Tuesday, September 25, 2018

News: £230m needed to fix Supertram


Transport bosses in the Sheffield city region (SCR) have revealed that the cost of renewing the existing Supertram network will be around £230m, and some local councils don't want that cost passed on to them.

Rothbiz reported earlier this month that the SCR was developing proposals for a Mass Transit system, identifying a potential network of "key movement corridors" to support growth. At the same time however, it is 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.

Consultation has now begun in connection to developing the business case that will be submitted to the Department for Transport to support the funding of any renewal works. As part of this business case all possible options need to be explored, and consulted on and then a preferred option for the system needs to be submitted.

Options include spending £230m carrying out essential work on the Supertram system when needed, spending a similar amount modernising the system from 2024 with new assests, or decommissioning the tram system replacing it with a dedicated, high quality, bus network from 2024.

Dan Jarvis, mayor of the Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield Combined Authority, said: "For more than 20 years the Supertram has been a fixture within Sheffield and the region and has been making more than 12 million passenger journeys a year.

"We are now working with South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) to establish what the future of the Supertram system might look like. We want to hear from those people who currently use the Supertram, and those who don't, about what its future should be. I would encourage as many people as possible to have their say."


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.

At a recent meeting of the combined authority, Ros Jones, mayor of Doncaster welcomed the mass transit concept "but asserted the cost of Supertram renewal must be met through grants and fares, and not passed on to the local authorities."

Cllr. Sir Steve Houghton CBE, leader of Barnsley Council, has previously raised concerns over the renewal costs for the Supertram network.

Sheffield Council, whose transport strategy states that Supertram renewal is its "most pressing challenge," has started work on a potential workplace levy, which has been introduced in Nottingham to fund their new tramways, and other transport initiatives.

Opened in 1994, Sheffield's Supertram system cost a reported £240m and now serves major residential and employment sites in Sheffield. A delayed tram-train pilot project is set to bring new vehicles to Rotherham in 2018.

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.

In 2014 an unusual accountancy procedure was carried out by the city region to deal with a deficit of £30.5m on its general reserve budget with a significant part of this relating to capital expenditure incurred by the SYPTE as part of the construction of the Sheffield tram network.

A major programme of rail replacement works on the network is currently taking place at an estimated capital cost of £32m.

SYPTE website
Supertram website

Images: Stagecoach Supertram


News: Macalloy's crowning glory for Sydney's skyline


A unique addition to the skyline of Sydney, Australia has been made possible by steel products made in Rotherham by Macalloy.

Dinnington-based Macalloy are world leaders in design, manufacture and supply of threaded bar and cable systems to engineering and construction projects across the globe. Approximately 80% of the company's turnover is from export.

Described as a "centerpiece and architectural statement," the $250m (£137m) Arc by Crown development is almost complete in Sydney's Central Business District (CBD).

The 25-story development includes residential apartments, serviced apartments, multiple levels of basement carparking, two levels of retail and a rooftop terrace.

Architecture firm Koichi Takada produced a striking design incorporating heritage-inspired lower brick levels transitioning to a modern glass-and-steel tower, capped with a sleek public rooftop that will feature daybeds, a water feature and a bar. The eye-catching roof includes a number of steel arches.


Macalloy has made these arches a reality. Over 300 Macalloy Stainless 520 M42 Tendons have been used to help support the roof. The arched metal fins that cantilever and curve over the rooftop lounge are connected with the tension bars.

Koichi Takada, architect on the project, said last year: "If you ask a child about the Sydney skyline, they draw the Opera House or Harbour Bridge. We wanted to respond to that, we wanted to create something with that quality, something a child could recognise and draw."

Super strong and aesthetically pleasing, Macalloy products are the choice for architects around the globe. The thread is rolled, rather than cut. This gives rise to the use of smaller diameter bars for a given metric thread, resulting in material cost saving.

Innovative products from Macalloy are used to provide strength in bridges, airports, stadia and buildings including the Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai and the Marina Bay Sands development in Singapore.

Macalloy moved to the former Rotherham colliery site at Dinnington from Sheffield in November 2006 as part of their continued expansion.

Macalloy website

Images: Koichi Takada


News: Steelphalt invests in new vehicles


Rotherham road surface specialist SteelPhalt is continuing to develop new markets with the delivery of two new additions to its fleet of vehicles.

SteelPhalt - part of the Harsco group of companies - has been developing and manufacturing high performance asphalt products for the UK road making industry since the 1960s. Harsco has a site at Aldwarke and Steelphalt has an extensive facility at Templeborough.

The two 10 tonne capacity four-wheel vehicles mark the launch of a new venture for the company as they allow the company's award-winning materials to be delivered to smaller sites and in smaller quantities.

They join a busy fleet of four four-wheel vehicles, seven six-wheelers and 20 eight-wheelers and were acquired in association with SteelPhalt's regular haulier A&F Haulage.


