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PWA submits fresh plans for Preston tram scheme

Plans to create a congestion-busting tram network in Preston are back on the table.

Preston Trampower has re-submitted proposals to create a sustainable pilot tram operation in the city by re-instating a stretch of the former Longridge to Preston train line.

Lancashire planning consultancy PWA Planning has been brought in to advise Preston Trampower on the revised plans. PWA Planning has submitted a fresh application that addresses concerns over road safety and noise which led to the scheme being rejected in April 2015.

The ambitious project would see a new tram station, platform and tram shed built on a former coal yard in the Deepdale area of the city and a section of the disused train line between Skeffington Road and Deepdale Street reinstated.

Lewis Lesley, technical director of Preston Trampower, said: “This is an exciting project for the city of Preston and one that has the potential to play a major role in its ongoing regeneration. This pilot project would act as a precursor to a fully operational tram system that could be easily extended across the city and link up to other transport hubs.

“It’s a chance for Preston to see what’s possible and how a modern and sustainable light railway system could transform the city by improving local transport infrastructure and easing the traffic congestion we all experience. We’d love to the see the city getting behind this vision.”

Daniel Hughes, senior planner at PWA Planning, said: “With this new planning application, we’ve directly addressed concern about possible noise pollution through suitable noise reduction measures, and we’ve also shown how design and minor highway alterations can address any safety concerns relating to the proposed tram line crossing at Deepdale Mill Street.”

Preston Trampower has named Pre Metro Operations, which runs the Stourbridge Shuttle light railway, as its preferred operator to run the proposed tram operation.

Preston Trampower hopes to be able to attract funding from the Green Investment Bank for the project. It is also in advanced negotiations with contractors and consultants who could help build the scheme.

While the pilot project would not involve the transfer of paying passengers, it would focus on staff training with members of the public being invited to ride on the tram as part of an awareness raising process. It would also provide educational visits to school children.

If the pilot project is successful, Preston Trampower would seek approval to extend the project with the ultimate vision of linking up the train station with the north of the city, as well as serving UCLan and Lancashire Enterprise Zone at Salmesbury.

In a recent study by satnav company TomTom, Preston was rated as one of the UK’s top 25 congestion hotspots.

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