Work on constructing Preston’s 1.2km-long pilot tram line is set to begin in March following the appointment of contractor Eric Wright Civil Engineering (EWCE).
The deal between Preston Trampower Ltd, a privately owned company dedicated to the development of light rail technology, and EWCE, also includes the construction of the 5.6km-long Guild line.
The pilot line – of which permission was granted by Preston City Council in 2016 to build – along with a platform and a tram shed will be built in the Deepdale area using a stretch of the former Longridge to Preston railway branch line. It will be used for demonstration rides and staff training but will not be open for paying customers.
Planning application for the £25 million (∼€28 million) Guild line is due to be submitted by Preston Trampower by Easter, 2018.
Subject to planning permission, and securing the necessary private investment to deliver the tram infrastructure and lease the rolling stock, Trampower estimates that it could welcome its first passengers in 2019.
TramForward, the campaigning art of the Light Rail Transit Association, said it will be watching the project with great interest as it could “provide a template for similar schemes in other towns and cities.”
In a statement released after receiving initial planning permission, Preston Trampower technical director Lewis Lesley said: “Bringing trams back to Preston after more than 80 years was always going to be an ambitious undertaking, but hopefully this planning consent can lead to bigger and better things in the future.
“We still believe this exciting pilot project can act as a precursor to a fully operational tram system for Preston that can be easily extended across the city and link up to other transport hubs.”
Once completed, the Guild line would have 12 stops, including Deepdale Shopping Park, Deepdale Stadium and the University of Central Lancashire.
There hasn’t been a tramway in Preston since the closure of the Preston Corporation Tramways in 1934.