First tram train officially unveiled

Some 10 days after arriving in South Yorkshire the UK’s very first tram train has been officially unveiled at Stagecoach Supertram’s Nunnery Square Depot with local and national politicians on hand to see just what all the fuss is about. As we have previously reported 399 201 arrived in Sheffield on Monday 30th November and since arriving has seen the completion of its livery and has also made its first tentative moves around the depot complex.

Thursday 10th December was the day chosen for 399 201 to be officially unveiled to the media and other interested parties with the official unveiling undertaken by Andrew Jones, Transport Minister. Mr Jones had this to say about the tram trains: “The unveiling of the UK’s first tram train is a major milestone and paves the way for an impressive new fleet of passenger vehicles to come into service from next year. This government-funded pioneering project will help transform travel in South Yorkshire with better journeys and improved connections. It will also boost the economy of the local area and beyond. Good strategic transport links and infrastructure are central to rebalancing the economy, bringing the country closer together and the success of the Northern Powerhouse.”

Margaret Kay, Stagecoach Supertram Managing Director, added: “We are delighted to welcome the first tram train to the Nunnery Square depot. It’s exciting to see this new state of the art vehicle in its new home. We very much look forward to inviting our customers onboard next year so they can begin benefitting from this great addition. In the meantime we will continue to train our new drivers and test the new vehicle at both the depot and across the network.”

It is planned that the tram train service will start operating between Sheffield and Rotherham Parkgate from early 2017 (the service is expected to run from Cathedral to Rotherham Parkgate) once the infrastructure is in place and the tram trains have gone through the full commissioning process. The pilot scheme is due to last for two years but if this is proved to be successful it will continue to run as a local service. But you shouldn’t have to wait that long to enjoy a ride on one of the tram trains as ahead of this at least some of them are expected to be used on the current Supertram network to enable extra services to be run.

A schedule of when things should happen with this project has also been released:

December 2015 – Tram trains testing begins

January 2016 – Supertram tracks prepared for tram train

Spring 2016 – Construction of track to link tram network to railway line

Summer 2016 – Three tram trains introduced on Supertram network

Autumn 2016 – New platforms built at Rotherham Station and Rotherham Parkgate

Winter 2016 – Completion and electrification of the tram train network

Early 2017 – Tram train passenger services begin

3992 201 is seen during the unloading process at Nunnery Square on 1st December. (Photograph by Stuart Cooke)

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15 Responses to First tram train officially unveiled

  1. Look forward to seeing it on test and filming it to add to my scant Sheffield films. Really hope the Tram Train tests are successful.

  2. Mark Sheppard says:

    What’s the difference between a super tram e.g. those running on the Manchester Metrolink light rail system and Tram Train?

    • Steve Hyde says:

      The main difference is in the crashworthiness standard which is higher in the case of a tram train. The M5000 for example has an end loading of 400kN whereas a tram train may be as high as 800kN. A train would have a minimum end loading of 2000kN to comply with current standards. The tram train should be compatible with the buffer heights for a rail vehicle.

      Other differences would include on board signalling equipment such as both TPWS and tramway vehicle detection systems and items such as radio and other communications system for both tramway and railway. Wheel profiles may also be different although in the case of the Sheffield trial the tramway is being made compatible with the tram train profile as the track is relaid.

  3. Nigel Pennick says:

    Almost a repeat of Edinburgh where the trams were delivered before the route was operational. In this case, it doesn’t exist yet. Why can the British hardly ever get their projects operational on time, delaying them for years longer than necessary when they could be accomplished without delay? I see from a source that the changeover switch between DC and AC overhead in the cab has a tram logo for DC (tram) and a steam train logo for AC (train) – bizarre, to say the least, for an advanced rail vehicle in 2015.

    • Kev says:

      They have been delivered early so they can be tested on the Tramway and provide extra capacity for SuperTram.
      The Steam Loco is a common symbol for train, stops any confusion as modern Trams and Trains look alike in a stylised drawing! Does the Highway code not also have this symbol?

      • Nigel Pennick says:

        I know that they use that obsolete logo, but they don’t have signs with a Wright Brothers biplane to signify an aircraft, or a Ford Model T for a car.

        • Anonymous says:

          Complaining about which pictogram is used for which traction supply is beyond petty. They could be a duckbills platypus and a pineapple for all that it matters. As long as the driver knows which is which, then there is no problem.

  4. John Stewart says:

    What voltage will the extension be? Last week’s Rail says 25kv ac on page 20 and 750v dc on page 89. I’ve read similar conflict elsewhere but it’s always useful to quote it in the same journal. The trams are dual-voltage, but unless the line to Parkgate is 25kv the “experiment” cannot test any snags from the changeover.

  5. roger woodhead says:

    Are these vehicles fitted with track brakes? I can envisage possible problems with track circuits on Network Rail if they are applied.

    • Kev says:

      Aren’t they only for emergencies?

      • roger woodhead says:

        Yes they are for use in emergencies but they can occur anywhere can’t they?

        • Kev says:

          So we shouldn’t use an emergency braking system in case the track circuits don’t like it? I would imagine that IF this is an issue it has altready been considered.

    • Steve Hyde says:

      The investigation into the use of track brakes on heavy rail infrastructure forms one of the key parts of the trial. That’s despite their use for over 20 years on Network rail owned infrastructure and track circuits on Metrolink at Altrincham. Admittedly that involves only one type of track circuit, GEC reed. They were also used successfully for nearly 20 years on Metrolink’s own infrastructure where 2 very different types (GEC Reed and Adtranz TI21) were in use.

  6. john clover says:

    are supertram staff going to be driving the tram trains or british rail staff, and what is the pay going to be because a train driver must get payed more than a tram driver