Government Transport Minister Paul Maynard MP was joined by transport leaders and representatives from Sheffield Children’s Hospital for the introduction of the first Citylink Tram Train into passenger service on the Supertram network in Sheffield today.
To celebrate the occasion, Stagecoach Supertram and South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) named the first tram after The Children's Hospital Charity’s mascot, Theo, and invited passengers on the first journey to make a donation to the charity rather than paying a fare.
Transport Minister Paul Maynard, said “South Yorkshire's Tram Train project is the first of its kind in the country and will transform services for passengers, enabling quick and easy movement across the region, reducing journey times and boosting the economy.
"The first passenger service is a significant milestone for this scheme which remains on track to be completed next year and will improve journeys between Sheffield and Rotherham."
The launch of Theo the tram marks an important milestone for the unique pilot scheme, and has allowed passengers in South Yorkshire to be the first in Great Britain to travel on the innovative tram vehicle.
Theo the tram will also be in service on Sunday 17 September as a special charity service with Supertram staff collecting donations for The Children's Hospital Charity once again.
SYPTE Executive Director, Stephen Edwards, “The introduction of the first Citylink vehicle on to the passenger network in Sheffield is an important milestone for Tram Train, and we’re thrilled that we’ve been able to use this opportunity to raise funds for The Children’s Hospital Charity.”
Interim Managing Director for Supertram, Tim Bilby said, "We are delighted to be giving passengers in South Yorkshire the chance to be the first in Great Britain to travel on these innovative new tram vehicles today.
"Following successful completion of a programme of testing, commissioning and training, today is an important day for all passengers travelling across the network and is the next step towards the launch of tram train services to Rotherham next year.
"It's also a great opportunity for us to work with The Children's Hospital Charity and we're proud to be naming our first vehicle in service after Theo their mascot. We hope this will help to raise the profile of this important charity that is held close to the heart of many of our passengers."
John Somers, Chief Executive of Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We are delighted that the new Citylink Tram Train is being named in honour of our charity mascot, Theo. We're so proud of our city and it is exciting to be part of this latest Sheffield development.
"It is fantastic that on these services for two days, passengers can donate to The Children's Hospital Charity instead of paying fares on the new vehicle. Your generosity will help make things even better for our young patients."
Martin McKervey, Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership board member and partner at international law firm CMS, said: “Launching this new tram today is a crucial step in the tram train project, which is set to improve connectivity within Sheffield City Region and make it easier for residents, visitors and businesspeople to move around our urban centres quickly and easily.
“I'm proud that we are the first region in the country to pioneer this innovative technology. Improving transport links is also a key priority in our new Inclusive Industrial Strategy, as we drive forward our aims in ensuring everyone across the city region is able to benefit from, and be a part of, our economic growth.”
Sheffield Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Sustainability, Cllr Jack Scott, said: “Today is an important milestone in our ambitious plans for tram-train and is a clear signal that the project is now well on track.
“It is great that Sheffield is able to pioneer this type of cutting edge innovation. Connecting Sheffield and Rotherham in this way will bring big economic benefits to people across the whole area.”
Rotherham Council’s Cabinet Member for Jobs and the Local Economy, Cllr Denise Lelliott, said: “It is incredibly exciting to be travelling on this innovative tram vehicle on its inaugural journey across the Supertram network, ahead of the new tram train route to Rotherham being opened in 2018.”
South Yorkshire’s new Citylink vehicles, which have been designed and produced by Stadler, will be used in the regular Supertram timetable from October to support the existing tram service across the network until the new tram train route from Sheffield to Rotherham is opened in 2018, once rail infrastructure work, testing and driver training is complete.
Iñigo Parra, CEO of Stadler Rail Valencia: "We are proud to have participated by delivering vehicles to the success of the first tram-train project in the U.K."
South Yorkshire’s Tram Train pilot will run for two years during which customer satisfaction, passenger numbers, reliability and costs are measured.
After this pilot period, Tram Train will continue to run as a local service.
For more information visit sypte.co.uk/tramtrain