Lee Birkbeck commercial manager at SteelPhalt (pictured, right), said: "We realised that there was a gap in the market for a smaller vehicle that would be able to access tighter spaces and deliver much smaller quantities of our road surface products.

"Many companies only offer eight-wheel 20 tonne delivery but we have identified a real need for smaller loads in a range of areas covering everything from drive ways to sports and recreation areas, many of which simply do not have the access for the sort of vehicles we use on our major road projects."

SteelPhalt products achieve high skid resistance - enhancing road safety for both drivers and pedestrians - and maintain it throughout the whole life of the road, also avoiding the use of quarried materials and the landfill of residual slag product.

Steelphalt website

Images: Steelphalt


Monday, September 24, 2018

News: First day of term at new University Centre Rotherham


The new £10.5m University Centre Rotherham (UCR) has opened its doors to students and adult learners for the first time today.

UCR is a brand new campus dedicated to offering degrees and professional training qualifications, providing a state-of-the-art teaching facility in the heart of Rotherham town centre.

On Doncaster Gate, UCR is operated by leading education and training provider RNN Group and is part of the Rotherham Plan 2025, a strategy set out by the Rotherham Together Partnership to improve the economic and social wellbeing of the borough. Currently only 17% of the population in Rotherham and Bassetlaw have a higher or degree-level qualification (level 4 or above), compared to the national average of 27%%

RNN Group expects to run 50 different university-level courses by 2020, adding to the 32 higher-level courses currently on offer, and has been working closely with employers to develop courses covering digital, creative, health, technical construction, engineering, and leadership and management, to meet the needs of the local economy.

The target is to attract 1,000 additional students over the first five years. Tuition fees will be under the £9,000 charged by many universities, making degrees more accessible for people in the town. Details of some of the courses available can be found here.


John Connolly, chief executive of the RNN Group, said: "We are delighted to welcome students to the brand new UCR campus this autumn.

"Studying at UCR means students can achieve their career aspirations without the need to live away from home or travel long distances and offers opportunities for those already in employment who want to study a degree or higher-level qualification around their work and family commitments. We're aiming to inspire students at UCR to become the business leaders and entrepreneurs of the future."

The centre, where plans for a second phase are already in hand, was built by Willmott Dixon. Rotherham Council provided the land in a cut price deal. The Sheffield City Region (SCR) Combined Authority agreed to fund infrastructure works. A grant of £3.5m was approved with the balance coming from RNN Group. Lloyds Banking Group, has both supported and partly funded the project.

Cllr. Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Council, said: "Having a university centre here in Rotherham will develop both education and business for future generations here in Rotherham.

"It makes sense to attract new students and local businesses in order to offer the best educational and business experiences. This centre will play a pivotal role in closing the skills gap in the town and support the local economy by increasing access to higher-level skills."

UCR website

Images: RNN Group


News: AMRC at the cutting edge


Experts at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing, has demonstrated the use of advanced 3D printing technology for the traditional knife-making industry in Sheffield.

Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, the AMRC is a world leading model partnership between industry and academia that focuses on advanced machining and materials research for aerospace and other high-value manufacturing sectors.

Its Design and Prototyping Group (DPG), develops everything from conceptual designs, to fully functional prototypes for a range of industries and recently joined forces with a highly respected Sheffield knife maker to design and develop a bespoke, 3D printed titanium chef's knife.

Stuart Mitchell, 48, has been making knives for more than three decades, cutting his teeth in the trade as a keen ten-year-old at his father's knee. His bespoke blades are made using many of the same tools his dad used before him in the same red-brick workshop his family took on in 1980.

Despite his feet being firmly rooted in tradition as a craft maker, Stuart's curiosity about additive manufacturing made him want to find out whether the advanced 3D printing technology could be combined with his top quality knife making skills to create something truly beautiful and unique.

The project has allowed Stuart to compare and contrast the end product with his own handcrafted knives.

Andy Bell, design strategy manager for the DPG, said: "This is design-led disruption in the truest sense of the word; a craft maker applying advanced manufacturing technologies and exploring how this could change their business model now and in the future."


Stuart - whose knives are used across the world in Michelin star restaurants and by members of the Royal family - took receipt of the AM knife at his workshop in Portland Works at the end of summer. He was struck by the quality of the piece.

"I was impressed by the profile of the blade – it replicated very well what I would do by hand, particularly the taper from the spine to the edge," said Stuart. "It did need a degree of grinding to apply an actual cutting edge but the tolerances of the edge were good to start with, very fine. I didn't realise it would print that fine.

"I love the AM knife, it's different and hasn't been done before. Working in that very traditional way and to have something brand spanking new in the workshop is great - what's not to like? What it perhaps also shows, particularly with all the advances in AM, is that there is still a place for what I do as well - an ideal product would perhaps marry the two."

Stuart accessed the expertise and state-of-the-art capabilities at the AMRC and benefitted from a grant-funding scheme run by the AMRC specifically to help small to medium enterprises fund research projects, under the Catapult SME assistance scheme.

AMRC website

Images: AMRC

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