Wednesday, January 9, 2013

News: Network Rail commits to Rotherham tram train project


Network Rail, the owners and operators of Britain's rail infrastructure, has committed £13m to the Sheffield to Rotherham tram-train pilot project and outlined other improvement to the rail network in the city region.

Network Rail's strategic business plan, which has been submitted to the Office of Rail Regulation, sets out proposals which will help drive Britain's economy and make its railway as efficient as the best in Europe.

With year-on-year passenger and freight growth continuing at unprecedented levels, Network Rail plans to spend £37.5bn on running and expanding Britain's railway over the five years to 2019 (known as control period 5, or CP5).

The plan includes £13m for the tram-train project, the first project of its kind in the country, that last year secured £58m from the government.

The pilot scheme will see flexible vehicles run on both rail and tram networks, using the 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 the redeveloped Rotherham Central station to Parkgate retail park.

The project would include major works such as the electrification of a stretch of track between Sheffield and Rotherham and the construction of 400 metre line linking the tramway to the train tracks.

At a recent transport liaison group in Rotherham, the SYPTE reported that contract negotiations and design discussions continue in respect of the project. They anticipate that construction work will begin on site during the Spring 2013, with expected completion of the project during 2015.

Network Rail's business plans included a £514.61m commitment for the electrification of the Midland Mainline that links London to Sheffield. It will allow more frequent, more reliable and quicker trains to run on the route.

Line speed improvements at various locations along the Midland Main Line between London St Pancras International and Sheffield will raise the speed for passenger services from 110mph to a maximum permissible speed of 125mph.

Martin Frobisher, route managing director at Network Rail, said: "Our route plan sets out the investments we are making for the future, particularly our focus on new technology and electrification and creating more capacity."

The extension to Nottingham allows electric operation of the two Nottingham – St Pancras services each hour by December 2019. The route via Derby to Sheffield is then expected to be electrified by December 2021 in Network Rail's next control period (CP6).

It is anticipated that electrification of Sheffield – Doncaster, Swinton to South Kirkby Junction and Chesterfield – Beighton Junction – Rotherham would be part of an on going rolling programme of electrification to complete these parts of the Electric Spine in CP6.
On the London North Eastern line that connects the capital to Doncaster, commitment has been made to the Northern Hub project (£560m). The massive upgrading of the rail network of the North is set to create 20,000 jobs and increases rail capacity across the north of England by 700 services per day. Elements includes £45m for doubling Dore junction and Calder Valley journey time improvement.

It was hoped that the Northern Hub would lead to a faster journey time of 40 minutes between Sheffield and Manchester and trains every 20 minutes between Sheffield and Manchester.

The Northen Hub also has the potential to bring faster services to the recently redeveloped Rotherham Central station and an extra train every hour throughout the day to Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool.

Other Network Rail projects include increasing capacity at Sheffield with suburban train lengthening and delivery of extra capacity following electrification of the Midland Mainline and the Northern Hub.

In Rotherham, critical junction renewals are planned for Rotherham Masborough in 2013, Aldwarke Junction in 2014 and at Holmes Junction in 2015.

Network Rail also gave its support to the High Speed 2 project, the second phase of which will see lines extending north from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds by 2033, including the construction of an intermediate station in South Yorkshire.

Network Rail website

Images: Vossloh / Network Rail


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