• Next stage of tram rail replacement works to start this month
• Engineering work to replace worn out tram tracks will begin in Hillsborough/Malin Bridge
• Contingency plans in place to ensure minimal disruption for passengers
WORK to renew the Supertram network through a major programme of essential rail replacement works is set to resume this month.
Tram network owner South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) and system operator Stagecoach Supertram are funding the project, with the majority of work being undertaken during the next four years at an estimated capital cost of £32million. A £5 million grant has been provided by DfT for the initial phase.
The first stage of the project was completed in 2013 by contractor VolkerRail, and saw almost 5,000 metres of rail replaced between Spring Lane and Park Grange Croft tram stops.
The next stage of the works, which begin on Saturday 29 March in the Hillsborough/Malin Bridge area of the city, will see VolkerRail continue to replace worn out sections of tram track across the whole of the Supertram network. The work, which is essential to protect the city’s tram network for the future, is expected to continue until September.
The majority of the Supertram network will be open for business as usual, however the works will cause inevitable disruption, bus replacement services will be in operation to minimise the disruption to passengers as much as possible.
In addition, Supertram’s 13-week tram only online Megarider will be reduced from £131 to a promotional price of £95 to recognise how the works may affect some of their regular customers. The tram/bus Megarider weekly and Dayrider tickets available on board still represent great value.
For the areas affected, comprehensive bus replacement information will be available on the SYPTE website, Sheffield Supertram website and via Twitter as well as through leaflets, posters and information on tram stops.
Detailed information about the works will also be distributed by VolkerRail to local residents and retailers in the affected areas.
David Young, SYPTE Deputy Interim Director General, said: “The tram network is critical to daily life and helping people to get jobs and training, as well as leisure trips off-peak. The tram is a great way to travel around Sheffield, but this work is essential to the future operation of the system and the benefits it brings to the region.
“During the work, there will be some short-term disruption for some tram users, residents and businesses and we would like to thank everyone in advance for their patience and understanding. Once the project is completed, everyone travelling in Sheffield will benefit.”
Supertram Managing Director Margaret Kay said: “This project is essential to ensure Sheffield’s tram services can continue for years to come, long after our existing contract has ended. During the works over the next few months, the majority of our services across the network will run as normal, however some sections of the system will be affected, with buses replacing trams at times. This will cause short-term disruption for some customers but we will be doing everything we can to minimise the impact of the works on our passengers.”
Ken Robinson, Director of Specialist Businesses at VolkerRail said: We are delighted that SYPTE has chosen us to continue with this important rail replacement programme. Although a challenging project, we are sector specialists in tram track replacement and have a robust plan in place to deliver the project in the most efficient way possible."
The rail replacement project is made up of infrastructure costs as well as other consequential costs associated with the work. As infrastructure owner, SYPTE is investing in the track renewal work. South Yorkshire Supertram Limited (SYSL), part of Stagecoach Group, will contribute to the infrastructure work, cover any reduced passenger revenue associated with the temporary service disruption, and will fund the extra resources required to deliver the tram replacement bus services while work is on-going.
The Government has already awarded £5million from the Department for Transport’s Local Pinch Point Fund to help fund the project.
Around 20 years after the track was originally laid, large sections of rail are close to being life-expired following years of use by trams as well as wear and tear caused by heavy road traffic.
Measures taken by Supertram engineers have already extended the lifetime of the track by as much as five years. However, despite that, around 22km of the tram route needs the rail replacing by 2024.
The work being carried out will be aligned with the planned tram train pilot project which was announced by the Department for Transport (DfT) in May 2012. The project, which is expected to be in operation by 2016, will see a new tram train link –operated by Supertram - between Sheffield and Rotherham.
Once the replacement work is complete, it is thought that the new rails – made from harder wearing steel - will have a life-expectancy of 25-30 years.
Stagecoach Supertram operates on three tram routes in Sheffield, covering 29km and is used by around 15million passengers a year.
For more information on SYPTE visit www.sypte.co.uk
For further information about Stagecoach Supertram or to purchase tickets, visit www.supertram.com
For more information on VolkerRail visit www.VolkerRail.co.uk