AT least two and possibly up to four organisations are eying Warrington as a suitable location for a tram system that would help solve the town’s chronic traffic problems.
Two have made approaches to the borough council – including Trampower, the group behind the £25 million Preston Guild tramway, which is being funded privately.
They have prepared a pre-feasibility study report which claims Warrington could have a tram network at no cost to the public purse.
More than 80 per cent of Warrington people are dependant on car travel, with only 7.6 per cent using buses. But the report claims a tram system would attract about 25 per cent of the car users.
Warrington-based Light Rail UK is also urging the council to look seriously at a tram system.
Managing director James Harkins has lodged an objection to the council’s controversial Local Plan proposals recently announced road and housing plans.
He has dismissed the proposals as “yesterday’s planning” and believes Warrington’s congestion and transport problems can be best be tackled to provision of high quality public transport – particularly a tramway.
Warrington resident Ian Buttress, former principal transportation officer with Greater Manchester Council and leader of the team that developed the highly successful Metrolink tram system, is also championing the cause.
He has written to the council, enclosing a copy of Trampower’s pre-feasibility study report, which suggests that private funding would be available for a Warrington system.
Mr Buttress said generally, he was not against the extra housing proposed for Warrington, most of which was proposed in the original Warrington New Town plans. But they would have to be linked into adequate infrastructure improvements.
The tramway system proposed was in the form of a cross, with tramlines going north-south and east-west, but it could be extended to serve the proposed “garden city suburb” and other major developments, such as Grappenhall.
Mr Buttress hopes the Trampower report will be considered by the council.
But Mr Harkins says he has been disappointed with the lack of interest shown by the council after several years of trying to get his ideas examined.
He says he knows of other consortiums interested in trams systems for Warrington but does not see any of them as rivals.
“They are more complementary,” he said.
The Liberal Democrat Group on the borough council says it is “extremely interested” in the proposals and hopes to set up talks with the tramway organisations
Local party chairman Cllr Ian Marks said: “It is certainly worth looking into because it offers cost savings and environmental benefits.
Until 1935, Warrington had a five-line tramway service linking the town centre with Stockton Heath, Sankey Bridges, Latchford and Bruche. It was a victim of competition from cars and buses and under-investment.