Work to develop the test section of the Guild Tramway could start as soon as September.Advertisement
Preston Trampower, the developers behind the plans, are working with consultants PWA Planning to meet planning conditions set down by Preston City Council, but say they are matter of weeks away from starting work.
Lincoln Shields, director of Preston Trampower, said: “We are thinking September 1 for a start date.
“We are trying to persuade Preston City Council and Lancashire County Council that this is a really viable option for the city.”
The trial stretch of track will run from Deepdale Street to West View Leisure Centre, using the a section of the old Longridge branch line.
A maintenance depot and tram shed will also be built in Deepdale Mill Street.
If successful, Preston Tramway wants to extend the Guild Line to create a 6km tram line running from Red Scar to the railway station, with 16 stops along the route.
Plans were first mooted for a tram system back in 2010 but the planning application has been repeatedly knocked back due to concerns over traffic in the Deepdale area.
In November 2016 Preston City Council agreed to allow the Skeffington Road to Deepdale Road section to be developed as a trial section after PWA Planning helped Preston Tramway satisfy planning conditions.
Read more: Preston tram test line and station is actually happening
Preston Tramway has consulted with the 18,000 residents who live along the route and the businesses in Church Street and Fishergate.
Of those asked, 80% of residents and 75% of businesses were in favour of a tram.
A boost to the local economy?
Preston Tramway say the plans will bring a boost to local jobs, house rices and businesses.
Mr Shields said: “We will be building a fleet of trams for this in Leyland, at the old British Leyland works, providing permanent jobs for people who are going to manufacture them.
“This tram is going to be eco-friendly, powered by solar power of wind power.
“This is a massive step forward in the economics of public transport.”
Preston Trampower say homes in areas serviced by a tram system typically see an increase in value and the tram will reduce traffic in the city centre by 20% – while increasing footfall along the route.
Read more: Plans to create an ‘urban village’ in the Stoneygate area have been unveiled
Lewis Lesley, technical director of Preston Trampower, said: “Trams are a great stimulus to the local economy. People coming in from the East of the city can jump on a tram and be in the city centre in 15 minutes.
“It brings people into the city centre, rather than taking them out of town.”
Mr Shields said: “All the market research in Britain and on the continent shows us that people love trams.
“They are quiet, they are smooth to ride and they are reliable.”
Who will pay for it?
Preston Trampower is not publicly funded. The limited company has partnered with Snowball Alternative Finance to raise the £25m needed to develop the Guild Line but has not received any money from central government or the council.
A contract has been signed and the funding is close to being secured, Preston Tramway says.
Mr Shields said: “We have done this for you, for the people who live in this part of the city and we like to think you will take pride in it.”
Preston based civil engineers Eric Wright have also signed a contract to carry out the engineering work required to bring the idea off the drawing board and onto the streets of Preston.
For more information about the trams visit Preston Trampower.
What do you think of the plans? Leave your comments below