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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Preston Tram v Preston Bus ?

Preston doesn't appear normally in the columns devoted to tram matters. PrestonBus is familiar sight in Blackpool these days in similar fashion to Blackpool Transport's Palladium colours now a frequent sight in Preston (and Kirkham) on rail replacement services.

Preston's former association with trams however does still linger on in the form of the massive assembly plant on Strand Road which formerly was home to the United Electric Company and later English Electric - builders of trams for both domestic and international markets. Currently the building is leased to Alstom - themselves no slouch in rail manufacturing.

This week a consortium or partnership involving Trampower Ltd., and a Preston based northwest construction firm, Eric Wright Group, announced their partnership and joint endeavours in launching the proposed 'Guild Line' which is expected to bring tram operation back to Preston. The line will use existing railway infrastructure including a tunnel section - under agreement with Network Rail. On street operation, much like in Fleetwood, is planned in Preston's city centre running to the main railway station. Trampower Ltd., are utilising their prototype design as the demonstrator for the service, whilst Eric Wright Group bring diverse construction and engineering experience. Both companies have had exploratory discussions with Wyre Dock Development Ltd principally to do with the planned waterside tourist line and display area in this Fleetwood scheme. Trampower's principal proponent, Dr Lewis Lesley, visited Wyre Dock late last year - as mentioned in an earlier Blog. (Below : Dr Lesley emphasises a point to our intrepid colleague Colin MacLeod in 2017 - with some familiar sights in the background).

The Fylde seems to be abuzz with initiatives involving railways and tramways as we enter 2018 - including of course the now much talked about Poulton to Fleetwood railway line, as well as a new role for the south Fylde railway running from Kirkham to the coastal communities starting with Lytham all the way to Waterloo Road, Blackpool. Blackpool's ongoing extension from the promenade up Talbot Road has been mentioned several times on this page of late, and no doubt will continue to receive the utmost attention until completion. Electrification of the railway into Blackpool North continues apace and with some urgency to meet deadlines at Easter. Preston now is a focus of attention - and rightly so given the city's role in the formative years of electric tram development in Britain. Its vibrant new profile with the University of Central Lancashire and technology businesses is a far cry from the traditional heavy industry and textiles of a previous century.

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