Friday, October 26, 2018

News: False start for Sheffield-Rotherham tram-train

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Today was meant to be the first full day of operation for the pioneering tram-train project linking Sheffield and Rotherham but services where suspended until late this morning due to a derailment in Sheffield yesterday afternoon.

Carrying some of the first passengers from Rotherham, one of the newer vehicles, which have been operating on the Supertram network for over a year, was involved in a collision with a lorry at Staniforth Road, Attercliffe. The incident led to gridlock on the roads and services being suspended on Supertram's Yellow route between Cricket Inn Rd and Meadowhall and on the new Tram-train route to Rotherham Central and Parkgate.

The incident came just hours after Government ministers, transport bosses, local councillors and other dignitaries gathered to officially launch the trail project.

Project partners from Stagecoach Supertram, Network Rail, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) and the Department for Transport were joined by representatives from local authorities and businesses for the unveiling of a commemorative nameplate by Jo Johnson MP Minister for Rail and the mayor of the Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield Combined Authority, Dan Jarvis.

Passengers in South Yorkshire are the first in the country to benefit from the innovative Tram Train pilot, which entered public service at 09.39 at Sheffield Cathedral. The special tram-type vehicles use pioneering technology to run on both Sheffield's tramlines and the rail network to Rotherham.

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Jo Johnson, rail minister said: "The first tram-train journey is a milestone moment that will give commuters cleaner, more frequent and more reliable journeys across Sheffield and Rotherham."

Details of timetables and tickets can be found here.

Cllr. Denise Lelliott, Cabinet Member for Jobs and the Local Economy at Rotherham Council, said: "Today is a very important milestone and it is incredibly exciting to be travelling on this cutting-edge innovative tram vehicle, for the first time to Rotherham town centre and Parkgate."

The SYPTE, Northern Rail and Network Rail have been working together on the pilot project which was first announced in 2009. Securing Government funding, the aim of the project is to help determine whether tram-trains can run in other parts of the country.

A report from the National Audit Office (NAO) revealed that by December 2016, the cost of the works for the project, which had been given an initial estimate of £15m, had quadrupled to £75.1m, pushing the overall cost of the scheme over £100m when you add in the cost of procuring the vehicles.

The project was delayed a number of times as Network Rail got to grips with some of the heavy rail modifications, including power, track modifications, approvals and testing and commissioning.

Rob McIntosh, route managing director at Network Rail, said: "I'd like to thank the people of Sheffield and Rotherham for their patience while we developed, built and tested Tram Train. The project has been a complex one and it is genuinely exciting to be ready to welcome the first passengers on board.

"Tram Train will bring new choices for travellers in this area, supporting jobs and the local economy. It's also important to us at Network Rail as the national infrastructure provider, as it gives us different options when we are looking to improve connections between communities across Britain."

Dan Jarvis, mayor of the Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield Combined Authority, added: "It's good to see schemes such as this transforming our transport network, which has suffered from years of underinvestment. For our economy to grow, and to ensure prosperity for all, we need to have an affordable and well-integrated public transport system that enables people to get to places of work, study and leisure quickly and easily.

"This the first step in transforming our region's transport system and making it fit for the 21st century."

The city region is looking at extending the mass transit network to enhance intra-regional connectivity. Tram, bus rapid transit, rail and highway options are included in new strategies.

The SYPTE is also investigating the feasibility of a tram stop and Park and Ride at Magna in Rotherham.

Supertram website

Images: SYPTE

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