Light rail and trams


Contractor selected to deliver £25m Preston tramline

A project to bring tram services back to Preston has taken a major step forward today with the appointments of the contractors who will deliver the project.

The £25m scheme, run by Preston Trampower, will involve building a 3.5-mile-long line, the first in the city since the 1930s.

In today’s announcement, the firm appointed Eric Wright Civil Engineering to construct a 1,250-metre-long pilot line in the Deepdale area of the city on a stretch of the former Longridge to Preston railway line.

Following that, a second phase of work will link the city centre with industrial and commercial areas on the edge of Preston.

The tramway, named the Guild line, is subject to planning permission on the second part of the work but is currently scheduled to begin construction in March 2018.

Professor Lewis Lesley, technical director for Preston Trampower, commented: “We’ve all seen how the Manchester Metrolink has been instrumental in the growth of that city and I have no doubt that a Preston tram system can provide a huge shot in the arm for the city’s economy.

“We’ve put years of hard work and detailed research into this project. By utilising existing rail infrastructure, we can deliver this tramway with the minimum of disruption to residents and motorists. While only a small section of track is being built initially, we’re confident the full Guild Line can soon become a reality.”

Whilst the pilot line will initially be limited to free demonstration rides and staff training, the service could welcome its first paying passengers as early as 2019 if the plans are approved this year.

As part of the pilot, a length of the former railway between Skeffington Road and Deepdale Street will be reinstated, while a new tram station, platform and tram shed is already being built on what was previously a neglected area.

Under the long-term plans for the Guild line, the service would have 12 stops on key sites in the city including Deepdale Shopping Park, Preston North End’s Deepdale Stadium, and then the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

It would run six trams at six-minute intervals for most of the day, with a forecasted 1.8 million tram trips expected to be made annually.

Lincoln Shields, director of Preston Trampower Ltd, added: “The Guild Line tram will be a fast, frequent and convenient way for people to reach the city centre without having to fight for a parking place.

“The chronic level of congestion in the city centre, and the health-threatening toxic traffic air pollution will be eased by pollution-free trams.”

The company says it has already lined up private investment to deliver the infrastructure for the tram service, as well as additional funds for the leasing of trams.

Top image: 1amgreen

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an RTM columnist? If so, click here.


Huguenot   12/01/2018 at 18:33

Well if Preston can do it, why not other larger cities like Leeds and Portsmouth/Southampton?

Andrew Gwilt   12/01/2018 at 19:25

Be good for Preston. It could compete with Manchester, Edinburgh, Blackpool, Sheffield/Rotherham, Croydon/South London (including Wimbledon), Wolverhampton/Birmingham and Nottingham that currently have trams. Plus other UK major cities including Norwich, York, Leeds, Brighton, Exeter, Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge and Cardiff that could also have trams in the future. TfL could extend the London Tramlink from Croydon and Wimbledon to Camden via Charing Cross/Westminster or Holborn. Plus with North London, West London and East London (or parts of Greater London) that could possibly have trams to replace buses and provide better journeys in some areas and to cross over and under the River Thames. And to provide a interchange with London Underground, London Overground, Elizabeth Line, DLR and National Rail at some key stations.

David   12/01/2018 at 19:53

It’s a shame it’s not called the “Gwilt line” then. After all he is clearly a better metro engineer than any of us.

Andrew Gwilt   13/01/2018 at 00:44

It’s called knowledge David. But thanks anyway

Boris   13/01/2018 at 09:09

So why aren’t you working as an engineer then? I’m sure David could use the help with his research project.

Bert Kidd   13/01/2018 at 12:55

Primarily, of course, what this article highlights is the great, great shame of a succession of local gormless MPs, PCC, LCC (and latterly UNCLAN where involved) all of which have just simply (and completely) arrogantly and ignorantly (and knowingly) ignored the vital transport deficiencies (and documented proposals to put matters right, inclusive of a full area tram set-up) for, now, some 15 years, since 2003. In terms of Trampower, my understanding, from those in the know, is that that organisations only noteworthy achievement remains one of an exploding & on fire tram in blackpool a few years ago. Perhaps, too, the fact that the latest news item on the Preston Trampower online effort dates back to December 2016, speaks volumes! Enough said!

(Dr) Pedr Jarvis   13/01/2018 at 14:43

It seemed a pity that HMG cancelled the Liverpool scheme. There are substantial lengths of old tramway reservation left from the previous system. Streamlined double-deck trams doing 60mph seems a fantasy, but they did - only 30mph in the street, of course.

Andrew Gwilt   13/01/2018 at 17:51

Anyone can be knowledgeable of any kind no matter if they are interested in trains, buses, cars & other vehicle related obsessions. Boris. And yes I could become a engineer as I got the knowledge about trains.

Lutz   13/01/2018 at 18:35

Is this some sort of New Year's hoax? Where are the numbers? Where is the analysis? Who is paying for this?

Jimbo   14/01/2018 at 10:59

@Adrew Gwilt - one piece of advice, stop writing out lists in comments. It just looks like you are desperate to show off your knowledge and no-one likes a show-off. A list of tram lines in the UK is easily found on the Internet if people are interested.

