Plans for a new tram system in Preston have taken a step forward with news of an appointment aimed at securing £25m to fund the project.
Preston Trampower have named Snowball Alternative Finance to advise on “funding strategy, business plans and financial models”. The first phase of the project has already secured planning permission and will see a new tram line constructed on the old rail line between Skeffington Road and Deepdale Street. The 1,250m stretch of track would include a station, and be used initially for testing and staff training but could welcome paying passengers in 2019.
Eric Wright Civil Engineering were appointed as the project’s contractors last January. Ultimate plans for the line would see trams running on a mixture of old train routes and on-street rails, linking the city centre with the University of Central Lancashire, and retail and employment areas.
“Securing the funding for our project is the last part of the jigsaw and we are looking forward to bringing tram services back to Preston,” said Lincoln Shields, director of Preston Trampower.
Benefits of new tram systems
If the project comes to fruition, it would see trams return to Preston for the first time since 1935, following a trend in a number of British cities in recent years, but would it reap similar benefits to those found in Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield and Nottingham?
Research by Lloyds Bank in 2017 found that, on average, house prices along the routes of trams in those cities went up by 12% in the first two years after opening.
At the time, Lloyds mortgage products director Andrew Mason declared, “A new and modern transport system is potentially a great catalyst to urban regeneration and can be a game changer for cities investing in improved links. An excellent tram system can stimulate inward investment for the local economy, unlock previously hard to reach sites for development and make it easier for people to move around the city.”
And it would appear to be a good time for trams to reappear in the Lancashire city, which was named as the most improved city in the UK in a recent Pricewaterhouse Coopers report. The area looks set to perform well for a sustained period of time, with figures from Savills predicting that house prices in the north-west will rise by just under 22% over the next five years.