Thursday, September 6, 2018

News: Another £1.2m needed for Sheffield-Rotherham tram-train project


The innovative Sheffield-Rotherham tram-train service requires an additional £1.2m to pay for an upgrade at the Supertram depot in Sheffield and cover increased costs.

The much-delayed and vastly over budget pilot project 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.

It has come in for scrutiny over cost increases and delays, the under-estimation of the scale and complexity of the works, and the risks involved in delivering new technology. Critising the Government and Network Rail, the Public Accounts Committee said that it had all the makings of a "how not to" seminar for future projects.

An earlier report from the National Audit Office (NAO) revealed that by December 2016, the cost of the works for the project, which had been given an initial estimate of £15m, had quadrupled to £75.1m, pushing the overall cost of the scheme over £100m.

Now the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive's (SYPTE's) capital programme is coming under pressure from further overspending. An additional £1.230m has been identified for the tram-train project.


An update to the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority states: "The estimated final cost of the SYPTE led elements of the project have increased as a result of the proposed installation of an additional gantry at the Nunnery Square tram depot (not in the original project scope, but requested by South Yorkshire Supertram Ltd (SYSL) due to operational difficulties in maintaining a larger fleet of vehicles), increased SYSL operational costs associated with the implementation of tram train, and ongoing prolongation costs incurred as a result of delays in entering into service.

"The revised estimated final cost currently exceeds the budget agreed with DfT in 2013 who are fully funding the project. Discussions are ongoing with DfT regards agreeing a revised budget figure which more realistically reflects the forecast out-turn cost of the project, mindful of the delays and changes since 2013. As a result of these factors, the 2018/19 budget was increased in Q1 to match planned expenditure."

The SYPTE, Northern Rail and Network Rail have been working together on a pilot project which was first announced in 2009.

Network Rail is responsible for the project to modify the national rail infrastructure. SYPTE is responsible for modifying the tramway section and buying new vehicles, while Stagecoach Supertram is testing the vehicles and will run the passenger service.

With agreement from the Department for Transport (DfT), partners developed a business case to combine the tram-train trial with the project to increase capacity on the existing Supertram network in Sheffield. The £18m project to introduce four new tram vehicles secured £12.3m from the DfT in 2011.

SYPTE was awarded an initial £51m from the DfT and had committed some £33m on seven new vehicles. The first vehicle was delivered at the end of 2015, long before the heavy rail track was ready to take passengers to Rotherham.

The NAO report also revealed that Stagecoach Supertram, which holds the concession to operate the tram network until 2024, was awarded £2.5m from the Government after claiming prolongation costs and loss of revenue because of the delays to starting the service.

The 2017-18 SYPTE business plan contained a capital project for the additional vehicles and tram-train worth £52.4m.

Testing and driver training is now underway along the heavy rail line.

Network Rail says that the new tram train route between Parkgate and Sheffield Cathedral is expected to open "by late autumn" 2018.

SYPTE website

Images: Martin Miller / YouTube / SYPTE


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