South Yorkshire’s Tram Train service will be used as a blueprint to benefit future UK transport schemes, as a two-year pilot to test the pioneering technology comes to an end.
Travelling on tramlines in Sheffield and the rail network in Rotherham, the award-winning service has taken on 1.5 million passenger journeys, and celebrated a 100% satisfaction rate, since its launch in October 2018.
The scheme’s success has driven a commitment for Tram Train to continue to run in South Yorkshire beyond the end of the pilot.
Rail Minister Chris Heaton Harris, said: “The South Yorkshire Tram Train is a flagship scheme that has transformed public transport connections in the region and could act as inspiration for similar schemes elsewhere.
“The £125m invested by the Department for Transport has resulted in millions of passengers using the new network, helping unlock our economy and better connect communities.”
Over ten transport authorities, including Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Cardiff, are seeking to create their own Tram Train service, following the success of the South Yorkshire scheme, which was funded by the Department for Transport and delivered by South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), Network Rail and Stagecoach Supertram.
SYPTE Executive Director, Stephen Edwards, said: “South Yorkshire’s Tram Train pilot - the first of its kind in the country – has demonstrated that this innovative technology has real potential to provide an additional transport option for UK urban areas. Bringing with it many benefits to local residents, businesses and communities, such as new direct connections, reduced congestion and improved air quality.
“Our region is leading the way for Tram Train learning and application in the industry. We’re proud to have delivered this important pilot locally, and to be part of the future opportunities the pioneering technology could provide - creating solid foundations for further Tram Train service and infrastructure development, both for our region and beyond.”
Ambitions have been set to extend Tram Train to other parts of South Yorkshire giving access to thousands along existing railway lines, including into Barnsley Dearne Valley, Waverly, Doncaster and Doncaster Sheffield Airport.
Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said: “Our region is a cradle of innovation and creativity and we're proud to have pioneered the UK’s first Tram Train connecting Sheffield and Rotherham.
“Across South Yorkshire we are building a transport system that is fit for the 21st century. To do this, we need to the Government to back our £400 million tram renewal programme. This would help us extend Tram Train to other parts of the region and unlock a stronger, greener, fairer South Yorkshire."
Plans in the region‘s Transforming Cities Fund scheme and Integrated Rail Plan for Tram Train also include a permanent 300-space park and ride at Parkgate in Rotherham and a new station and park and ride at Magna.
Providing a comprehensive range of lessons learned to the industry was a key requirement of the pilot, to progress work in future Tram Train schemes. The scheme’s monitoring tests and day to day observations over a two-year period will evaluate the connectivity and economic potential of the technology, including around cost differences, technical standards, and operations.
Tim Bilby, Managing Director of Stagecoach Supertram, said: “We are extremely proud to have helped lead the way in this award-winning and innovative trial, which will be used to develop other similar schemes round the country. Most crucially, this will support the development of further public transport connections which are critical to the country’s green recovery.
“From its launch, passenger numbers and customer satisfaction have exceeded expectations, proving that Tram Train offers an affordable and efficient way to connect Sheffield City Centre and Rotherham.”
The pilot’s significant construction milestones included installing new track, power supplies and platforms at Rotherham Central and Parkgate. All contributing to enabling the complex project to develop new standards, infrastructure and ways of working which allows vehicles to run on both tramlines and the rail network.
Simon Coulthard, Head of Light Rail Knowledge and Development for Network Rail, said: “Over the last two years, the Tram Train service has improved connections between Parkgate and Sheffield, via Rotherham and Meadowhall for passengers, using the existing railway and tramlines, as well as new track and power supplies.
“Following the success of this pilot scheme in South Yorkshire, we have a new dedicated team working to support similar projects across the country.
“Network Rail is also working closely with Transport for the North and Sheffield City Region on the potential to expand Tram Train across South Yorkshire to help transform journeys and connect local communities.”