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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

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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.

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