Monday, July 8, 2013

News: Tram train welcomed in Rotherham


The innovative tram train scheme between Sheffield and Rotherham, the first project of its kind in the country, has been given a warm welcome in Rotherham.

The £60m 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. Operated by Stagecoach, three trams an hour would run all day from Sheffield city centre through the redeveloped Rotherham Central station to Parkgate retail park.

The contracts to deliver the scheme were signed off last month by Norman Baker MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Transport.

The pilot will run for two years from 2016 with a view to permanent operation. If it is successful, it opens the way for tram-trains to be introduced in other parts of the country.

The improved connectivity between Sheffield and Rotherham will be a bonus. The main aim of the scheme is to prove that the tram train technology works, determine the practical and operational issues and gauge passenger perception. Popular in Europe, this will be the first time that tram trains have operated in the UK.

Phil Verster, route managing director for Network Rail, said: "Tram-Trains offer a real opportunity to improve transport links in urban areas.

"We have already learned a significant amount about how a Tram-Train could benefit Britain's rail network through the feasibility and design process. Now we can look forward to introducing the vehicles onto the network. We believe this project will bring lasting benefits to passengers in the Sheffield and Rotherham areas."

Andrew Denniff, executive director of Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber, said: "This is excellent news and well overdue. The Chamber has been lobbying for nearly five years to get this project up and running, it can't happen quickly enough as far as we are concerned.

"A £60 million investment in our region has to be welcomed and who knows if it proves a success, we might even get a station at Magna, with all the potential around a park n ride facility that might be developed there."

Denis Copeland, manager of Parkgate Shopping, added: "This is great news for Rotherham and Parkgate, and it will provide our many loyal customers with an alternative and possibly more convenient method of travelling to and from the shopping park."

Tram trains are one of a number of alternative solutions for future, cost-effective options for growth being studied by the transport industry.

Network Rail, the owners and operators of Britain's rail infrastructure, has committed £13m to the Sheffield to Rotherham tram train pilot project and recently published its alternative solutions network route utilisation strategy, highlighting how tram trains can extend local services cost effectively by using the existing rail network.

Paul Plummer, group strategy director at Network Rail, said: "To maintain the mandate to further invest in our railway, the industry has to demonstrate a clear commitment to greater efficiency and cost effectiveness. This means being open to alternative solutions and we hope that this new study will prompt fresh thinking and debate about the best way to deliver an improved rail network that meets the needs of all stakeholders."

Network Rail website

Images: Network Rail


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