Peter Hall leaves Blackpool URC for Preston tram link bid

Professor Sir Peter Hall is to step down as the chair of ReBlackpool, the town's urban regeneration company, to head up a bid for European funds to develop an extension of the Blackpool tramway to serve Blackpool Airport and Preston.

The plan is to use a revolutionary new technology, launched in the German city of Kassel last August: a hybrid tram which switches from electric to diesel power to run on non-electrified railways like the South Fylde line. ReBlackpool is going into partnership with Kassel and with West Flanders, which has a similar coastal tramway to Blackpool's, to test the new technology in parallel with a national technical test.

Professor Hall said today: "After nearly four years in the chair at ReBlackpool, helping to develop the casino bid and then the post-casino regeneration strategy to rebuild the town's economy, published in our Blackpool Task Force report to government last summer, I think it is time to move on. As ReBlackpool shifts from strategic thinking to delivery my successor will lead on this delivery. Meanwhile, provided our bid is successful, and I am confident that, fully supported by NWDA and other partners, it is more than good enough – I will focus on delivering the next stage of development of the Blackpool Tramway as part of the regeneration of the town".

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