THE UK’S FIRST Tram Train vehicle has started its journey to Sheffield from Spain.
The fully-constructed, 37m long Tram Train will make a two week voyage over land and sea from Valencia, via Santander, Southampton, and the M1 Motorway before arriving in South Yorkshire on 1 December.
Passengers in the county will be the first in the UK to benefit from the innovative new Tram Trains – a tram-type vehicle that has the signalling, power supply, control and communication technology to run on both street tram lines and the rail network.
Painted in Stagecoach Supertram’s blue, orange and red, three Tram Trains an hour will run between Sheffield and Rotherham from 2017. Passengers will be able to board a Tram Train from Cathedral tram stop in Sheffield and, in a single journey, travel via Meadowhall South onto the main rail line to Parkgate via Rotherham Central station. The running time from Parkgate to Cathedral will be about 25 minutes.
The arrival of the first of seven Tram Trains marks an important milestone for the two-year pilot scheme, delivered by South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, Network Rail, Stagecoach Supertram, Northern Rail and the Department for Transport, to see if Tram Train technology can be used elsewhere in the UK.
Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: “This is a great milestone in the pioneering Tram Train project which, when complete, will mean better journeys for passengers in South Yorkshire, as well as helping to boost the economy of the local area and beyond. I am looking forward to seeing the first vehicle arrive in Sheffield next month.”
Once the Tram Trains have arrived they will undergo testing before three of the vehicles are introduced on the Supertram network in Summer 2016 to provide more tram services for passengers during peak times. Changes have already been made to the Nunnery Square Supertram depot which will house the Tram Trains, and parts of the tram network have been replaced to allow the vehicles to run.
Speaking on behalf of the Tram Train project team, SYPTE’s Executive Director Steve Edwards, added: “Tram Train is a first for the UK. The design and planning to make Tram Trains run is a complex operation and we’re delighted this important milestone brings us one step closer to making the scheme a reality.
“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.”
Part of the major works to make the scheme a reality also includes the electrification of the rail network between Sheffield and Rotherham, building new Tram Train platforms at Rotherham Central and Parkgate, and the construction of a new 160 metre section of track – called the ‘Tinsley Chord’ - linking the tramway to the train line near Meadowhall.
Approval by the Secretary of State for Transport to construct the ‘Tinsley Chord’ was welcomed by SYPTE and Network Rail in November 2015.
South Yorkshire’s Tram Train pilot will run for two years while customer satisfaction, passenger numbers, reliability and costs are tested. Tram Train will continue to run as a local service if the pilot is successful.
For more information visit www.sypte.co.uk/tramtrain