£16m tram jackpot

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A £16.4m windfall to extend Blackpool’s tramway from the Promenade to the resort’s main railway station was today welcomed by community leaders and transport campaigners.

The multi-million pound cash boost was announced by transport bosses as part of almost £90m of funding allocated for improvements to the road and rail networks on the Fylde coast over the next decade.

The ambitious plans include:

– £16.4m towards the estimated £18.2m total cost of improving access to the national rail network from Blackpool, Fleetwood and Cleveleys, by extending the tramway from the Promenade at North Pier to Blackpool North railway station.

– £58m towards the estimated £90m total construction cost of the new road linking the M55 near Bartle with the A583 near Clifton to improve links to the Enterprise Zone site at Warton.

– £15.1m towards the estimated £23.7m cost of delivering the A6 Broughton Bypass, a new road to ease congestion on one of the main routes into north Preston.

The tramway would go from North Pier and along Talbot Road to the railway station. It is now up to Blackpool Council to find the remaining £1.8m to fund the scheme.

Work could begin in 2015.

Stephen Brookes, chairman of Blackpool Transport user group, said: “The plans for the new tramway are incredibly important as they will enable Blackpool to have a joined up transport consortium. It will be absolutely brilliant for the town.

“We are expecting electric trains in the next 18 months and when this is completed the tram system will link in at Blackpool North Station.

“These plans will put Blackpool back on the national network.

“Some people will be critical because of the disruption but my attitude to that is tough.

“Tourists will be able to get off the train and straight on to a tram, which will taken them straight up the Promenade to practically the front door of their hotel – what can be better for business than that?”

The plans have been announced by Transport for Lancashire, the newly formed body made up of representatives from Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Council, Blackburn with Darwen Council and the private sector led Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which was set up to develop major transport schemes.

Almost £106m is being allocated to six projects across the county as part of the proposals.

Coun John Jones, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “This announcement is tremendous news for Blackpool.

“Extending the tramway to Blackpool North railway 
station to create a fully integrated transport system, extending right into the heart of Blackpool town centre, would be a very welcome step forward for residents and tourists alike.

“This is also tremendous news, more widely, for the whole of the Fylde coast and Lancashire and means jobs and an improved infrastructure to support economic growth.”

For more details see Thursday’s Gazette.

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