Wednesday, March 18, 2020

News: Cost of Supertram renewal rises to £439m


The Sheffield City Region (SCR) Mayoral Combined Authority is set to ask the Government to foot most of the £439m bill to renew the existing Supertram network.

Rothbiz reported previously that the initial targeted Government pot of transport funding no longer exists but now the recent budget has signalled a way forward.

The Government indicated its support for the Supertram renewal as part of £4.2 billion additional transport funding available to Combined Authorities announced last week.

The £439m capital bid is set to be discussed by the authority this month.

The preferred option  of renewal with improved services includes: a new fleet of 28 trams, to provide an enhanced service (up to 7.5 trams per hour; further rail and track renewals; improved passenger facilities; the refurbishment and extension of the depot; renewal of control, signalling and communications systems and; renewed and enlarged power supply.

The Estimated Final Cost (EFC) for the works in the preferred option is £312.5m at 2018/19 prices. The price at outturn (i.e. including inflation) is £439m.

The scope of the preferred option does not include any work on the new Tram-Train extension to Rotherham, any extensions to the existing network or any new or extended Park & Ride sites.


Transport bosses hope that most of the capital costs will be funded by a Government grant, with the SCR set to make a local contribution as part of its commitment to the scheme. Based on discussions to date with DfT and stakeholders, this has reduced from 25% to 7% (£21.8m at 2018/19 prices).

Officers believe that the option can pass the Government's benefit–cost ratio (BCR) threshold of 2.0. By including the Tram-Train scheme the BCR reduces to 1.65.

Papers going before the Mayoral Combined Authority state: "The current Mass Transit network provides a vital service to Sheffield and the wider City Region, offering a strong platform for facilitating more sustainable travel choices. Securing the long-term future of the network is a key priority and is important in delivering future growth and development plans."

The SCR has set out ambitions in its transport strategy to extend mass transit including tram, bus rapid transit, rail and highway options. Ideas include a new service to the south east and investigating opportunities between Sheffield, the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID) and Rotherham.

The £166m recently announced as SCR's share of the Transforming Cities Fund may be the source of funding for any extensions.

Opened in 1994, Sheffield's Supertram system cost £240m and now serves major residential and employment sites in Sheffield. A delayed tram-train pilot project brought new vehicles to Rotherham in 2018.

Stagecoach's operating contract runs until 2024. Stagecoach assumed responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the network. Ownership of the asset remains with SYPTE.

The papers add: "The current preferred model, after the current concession ends in 2024, is that the operation of the network be carried out by an organisation owned by the public sector with renewal works (to 2028) managed by SYPTE/SCR.

"Market testing shows that during the period of the renewal works, there is no-one willing to take the revenue risk as SYSL [a subsidiary of Stagecoach] do now. The option to enter into a short term (4/6 years) operating contract with a private sector operator, with the public sector retaining revenue risk, continues to be investigated."

Images: Stagecoach


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