Snowball Alternative Finance has been appointed to secure funding for a £25m project to bring trams back to Preston, although the scheme is already running behind schedule.
The project moved forward in January this year with Eric Wright Civil Engineering appointed as main contractor; at the time, the scheme’s developer Preston Trampower aimed to have the first phase under way by March 2018, subject to planning.
Although works are yet to start on site, Preston Trampower has now appointed Snowball to drum up interest from funders to get the scheme under way. An updated start date has not yet been set.
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 earlier this year, Preston Trampower said this could welcome its first paying passengers by 2019.
This first phase has also already secured planning permission, and Snowball managing director said it would be “all systems go” once funding is secured.
“We are working closely with the team and looking at a wide range of funding options from local, regional and national sources,” he added.
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.
A planning application for this part of the line has not yet been submitted but Preston Trampower said it would be put forward to Preston City Council this year.
Snowball Alternative Finance is headed up by Alwin Thompson, founder and former owner of Inter Link Foods, and Peter Black, a former banker. Preston Trampower is headed up by transport academic Lewis Lesley, former AMEC director Lincoln Shields, and railway engineer John Parker.
The partners are aiming to deliver the project solely through private funders, without any public sector financial backing. The first phase of the tramway has been included in Preston’s Local Plan, which runs until 2026.
Preston’s original tram service, which ran between Fulwood and the city, closed in 1935.