The much delayed Tram-Train pilot which will eventually see services running between Sheffield City Centre and Rotherham Parkgate has been delayed even further with the BBC reporting that the first public services will not operate until Summer 2018. This will be some three years after it had originally been hoped that services would run and means that the extra time Network Rail needed from the last opening date announcement (early 2017) will amount to 18 months.
As we have reported before on these pages the Tram-Train plot will see the new vehicles – all now constructed and delivered to Sheffield – travel from the current Stagecoach Supertram network to Rotherham Parkgate joining Network Rail metals close to the Meadowhall South stop. Seven new vehicles have been ordered from Stadler (originally Vossoloh) to help form this service (which included three to help increase capacity on the rest of Supertram) and these are all now in Sheffield where the first stages of commissioning and testing have taken place.
No official announcement of Summer 2018 has been made yet with a South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive statement saying: “Network Rail, in discussion with the Department for Transport, is in the process of completing a thorough review of the current programme of works needed to adapt infrastructure to operate tram-train vehicles between Meadowhall South and Rotherham Parkgate. SYPTE hopes to receive confirmation on the rescheduled programme and an expected passenger service start date from Network Rail before the end of the year.”
One glimmer of hope from SYPTE is that they have confirmed that the first of Tram-Train vehicles will be used on the current Supertram network from Spring 2017; although obviously before this happens there will have to be a significant increase in testing of the fleet which seems to have also been much delayed.
There can be no doubt that the continued delays to this project are a major disappointment but hopefully when the official announcement is finally made by Network Rail – who seem to have been struggling with their side of the project for some time – there will at least be some clarity. And who knows the next date may actually be met?