Jimbo   14/01/2018 at 11:04

A quick search for Preston Trampower provides a lot more background to this project. It looks like it has been going since at least 2010, but has spent the last 6 years in planning hell (where have we heard that before). Note that that permission has only been given for the short demonstration line, not the whole line, so funding the rest of it is still an issue. Nevertheless, if they can do it, it will show that smaller schemes are feasible and valuable, rather than trying to plan a huge network from the start.

Andrew Gwilt   14/01/2018 at 12:44

@Jimbo. Ok thanks. Guess the internet is better than I am.

J, Leicester   15/01/2018 at 09:38

Exciting times for a number of similar or larger cities that have been calling out for tramlines for years, but have been repeatedly told that they would not be economic. If it goes well in Preston, that could open the door for similar projects in the likes of Leeds and Portsmouth as Huguenot mentions, but also places like Bristol, Leicester and Stoke which currently suffer congestion up the whazoo, rely on shoddily-connected bus services and could benefit hugely from a dedicated light rail system given their spread-out respective urban areas. I hope the scheme is a success - heaven knows the light rail industry needs one after the omnishambles that is the Rotherham project.

Lutz   15/01/2018 at 11:02

@Jimbo Hi, Having checked, I have still not found any analysis of market demand, travel patterns, costs, and expected revenue. That would make it look like a half-hearted attempt to get a demonstrator line up and running.

Lutz   15/01/2018 at 11:11

Seems that TramPower had intentions of having trams running by Christmas 2010. Also mentions that there is only a single car - presumable dating from before 2010. Also a quote: "... told residents that the work to get the track fully functional and running should only ‘take weeks’, and implementing the entire network would create 500 jobs for local people by 2014. TramPower expect the demonstration line, running from West View Leisure Centre to mouth of Miley Tunnel, will be running within two months. The new transport system will be funded entirely by a private company, with no cost to the taxpayer, and its running costs are next to nothing." Where did that figure for 500 come from, and what exactly are the running costs and projected revenue from the "demonstrator" section of line?

Paul   15/01/2018 at 12:53

Well at least Carillion won't be involved! Look at the mess they and Network Rail have made of the Sheffield / Rotherham light rail scheme. And as for Leeds and trams !!! they have only managed a few guided bus routes.

Mmlred   16/01/2018 at 09:53

Carillion were involved in the Rotherham project? Says a lot, really.

Joe   16/01/2018 at 14:52

There is a proper tram building company in Preston and has been based there 100,s of Years was GEC now Alstom. This seems like a big experiment that’s not got planning. Hope the rolling stock is up to it. Pity so many lines were closed years ago.

Add your comment


rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Scrap HS2 and use its £56bn budget to fund 28 alternative projects, urges TPA

14/05/2019Scrap HS2 and use its £56bn budget to fund 28 alternative projects, urges TPA

Scrapping the £56bn HS2 project could pave the way for 28 separate local infrastructure schemes to be funded instead with the case “g... more >
DfT calls for new technology to transform transport accessibility, but union warns against ‘faceless’ railway

14/05/2019DfT calls for new technology to transform transport accessibility, but union warns against ‘faceless’ railway

The DfT has called for new technologies to revolutionise travel for older people and those with disabilities, but the RMT has “reacted with... more >
First leg of HS2 ‘passing the point of no return’ due to amount of money already invested, says NAO head

13/05/2019First leg of HS2 ‘passing the point of no return’ due to amount of money already invested, says NAO head

HS2 is on the “verge of passing the point of no return” and the amount of money spent would make scrapping the flagship project &ldqu... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. Chris Leech MBE, business community manager at the... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

Making the railways safer and more reliable with Ze-Power

13/05/2019Making the railways safer and more reliable with Ze-Power

Professor Meiling Zhu, chair of mechanical engineering and head of the Energy Harvesting Research Group (EHRG) at the University of Exeter, introduces us to Ze-Power (Zero Power, Large Area Rail Track Monitoring): an innovative Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded project aiming to make the railway tracks safer and... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


The railway franchising model is broken, and passengers are paying the price

13/05/2019The railway franchising model is broken, and passengers are paying the price

Meg Hillier, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch and chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), gives her view on the state of the UK’s ... more >
NSAR: Tackling the digital skills shortage

13/05/2019NSAR: Tackling the digital skills shortage

The National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR) chief executive Neil Robertson returns to write for RTM, this time, to assess the digital skills shor... more >
Delivering cost-effective electrification

13/05/2019Delivering cost-effective electrification

David Clarke, technical director of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), sets out the findings of a new report on how rail electrification can... more >
5G: An opportunity to revolutionise on-train connectivity

13/05/20195G: An opportunity to revolutionise on-train connectivity

Simon Holmes, group head of digital (engineering) at FirstGroup, introduces us to the 5G solution being delivered for the rail sector.  ... more >

rail industry focus

View all News


Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

08/05/2019Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

In answering the pressing questions of how current and future generations of managers can provide solutions to high-profile infrastructure projec... more >