Wednesday, May 9, 2012

News: Future role for tram-train


South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) has stated the importance of the proposed tram-train trial between Sheffield and Rotherham, not just for the city region but for the industry and other areas of the country.

The calls came in a response to Network Rail looking at alternative solutions that can be added to their Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) for the region.

SYPTE, Northern Rail and Network Rail have been working together on a pilot project, first announced in 2009, that received the backing of the government with a £150,000 grant in 2011.

Passengers could see tram-trains running between Sheffield and Rotherham on the current freight route from Rotherham and then joining the Sheffield Supertram network at Meadowhall South. Three trams an hour would run all day from Sheffield city centre through Rotherham Central to Parkgate retail park.

The scheme would improve connectivity within the labour market and support economic growth by making better use of the existing tram network and free up capacity at Sheffield Rail Station by diverting services onto the tram network.

The project would require significant investment of up to £55m but it would be the first test of light and heavy rail systems sharing the same track. It would help other areas, and the government, to gauge whether tram-trains provide a cheaper alternative in extending transport networks.

The trial would help partners to understand the full whole life infrastructure costs associated with delivering improvements with SYPTE estimating that the tram-train trial would generate potential industry benefits in excess of £38m.

SYPTE has examined the potential role of operating other heavy rail services as tram-train and diverting them to the Supertram alignment when approaching the city centre.

A spokesperson for the SYPTE said: "Subject to achieving a successful outcome from the trial, SYPTE would like to see expansion of the concept across the city region, and are undertaking a separate study into this.

"However, it is critical that the tram-train trial is progressed and the RUS should strongly support this given its wider implications for all city regions considering tram-train options."

With agreement from the Department for Transport (DfT), partners have developed a business case that combines the tram-train trial with the project to increase capacity on the existing Supertram network in Sheffield.

The business case for the investment was taken to DfT's Rail Investment Board in December 2011 and approved. It is still awaiting a decision by ministers and the Treasury.

It is hoped that tram trains will be introduced in South Yorkshire in 2014.

SYPTE website



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