Thursday, December 10, 2015

News: Plans in for Rotherham tram train stops


Network Rail has submitted plans for new tram stops at Rotherham Central and Parkgate in preparation for the innovative tram train service that is scheduled to reach the borough in 2017.

The delayed pilot project, first mentioned in 2009, will see vehicles running 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 will run all day from Sheffield city centre through the redeveloped Rotherham Central station to Parkgate retail park. The running time from Parkgate to Sheffield Cathedral will be about 25 minutes.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is the client in this project, with South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) responsible for the delivery of all of the light rail modifications, rail replacement and procurement of the seven vehicles. Network Rail is separately responsible to DfT to deliver the heavy rail modifications required for the project.

A planning application has been submitted for a light rail stop on Stonerow Way - the road which runs between the railway line and Parkgate Shopping Park - which would allow platforms, a shelter, information displays, cycle storage and CCTV to be installed. Access to the park would be via the path which runs between the Card Factory and Bensons for Beds units which currently links to footpaths and footbridges over the rail line and River Don.

A separate application would allow for the platform at Rotherham Central to be extended away from the station building by approximately 30 metres. With tram trains lower than Pacer trains, access to each tram train platform will be by means of a gently sloping surface with a gradient of 1:25 leading from the end of the existing platform.

Information displays and CCTV are also proposed in addition to anti-trespass measures are proposed to discourage passengers from trespassing onto the heavy rail system, particularly in relation to crossing the tracks to gain access to the opposite platform.

The new platforms are set to be built at Rotherham and Parkgate in Autumn 2016.
Supertram operators have an agreement with SYPTE and will be responsible for operating the service and maintaining the vehicles for a minimum of five years. For the first two years, the pilot period will be fully funded by DfT.

The project estimates that in the first year of opening there will be 269 people boarding and alighting the tram trains every day at Parkgate. With an additional 500+ trips a day from the retail park, it is estimated that this could reduce the number of car journeys on the congested route between Parkgate and Rotherham town centre by 259.

Tram train trips beyond Rotherham are assumed to board at Rotherham Central, saving an additional 2,072 kms taken in car journeys on the network.

The provision of park and ride facilities at Parkgate has not been considered in the current plans. The potential for a park and ride and even a new railway station is being examined.

The transport assessment states that: "It is possible that some vehicles will be attracted to the new station for commuting purposes. However, general parking charges discourage long stay parking at the retail park, where turnover of spaces is as much as 7/8 a day, so this scenario is unlikely.

"Given the retail park's car park operates at around 75% of capacity there is an element of car parking available for park and ride purposes provided a suitable and agreed management regime of such spaces is in place to the satisfaction of the park's owners.

"The numbers anticipated do not, at this stage, warrant provision of a dedicated area of parking for the station but it is to be kept under review."

The first vehicle was recently delivered to the Stagecoach depot in Sheffield.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones, said: "The unveiling of the UK's first tram train is a major milestone and paves the way for an impressive new fleet of passenger vehicles to come into service from next year.

"This government-funded pioneering project will help transform travel in South Yorkshire with better journeys and improved connections. It will also boost the economy of the local area and beyond. Good strategic transport links and infrastructure are central to rebalancing the economy, bringing the country closer together and the success of the Northern Powerhouse."

Steve Edwards, executive director at SYPTE, said: "Tram train will demonstrate the potential, both locally and nationally, of this new technology to deliver value for money services. It will provide a boost to the regional economy, thanks to improved connections across the region. And, if the pilot is successful, it opens the way for tram trains to be introduced in other parts of the country."

SYPTE website

Images: SYPTE / Network Rail


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