Major Supertram rail replacement project ends


Supertram services resume following the completion of essential works to replace 22.5 km of rail over six years.

A multi-million pound project to extend the lifespan of the Supertram network has concluded, replacing a total of 22.5 km of rail over six years. Tram services on the Blue route were reintroduced earlier this month, putting the tram system back into full operation.

South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) has worked closely with Stagecoach – who runs the service – and contractor VolkerRail to complete the works as quickly as possible to minimise the disruption to customers and residents. Strict controls were put in place to ensure all VolkerRail employees operated under carefully managed conditions, in line with the latest government guidelines for working during the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the restrictions imposed on the contractors, the project was delivered on time and within budget.

“Supertram has served millions of South Yorkshire passengers over 25 years of operation. Rail wear is inevitable over time and this major project was essential to ensure services continued to run safely. We’ve been replacing sections of rail in stages over a six-year programme, concentrating on curves and gradients where the rail is subject to heavy wear. The new rail will improve passengers’ comfort while travelling on the trams, providing a smoother, quieter journey”, said SYPTE’s Director of Transport Operations, Pat Beijer.

“We’re very pleased to have fully re-opened an improved network, and grateful to Supertram customers and local residents and businesses for their patience while these critical works took place. The project will help to secure the long-term future of one of our region’s most beloved modes of transport.”

John Pearson, VolkerRail General Manager, said: “We are extremely pleased to have been able to fully complete this year’s stage of track replacement works and extend the lifespan of Sheffield’s tram network. Our strong relationship with SYPTE and Supertram, as well as our detailed safety protocols meant all parties were able to continue working ‘as normal’ throughout the pandemic and all deadlines were met.”

Tim Bilby, Managing Director of Stagecoach Supertram, added: “Millions of journeys are made on our tram network every year to get to work, education and to connect with shopping and leisure. This significant investment in the network allows this zero-emissions travel choice to continue and enables more comfortable journeys.

“We would like to thank everybody for bearing with us whilst this crucial work has been taking place.” 

Before the Coronavirus pandemic, about 12 million journeys were made on the tram every year. The network comprises four lines and 50 stops, covering 22 miles and connecting passengers to work, education, health and leisure opportunities. The opening of the Supertram was vital to regenerate several areas of the city.

Supertram is a fully accessible system considered safe and comfortable by over 90% of respondents in the latest Transport Focus Survey. Its cleanliness and punctuality also fared high and 96% of respondents are either satisfied or very satisfied with their overall journey.