Thursday, September 14, 2017

News: Tram train goes into passenger operation

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The first "citylink" tram train vehicle will go into passenger operation this week, but only on the existing tram network in Sheffield as the delayed scheme will not begin operating to Rotherham until next year.

First mentioned in 2009, the project will see vehicles running on both rail and tram networks, using the freight route from Rotherham and then joining the Sheffield Supertram network at Meadowhall South.

The vehicles arrived in the city region in 2016. Seven Citylink Class 399 vehicles have been delivered and are stabled at Stagecoach Supertram's Nunnery Square depot in Sheffield. Of these seven, three will run on the Supertram network and three will run as Tram Trains between Sheffield City Centre and Parkgate in 2018. One vehicle will be used as a spare.

Testing and driver training has been underway and today passengers will be the first in Great Britain to travel on the innovative tram vehicle when it goes into operation from Meadowhall.

With funding from the Government, the £100m scheme is set to run for two years with a view to permanent operation. It is the first of its kind in the UK and if it is successful, it opens the way for tram trains to be introduced in other parts of the country.

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To celebrate the occasion, operator, Stagecoach Supertram and South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) will be naming the first tram after The Sheffield Children's Hospital Charity's mascot, Theo. The hospital's CEO, John Somers will accompany Theo to a naming ceremony at Stagecoach's depot at Nunnery Square, before the tram continues to Meadowhall. They will all be joined by Transport Minister Paul Maynard MP.

The tram will also be in service on Sunday September 17 as a special charity service with Supertram staff collecting donations for The Children's Hospital Charity once again.

A report from the National Audit Office revealed that by December 2016, the cost of infrastructure works on the project had quadrupled to £75.1m, pushing the overall cost of the scheme over £100m. Network Rail came in for criticism over initial assumptions and assessments.

The report also showed that Stagecoach Supertram, which holds the concession to operate the tram network until 2024, has been awarded £2.5m from the Government after claiming prolongation costs and loss of revenue because of the delays to starting the tram train service.

Supertram website
SYPTE website

Images: SYPTE


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