Tuesday, August 19, 2014

News: Sheffield to Rotherham tram train delayed

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Passengers will have to wait longer to travel on the innovative tram train scheme between Sheffield and Rotherham as the first project of its kind in the country is suffering from delays.

With funding from the government, the £60m pilot scheme will see flexible vehicles run on both rail and tram networks, using the freight route from Rotherham and then joining the Sheffield Supertram network at Meadowhall South. Operated by Stagecoach, three trams an hour would run all day from Sheffield city centre through the redeveloped Rotherham Central station to Parkgate retail park.

The pilot is expected to be up and running in 2016 and is set to run for two years with a view to permanent operation. If it is successful, it opens the way for tram trains to be introduced in other parts of the country.

First announced in 2009, transport leaders in the Sheffield city region have now been forced to write to the Transport Secretary, Baroness Kramer, to express some concerns about the delays to this project and to seek a way to resolve them.

Rothbiz understands that the Network Rail led works on the heavy rail network are behind programme and will be the constraint on the opening of the system.

Contractors, Carillion have been working on design and establishment works which will involve a stop at Stonerow Way, the road that runs behind Parkgate Shopping retail park, and the lowering of tracks at three bridges to accommodate overhead power lines. At the redeveloped station in Rotherham town centre, additional platforms and access ramps will also be constructed.

The project is being led by the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), the organisation that takes the lead to develop the region's transport network through targeted, value for money investment and services. The SYPTE said that it was "awaiting clarification from Network Rail towards the end of August regarding the likely future programme."

It is hoped that the delays won't be as long as the much-needed improvements to Rotherham Central Station that came in two years late. Work began on the £8.5m redevelopment in February 2010 and contractors, Galliford Try were initially set to complete the development by Christmas 2010. The station opened in 2012.

It is a similar story for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) scheme, where the Northern route of the scheme aims to improve the links between Rotherham and Sheffield passing Meadowhall, the Lower Don Valley and Templeborough.

The £34.3m project aims help to foster economic growth along the corridor by helping people access jobs and opportunities. The scheme involves a high-frequency, limited stop bus service with new state-of-the-art vehicles. The main feature is a £20m alternative, all transport route which bypasses the congested M1 junction 34 South by providing a new section of highway beneath the Tinsley Viaduct. It is currently under construction.

The SYPTE recently reported that there had been some delays to the project and that there was also a potential increase in budget due to two unforeseen events: firstly the removal of asbestos, and secondly, the need to divert a sewer.

SYPTE website

Images: Network Rail

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