Tram dream blow

Malcolm Clarke
Malcolm Clarke
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Plans to build a line to test drive Preston’s proposed new tram network have been scrapped.

The group behind the proposals said it was now aiming to press ahead with plans for the full scheme which would see a line run from Junction 31a of the M6 at Fulwood into the city centre.

Trampower’s hopes of creating a demonstrator line on disused track behind the West View Leisure Centre in Ribbleton have been dropped after being dogged by delays.

A spokesman insisted the project remained on track despite the changes and its failure to secure £9m from the government’s Regional Growth Fund.

And he was confident of attracting support following publication of a new White Paper on sustainable transport.

He said: “Following a meeting with Preston Council, it was determined that plans for the demonstrator line would be dropped in order to move ahead with the full tramway system, in phases.

“Our strategy was never dependent on the Regional Growth Fund and we are confident this will progress supported by private funding, which has been rendered easier to attract as a result of the Government’s Green Light to Light Rail in its recent White Paper.

“The Guild Line project will put into practice many of the innovative recommendations put forward by the Department for Transport.”

The project will now rely on securing private investment from a number of investors who are speaking with Trampower director Professor Lewis Lesley about putting up cash to start the plans.

Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the advisory panel behind the plans, said Prof Lesley was still speaking with a national transport operator which was keen to operate the network and back it with cash.

But Mr Clarke said he was “very disappointed” at a single paragraph of response the group had received to its second bid into the fund, after having a first round bid knocked back.

The former Preston College director said: “We put a lot of work into the second bid looking at how it could open up the city for businesses in the Fulwood and Ribbleton area.

“The feedback we received was just about one paragraph, it was disappointing.”