Public transport could be set to be transformed in Preston with ground-breaking multi-million pound plans set to be submitted next month. The £19m vision would see key locations across the city connected by trams as well as taking hundreds of cars away from already congested roads.
Plans to create a tramway pilot project running from Preston station to Longridge Road were given the green light in November 2016. And now the company behind it, Preston Trampower, says it wants to turn the three-and-a-half-mile project into a fully working ‘Guild Tramway’.
It would see parts of the former Longridge to Preston railway line reinstated with 12 stops across the city, including Deepdale Retail Park, the University of Central Lancashire, Skeffington Road for Preston North End’s Deepdale Stadium and the city centre.
The vision would also see significant upgrades to footpaths, lighting and greenery along the route.
Director of Preston Trampower, Lewis Lesley, said: “Everyone knows congestion is a huge problem in Preston and this could be part of the solution. We aren’t changing anything, this line can only be built on for one purpose and that’s this. This would take cars off the road, reduce air pollution, provide a safer way to travel around the city and create a cheap accessible way to travel across the city.”
The Guild line would have 12 stops, terminating at Preston Railway Station, where it would also serve the Fishergate Shopping Centre and County Hall.
There would also be a tram stop at the Miller Arcade to serve the Guild Hall, Harris Museum and Town Hall with a line down Fishergate. One of the stops would also see the currently-closed Bluebell Way park and ride reopen, something Lewis and fellow Trampower director Lincoln Shields believe could attract hundreds of commuters.
Lewis said: “The Guild tramway operating from renewable power, and the fuel savings from attracted cars trips, will make an important contribution to helping to achieve a green and sustainable Preston. We expect the tramway to serve thousands of passengers a day from across the city. The park and ride has 600 spaces and the Guild line will have 10 trams per hour at peak times in the morning, 7.30am to 8.30am.”
Preston-based planning consultancy PWA Planning, which is producing the planning document, estimates thousands of cars could be taken off the road if the development was to go ahead.
“We plan to submit the application to Preston Council in July, but we know it could take a few months before it will be considered,” Lewis said. “We can’t see why there would be any problems, this would bring a lot to the city of Preston.”
Building work for the pilot project is due to start in the next couple of weeks.
The tram operation will not be open to paying customers, but will be used for training purposes, as a demonstrator for other local authorities, and to raise public awareness of trams.
Labour city centre councillor Salim Desai said: “I haven’t seen the application yet but Preston definitely needs an alternative means of transport.
“I’m not sure if this will be the answer to the transport problems, but as a member of the planning committee I look forward to giving it my full consideration when it comes before us.”