Contractor Eric Wright Civil Engineering has been chosen to build a 3.5-mile tramway in Preston, which will bring tram services back to the city for the first time since the 1930s.
Client Preston Trampower and Eric Wright have signed a memorandum of understanding today, allowing the contractor to start on site in March 2018 on the first stage of the project, which runs on the former Longridge to Preston Railway.
The first phase covers former railway line between Skeffington Road and Deepdale Street and will see the construction of a new tram station, platform, and tram shed. The stretch of track will initially be used for demonstration rides and staff training, but could welcome its first paying passengers by 2019, subject to planning approval.
The second phase of the line will aim to link to the city centre with employment sites on the edge of the city.
Under the long-term plans for the tramway, there will be 12 stops including Deepdale Shopping Park, Preston North End’s Deepdale Stadium, and the University of Central Lancashire.
Trams would run at six-minute intervals throughout the day, and would use existing railway infrastructure for most its length, with some on-street tramway planned for later stages.
Planning permission for the first phase was granted in November 2016, and Preston Trampower aims to submit a full application for the entire line in 2018.
The project is being financed through private investment without any direct public funding. The professional team includes MCK Architects.
Lewis Lesley, technical director for Preston Trampower said: “We’ve all seen how the Manchester Metrolink has been instrumental in the growth of that city and I have no doubt that a Preston tram system can provide a huge shot in the arm for the city’s economy.
“We’ve put years of hard work and detailed research into this project. By utilising existing rail infrastructure, we can deliver this tramway with the minimum of disruption to residents and motorists. While only a small section of track is being built initially, we’re confident the full Guild Line can soon become a reality.”
Diane Bourne, managing director of Eric Wright Civil Engineering, said: “Signing this memorandum of understanding is an important milestone and reassures the people who live and work in Preston that the new tramway is coming.
“As a local contractor with a strong heritage across Preston, we’re very proud to be leading the project. We’re looking forward to starting on site and delivering a quality scheme that meets local need and that the community can be proud of.
“City centre tramway projects are proven to bring numerous benefits and we’re aiming to replicate this same success within Preston.”