399 202 arrives in Sheffield

Sheffield is now the proud home of two tram-trains following the arrival of 399 202 on Tuesday 24th May. The vehicle was delivered one piece (unlike the recent arrivals for Midland Metro) and has now been unloaded and moved into the workshops at Nunnery Square where its long road to entering service will now progress.

It was back on 30th November 2015 that the first of the vehicles – constructed by Vossloh at their Valencia works in Spain – arrived in Sheffield and after much fanfare 10 days later which saw the tram officially unveiled to the press 399 201 has been undergoing testing and commissioning. As the first of its type to be delivered the commissioning programme is a detailed process which started off being confined to the depot grounds before it started to be allowed out and about on the network. It is believed that this original vehicle has only been out on the main Supertram network after dark so far.

There are seven of these tram-trains on order for Supertram with four of them required for the much delayed pilot service to Rotherham Parkgate and the remainder ordered to increase capacity on the current network. It is expected that the first of the vehicles will enter service on Supertram services later this year although no further details have yet been announced as to when this will happen. When the full fleet is available and the tram-train pilot is up and running it is understood that there four trams for Rotherham will be more or less dedicated to that service as the wheel profiles required will be different and although there will be a spare set of Supertram wheelsets at Nunnery Square these are unlikely to be swapped over on a regular basis.

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9 Responses to 399 202 arrives in Sheffield

  1. John Stewart says:

    This sounds a little odd. Surely all seven will have the same wheel profile which has been developed to be compatible with both the existing tramway track and with NR track. Whilst four might be required for the Rotherham service, having another three with the technical capability to go there seems eminently sensible.

  2. Tony Sullivan says:

    On a brief visit to Sheffield today I saw from a distance 399 202 moving around the yard at Nunnery depot. I was told that this was to ensure certain things like the indicator blinds worked! 399 201 was just visible inside the depot building.

  3. Nigel Pennick says:

    I was under the impression that all the street track in Sheffield was re-laid with new rail to the specifications of the tram-trains’ wheel profiles so they could run anywhere on the system. If they cannot, then that defeats the object the exercise.

  4. Gil Sutherland says:

    This surely makes a nonsense of the whole concept of Tram Train. I too was under the impression that city track had been relaid to accommodate the new wheel profiles. What is the point of four vehicles allowed on the Rotherham service not being allowed on to city tracks, thereby defeating the object of a “through service?”

    How is it that cities such as Karlsruhe have no such problem with their cars being equally at home on the streets and railway tracks, thereby giving travellers a seamless, fast and convenient service?

  5. Nigel Pennick says:

    Karlsruhe’s non-problem goes back to the century old DIN – German Industry Standard and the specifications for tramways which means that there is compatibility between all systems in Germany wherever they operate. Here in the UK one could not take a London Tramlink tram and run it in Sheffield. There has been no attempt to standardize specifications in the UK.

  6. Harpers Tate says:

    Most of the on-street tram tracks are not suitable for the wheel profile necessary for heavy rail running. Thus there are two wheel profiles: tram system and railway.

    Certain on-street tracks have been relaid recently, including the section from Park Square to Cathedral, with inset tracks that WILL permit the use of trams headed to or from Parkgate, and that is the only part of the tram network currently intended to be served by them. The wheel profile needed for the majority of the on-street network is different – at least until that, too, is relaid.

    Hence the need for dedicated vehicles for the two types of service.

  7. Franklyn says:

    I still can’t see the point of this tram train thing. If there really was a demand for trasport between Sheffield and Rotherham surely there are plenty of buses or even trains from either Sheffield Station or Meadowhall?

    And if all the on-street track needs relaying to allow the Rotherham trams to run on it, while Network Rail do sod-all as usual, surely the trackwork would have been better being done on a new street running system to Rotherham, rather than sending the tram down a railway track where the oportunities to stop and pick up passengers will be limited.

    The non-compatibility seems ridiculous, especially when you consider how many tramways accomodated railway wagons in the past. I was under the impression when this project was first announced that a compromise profile was going to be used for the wheels, allowing inter-running. If there really are going to be two wheel sets required then at least one of the 7 trams will be confined to depot as a spare for the Rotherham cars. This means the fleet will be effectively 6 but cost the price of 7. Also they would need two spare wheel sets, not one, depending on weather a given car needs heavy rail or tramway wheels fitting. However I suspect they will just get a spare heavy rail set.

    Next, has anyone considered the coupling compatibility for emergency towing?

  8. Paul D says:

    I would be interested to know where the “understanding” about different wheel profiles and spare wheelsets has come from…

    Speaking to a current SuperTram Driver he said it was incorrect (well something a bit less polite but with the same meaning…).
    He also said there WILL be a dedicated pool of Drivers trained to work the Rotherham service (which will have a peak requirement of 4 vehicles) and those vehicles won’t interwork with other routes during the course of a days duty, but all seven WILL be capable of going anywhere on the network without any adaptation.

  9. Chris Mitchell says:

    I found this report from 2008 on the net, which does not deal with the Blackpool upgrade but does most others. Search for :-

    “Determination of Tramway Wheel and Rail Profiles
    to Minimise Derailment”

    I was absolutely amazed to see how each modern UK system has a different wheel profile! I have always been disappointed that there isn’t a UK standard for length, width, door spacing etc so that trams could be loaned between operators but to differ at this level is baffling.

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