Work on bringing trams back to Preston for the first time in more than 80 years could be on track as early as next month.
The company with ambitions to have a fully operational £19m Guild Tramway in the city by 2019, has revealed it is ready to begin clearing a path for a pilot stretch in Deepdale within five weeks.
Professor Lewis Lesley, director of Preston Trampower, said: “We are hoping to start before Christmas. We don’t know the exact date yet. Discussions are ongoing.”
Opening up a near one-mile stretch of disused railway in Deepdale, laying tracks and putting up power lines could take as little as two months.
Once that pilot study is up and running, the company intends to submit further planning applications for the remainder of the network.
Today Trampower released a statement answering claims that trams could hold up traffic in Ringway at its junction with Church Street. The company hired a 60-foot bendybus for an experiment and found it could cross and clear Ringway in around 15 seconds.
“The Guild Tram will not add to motorists’ delays, but motorists could delay trams, especially in the evening peak, as they did the bendybus, nearly doubling its journey time,” said Prof Lesley. “Government policy is that trams should have priority over other traffic at road junctions. This is usually achieved by trams getting an immediate green signal.”
Figures show almost 70 per cent of trips into the city are by car, and only six per cent by bus. But Trampower say travellers will go by tram, as proved in cities like Manchester. “The key is to make the journey time faster than driving and parking,” said Prof Lesley. “We fully expect that about a quarter of passengers will switch from cars to travel into the city centre.”