Monday, September 3, 2018

News: SCR mass transit idea gaining traction despite £200m Supertram bill

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Transport bosses are looking at extending the mass transit network across the Sheffield city region (SCR) but there's still a pressing need to find £200m for the extensive maintenance that is needed to keep the existing Supertram network on track.

Local provision on rail lines are being examined, including a potential new stop at the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) and Waverley in Rotherham. A further roll-out of tram-train services is being mooted, along with other rapid transit schemes and improved access to stations and new park and ride sites.

The Sheffield City Region (SCR) recently published the first draft of its transport strategy 2018 – 2040 outlining the strategic transport priorities for supporting economic growth. It included the developing idea for a SCR Mass Transit project to enhance intra-regional connectivity.

An update on SCR Mass Transit shows the work being done to identify a potential network of "key movement corridors" to support growth. The work is likely to help provide a case for future transport investment in route specific solutions, including potential tram expansion, bus rapid transit and tram-train.

Rotherham features on a number of priority corridors including the Innovation Corridor, the River Don Corridor and the A631 Corridor.

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An update to the SCR Combined Authority, states: "In a recent meeting with senior Department for Transport officials, the establishment of an SCR priority mass transport network to support key policy objectives, was felt to provide a strong strategic narrative for future investment bids made on behalf of the region.

"More detailed development work is required to create the necessary business case documentation to support investment, be that as a single corridor, or a package of connected routes, and would consider the most appropriate modal solution for the corridor in question, be that light rail or an alternate option."

Rothbiz has previously reported on large scale city region transport projects bidding for funding from the Government including the Transforming Cities Fund and the Large Local Major Schemes fund.

Tram, bus rapid transit, rail and highway options are included. Mass transit ideas include a new service to the south east, providing faster connections into Sheffield city centre from Handsworth, Woodhouse and Beighton, possibly with a spur to Aston and Aughton in Rotherham including a new park and ride site to serve the A57.

The main focus is on investigating mass transit opportunities between Sheffield, the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID) and Rotherham. Rothbiz recently reported on proposals for another second direct road link between Rotherham and Sheffield.

A study is also being initiated on rail provision on the Sheffield to Lincoln and Rother Valley lines. This will seek to explore options for improved rail connectivity between Sheffield city centre and Waverley and the AMP, Aughton and Killamarsh.

The long-awaited tram-train project should begin to serve Rotherham later this year and transport bosses are looking at its potential for the city region and beyond. Indeed, Transport for the North is studying whether it could provide wider intra-regional connectivity, in order to release capacity on the existing heavy rail network, as a means of potentially enabling Northern Powerhouse Rail connectivity between the SCR and Leeds.

However, transport bosses are at the same time having to deal with the issue of the existing Supertram network which will require re-railing, new signalling, communications and power supply as well as replacement trams.

It is forecast that the costs of renewing the Supertram asset will be in excess of £200m. A funding bid is due for completion and submission to Government in the first half of 2019 but 20% of the costs of the scheme will need to come from the city region.

The recently published Sheffield Transport Strategy states: "Our most pressing challenge is that the Supertram system requires extensive maintenance. Vehicles and infrastructure are reaching the end of their economic life and require extensive maintenance, only affordable with central Government support.

"Should the city fail to secure funding for these maintenance works, the failure of Supertram would be a major setback, ruling out future tram extensions and posing challenges as to how (or if) people currently travelling by tram would travel into the city and undermining the improvements in connectivity between Sheffield and Rotherham afforded by tram-train. Avoiding this is our first public transport priority."

Stagecoach's operating contract runs until 2024. Stagecoach assumed responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the network. Ownership of the asset remains with SYPTE.

Sheffield Council has also started work on a potential workplace levy, which has been introduced in Nottingham to fund their new tramways, and other transport initiatives.

Images: SYPTE / SCR

5 comments:

Anonymous,  September 3, 2018 at 1:50 PM  

Can you provide a link to a clearer image of the network photo please?

Anonymous,  September 3, 2018 at 3:56 PM  

Still nothing about improving mainline train services to Rotherham, or the ‘parkway station’

Anonymous,  September 3, 2018 at 10:46 PM  

Thats a point,any news regarding better mainline services for Rotherham,new station?

Tom,  September 4, 2018 at 8:29 AM  

"Rotherham Rail Station (Parkway)" is still a project in the Sheffield City Region's Integrated Transport Block but I've not heard anything since it missed out on funding last year.

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