Government go-ahead for £22m tramway extension

Government approval for a £22m extension to the Blackpool Tramway has been hailed by councillors in the Lancashire seaside resort.

A new track from North Pier to Blackpool North railway station has been approved by the Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling.

Approval from the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership was granted earlier this year, to allow work to commence which is expected to be completed and opened in 2019.

The extension will also form part of a larger regeneration project at Blackpool North train station, which will include a new tramway terminal, a four star Holiday Inn and office and retail units to let.

The cost of the extension also includes two new Flexity2 trams to run on the tramway to cope with the extra passenger demand.

Cllr Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “This is excellent news and is a huge step forward in continuing to regenerate the Talbot Gateway, creating more jobs for people in Blackpool and creating a stronger economy for everybody in the town.

“Almost two million journeys go through Blackpool North train station every year and rail journeys to the resort are growing. This extension will not only capitalise on the electrification and growth in rail travel but it will make journeys for residents, commuters and visitors from the train station much easier.

“Over five million people already use the current tramway every year. That number is growing and passengers are extremely happy with the service they get from our modern day, accessible trams.”

Jane Cole, managing director of Blackpool Transport Services, which operates the tramway service, added: “What a boost for Blackpool this will be.

“Not only will the tramway extension have huge benefits for locals and commuters moving around the town it will also massively improve access for visitors coming in to Blackpool by train

“Two extra Flexity2 trams will allow us to cope with the extra demand and add on the extra services needed, which is also a huge bonus.”

Last year, passenger journeys on Blackpool trams increased by 3.9%, while passenger revenue increased by 15.4%, with a total of 5.1 million journeys taking place in 2016/17.

The 11-mile tramway re-opened in 2012 following a major £101m replacement of the track, creation of a new tram depot and arrival of 16 new Flexity2 trams. The new trams have level boarding, making them accessible for all disabled users, allowing for faster journey times and a more energy efficient service.

At the same time, the previous stock of heritage trams still run as a tourist attraction along the same network during the summer and for special events during the winter.