Contractor for Preston tram line

ERIC WRIGHT Civil Engineering has been appointed to build a new 3.5-mile tram line in Preston on behalf of Preston Trampower Ltd, a privately-owned company dedicated to introducing low-cost light rail, in which Professor Lewis Lesley is a leading light.

The scheme will begin with a 1,250-metre-long pilot line in the Deepdale area of the city, with work expected to get underway by March. A planning application for a second phase of the line linking to the city centre is to be submitted later this year.

The pilot line will see a length of the former railway between Skeffington Road and Deepdale Street reinstated. The pilot section will initially be limited to free demonstration rides and staff training, but Preston Trampower hopes to welcome paying passengers in 2019.

The longer-term plans will see the Guild line, as it has been dubbed, serve 12 stops, including Deepdale Shopping Park, Preston North End FC’s Deepdale stadium, and later the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). The second phase would see six trams operating at six-minute intervals for most of the day, with Preston Trampower forecasting 1.8 million trips will be made annually on the line.

The full line would utilise existing railway infrastructure for most of its length, but would switch to an LR55 section on roads; the company says this track system ‘glues’ into the road surface and doesn’t require large-scale excavation work. It says private investment has already been lined up to deliver the infrastructure for the service, as well as additional funds for the leasing of trams.

The last trams in Preston ceased operating in 1935. Preston Trampower was formed in 2010 and received planning permission for the pilot tramway in November 2016.