£22m tram revolution... or a waste of cash?

More artists impressions of how the controversial tramway could loolk
More artists impressions of how the controversial tramway could loolk

These images show how a £22m investment in Blackpool’s famous tramway could transform part of the town centre.

The bold plans to link the Promenade track with Blackpoool North Railway Station secured the official backing of the council following a town hall vote last week.

Funding has been allocated from the Department of Transport, and cannot be spent on any other project.

Central to the scheme will be a state-of-the-art new tram station which will act as an interchange for passengers wanting to link up with the rail network.

While detractors have criticised spending so much money on such a short stretch of track, supporters of the project say it is essential in order to connect the railway and tramway.

For example, this will mean people can arrive by train, and hop straight onto a tram to Fleetwood which does not have its own rail link.

The proposed extension will leave the existing route at North Pier, via a two way double track junction, and trams will travel up Talbot Road partially sharing the route with motorised traffic

But the construction will mean wholescale changes to Talbot Road and its junctions.

When the £100m upgrade of the tramway was carried out, points were put in at Talbot Square, buried under the surface in readiness for any future expansion of the line.

The success of the trams has now made it feasible and a bid to the Lancashire Growth Fund to facilitate the financing was approved.

The proposed extension will leave the existing route at North Pier, via a two way double track junction, and trams will travel up Talbot Road partially sharing the route with motorised traffic.

More artists impressions of how the controversial tramway could loolk

More artists impressions of how the controversial tramway could loolk

The track would cross the Promenade and enter Talbot Square, which would be remodelled to segregate trams and highway traffic.

The existing pedestrian signals on the Promenade would be replaced by a signalled intersection.

A new tramstop would be built in Talbot Square for passengers travelling to North Station.

Beyond Talbot Square, a double track continues eastwards in the centre of the highway.

How the tramway will link to the Prom

How the tramway will link to the Prom

Along this section of the route eastbound highway traffic will be diverted along Clifton Street.

The signalled intersection with Abingdon Street will remain and the highway movements will not change.

The proposed route continues along Talbot Road to a new signalled intersection with Topping Street.

This section of the route will be shared with highway traffic and on street parking, loading and taxi bays will be provided.

The proposed tram terminus is set to form part of the redevelopment of the current Wilkinson’s site which the council has purchased for nearly £8m, with the store due to relocate to Tower Street as part of the second phase of the Houndshill Centre.

The terminus will be at the same level as the existing underpass to Blackpool North Station.

Following last week’s vote, the next step is to make an application to the Secretary of State to authorise the work before the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership hopefully gives final funding approval.

Construction would then start at the beginning of 2018 and take up to 16 months with services to North Station commencing by April 2019.

A public exhibition of the plans is currently being held at Central Library on Queen Street as part of the consultation process.