Tram Power Preston - November 2013
In 2010, we reported (here) on ambitious plans to build a modern tram system in the city of Preston, but sadly in the intervening years, no visible progress has yet been made. That, coupled with recent website problems have been assumed to mean that the project is sadly dead and buried. This prompted us to contact Tram Power Ltd. directly to ask for an official statement on the current state of affairs. We’re pleased report that the scheme is still very much alive and small but significant progress has very recently been made.
When small companies such as Tram Power have to deal with government departments, local authorities and large organisations such as Network Rail, things tend to move at a glacial pace, but that doesn’t mean that nothing is happening, and below water, there appears to have been some furious paddling going on!
Below, hot of the press, is a Progress Report, prepared by Tram Power this week, for the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership which is Chaired by Edwin Booth (Booths Supermarket). Booths and BAe who own the site of the Samlesbury Enterprise Zone, have been extremely supportive of efforts to build the Guild Line to Redscar and then to extend by crossing the River Ribble to serve Samlesbury. For the International High -Tech businesses that they are seeking to attract, a direct connection to the West Coast Mainline at Preston Station will be invaluable.
Below, is the Progress report.
The Guild Line Tramway – November 2013 – Progress Summary
Planning approval for the Coal Yard site, on which we are to erect the tram depot, is close to being granted, after further and more detailed information has been supplied to Preston City Council. Applications for route sections from Coal Yard to Preston Railway Station and from West View Leisure Centre to the M6 Motorway at Redscar are still being assessed by the City Planners.
Recent meetings with the new leadership of Lancashire County Council have taken place and significant interest is being expressed by Cabinet members in support of the Guild Line.
Demonstration Line Construction
A small but significant start was made on the construction of the Demonstration Line section of the Guild Line in late October 2013.This was a “Spade in the Ground” exercise to secure the Planning Approval for providing a Demonstration service on a 1200m section of existing rail track in Deepdale. Preston Trampower is planning for the erection of poles for the overhead power lines on another section of existing rail track adjacent to the Coal Yard site.
Negotiations are taking place with a local contractor with a view to an early appointment as the Construction Partner for the project. Other arrangements are being made with North West based companies to provide design and quantity surveying services.
Demonstration Tram Service
Subject to receiving Planning Approval and whilst the depot is being erected and the Demonstration Line route is being prepared, the City Class “Proof of Concept” tram will be taken from storage and operated on the Birkenhead (Heritage) Tramway, where Wirral Borough Council have invited Trampower Ltd. to return for 3-4 months of Demonstration running. We anticipate reaching agreement with Wirral B.C. and running in Birkenhead in November 2013, with a transfer of the vehicle to Preston early in 2014.A preliminary agreement has already been made with a company currently operating a Network Rail service in the West Midlands, to be the Operating Partner for the Guild Line.
Lancashire County Council have advised that the Park & Ride site at Bluebell Way has not yet been sold but refused to comment on its availability for use as part of the Guild Line tram service provision. Due to the uncertainty about the future of the unused Park and Ride facility, we have made further investigations with regard to two alternative sites immediately adjacent to the route of old Longridge Railway.
Also preliminary investigations have been made as to the modifications that would be required to the M6 Footbridge, in order for the Guild Line to continue on a straight route across the M6 Motorway on a single track laid at existing deck level. The footpath /cycleway to be maintained on either cantilever brackets on each side of the bridge or by ramping up to a second deck supported above the tramway.
Samlesbury Enterprise Zone
With the recent announcements of progress regarding additional funding for infrastructure projects to support the development of the Enterprise Zone and the first businesses soon to be announced for location at Samlesbury, we continue with the exploration of a tramway extension from Redscar to the Samlesbury. This could be in service within twelve months from approvals being granted.
As we near the point of gaining Planning Approval, and begin to start construction work, interest in the investment opportunity offered by the Guild Line project is increasing. We are now in detailed negotiations with a number of possible private sources which could provide the funding for the project.