the project started the only likely customer). While it is a laudable aim to support British Industry, and potentially reduce costs of Light Rail, TramPower clearly wasn’t the right project to deliver that. Once it had been found that their answer to reducing costs was apparently taking certain liberties with construction methods and materials it was effectively dead in the water and highly unlikely to be passed as safe for public service…

  3. Nigel Pennick says:

    There seems to be a long history of worthy projects like this coming to nothing, probably owing to underinvestment (lack of money) by the promoters. They are all too often promoted as the solution to our problems, but if anything happens at all outside the test track, they have a limited existence, and whatever potential they are said to have, they do not achieve it. One must give the promoters 100% for effort, but they always seem to have a poor percentage of success.

  4. David L says:

    Is the tram still at Blackburn?

  5. Martyn Hilbert says:

    A real shame that nothing has progressed to try and alleviate the traffic congestion in Preston that is now the norm even outside of the peak periods. The TramPower scheme was too ambitious, they should have concentrated on reopening the abandoned Longridge branch from the Deepdale Retail Park alongside the busy A583 on the north east side of the city, with light rail services heading back along the former railway, serving the Preston North End football ground at Deepdale Road and the University of Central Lancashire at Maudland, before heading alongside the West Coast Main Line into an unused platform at Preston Station (Formerly number 9). From here a curve across the adjacent car parks would lead to the abandoned railway formation to Bamber Bridge, passing the growing residential area at Walton Park, and running on to terminate alongside the A6 Bamber Bridge By-Pass, where a park and ride could have been built to serve the south side of the city. Once this section was completed and up and running successfully, the extensions in the city centre streets could have followed. What a waste! The abandoned railway formations are left to rot, whilst Preston is at a standstill during the rush hours. Preston City Council, Lancashire County County Council and others should hang their heads in shame, they talk big about ‘green’ issues, but will do nothing radical to ease the traffic problems.

  6. Rick Pickup says:

    The message “I’ve given up. Sorry it did not work out” is a standard error message given by a number of mail system, when it can’t deliver a message. I suspect this is linked more the the non-payment of hosting fees than “a message from it’s founder”.

  7. The Eye says:

    The Trampower website is alive and well! Like has been said elsewhere the ‘I give up’ message is an auto-response some webhosts use for undeliverable mail!

    I strongly suggest however, that readers look over the RAIB report into the Blackpool fire and question yourselves whether or not that was a vehicle you would have been happy to travel in… Prototype or not!!

  8. George Cutler says:

    I was interested in Martyn Hilbert’s comment regarding Preston’s abandoned suburban railway network. I live close to the site of Penwortham Railway Station on the old West Lancashire line. How sad that the trackbed in this area was used for a so-called “by-pass” which has proved to be a bit of a white elephant. It has failed to eliminate congestion on Cop Lane and Leyland Road. A tramway with park and ride facilities at Longton, New Longton and Penwortham would surely have proved popular. Imagine a Preston tramway network with routes radiating from the city centre to Lea, Longton, Broughton, Red Scar, Samlesbury, Hoghton, Bamber Bridge and Leyland. I firmly believe it will happen one day.

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