SHEFFIELD City Region’s Transport Committee has welcomed the Government announcement (on Friday 12 December) to explore options to give more control over the delivery of local transport schemes.
The Deputy Prime Minister’s commitment to a Sheffield City Region Devolution Deal will see Government work with Network Rail to ensure the revolutionary Tram Train project is delivered.
Passengers in the county will be the first in the UK to benefit from the innovative new Tram Trains that will run both on the Supertram network and on part of the national rail network between Sheffield and Rotherham.
Part of the major works to make the scheme a reality include electrification of the rail network between Sheffield and Rotherham, and the construction of a 400 metre line linking the tramway to the train tracks to allow seamless travel.
Tram Train vehicles are currently being manufactured, and work to the tramway and depot to accommodate Tram Trains is well underway.
Project timescales have been revised to incorporate the comprehensive design works needed to adapt the rail network to allow Tram Train vehicles to run. Passenger services are expected to operate from 2017.
Network Rail Route Managing Director, Phil Verster, said: “Tram Train will bring lasting benefits to passengers in the Sheffield and Rotherham areas, and detailed design of the infrastructure to support this exciting project is well underway. We assessed our delivery programme and the work needed to adapt the network is expected to be complete to allow Tram Train passenger services to start in January 2017.
“We must make sure we are maximising efficiencies by aligning the project with our other investment programmes. The revised project timescale is also allowing us to improve the alignment of the route at Meadowhall, better utilising the existing tramway stop and creating an improved experience for the passenger.”
Consultation with stakeholders, landowners and local groups on the proposal for work on the tramway at Meadowhall will take place in January and February 2015.
As well as providing a boost to the regional economy thanks to improved connections across the region, the project is also expected to create 35 new jobs locally. If the pilot is successful, it opens the way for Tram Trains to be introduced in other parts of the country.
South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive Interim Director General, Ben Still, said: “The Tram Train project will provide important enhanced local connectivity and demonstrate the potential, both locally and nationally, of this new technology to deliver value for money services.
“The first of seven Tram Trains will arrive in September 2015 for testing and people will be able to travel on them on the Supertram network before October 2016, enhancing capacity.”
From early 2017 three Tram Train services per hour are expected to operate from Parkgate Retail Park in Rotherham, via Rotherham Central Station, before joining the existing Supertram network at Meadowhall South and continuing to Sheffield city centre.
Stagecoach Supertram Managing Director, Margaret Kay, said: “We have a strong track record of providing high quality, good value services to the people of Sheffield every day of the week and we look forward to being able to expand our services even further through this important project.”
Northern Rail Managing Director, Alex Hynes, said: "We are delighted to have been able to play a key role in the development and delivery of this exciting project, a project which will in turn benefit many in and around South Yorkshire."