The South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) have recently put a bid in to the Department for Transport to fund the replacement of a large amount of street track which is said to be approaching the end of its safe working life. The bid makes the stark warning that without the replacement of the track it would be necessary to either close parts of or all of the Supertram network as it wouldn’t be safe for continued operation. The replacement of the track would take place between July 2013 and April 2015 and the chance would also be taken to bring sections up to the standard required for tram-trains.
The bid is for the renewal of “embedded track” across the system which is made up of a grooved rail held in a slot in a reinforced concrete track slab by a polymer and is exclusively used on paved sections in pedestrianised areas and also where the tramway runs along the road. This makes up 56% of the current Supertram network. It is feared that if this track is not replaced soon – cracks have started to appear in some areas – there will be the added risk of derailment and as a result the report bidding for the funding says that substantial sections of the network will have to close in summer 2013. All new tracks to be laid will be to the Tram-Train profile to “future proof” the network.
Two contracts are being offered by tender: Contract 1 is for urgent works which need to take place in summer 2013 with an estimated value of £3.9m. Tender documents were issued to five shortlisted contractors in November 2012 and these are currently being evaluated. This contract would see the replacement of track in Granville Road and Park Grange Road in the period between July and September 2013.
The second contract is the balance of works and has the estimated value of £10.5m. This contract will be procured by competitive tender in line with EU regulation using the restricted route as there is more time than for the first contract. A large amount of track is due to be replaced as part of this contract and this will include some relaying being part funded by the Tram-Train project (they will only fund sections of track where the Tram-Train service will operate). The first relaying is scheduled to start in August 2013 and should be completed by end of April 2015. The following areas are due to be relayed:
Ridgeway Road (August 2013)
Shalesmoor (August 2013)
City Hall – Tram-Train (August 2013)
Albert Terrace (September 2013)
Ripley Street (September 2013)
Wood Street (March/April 2014)
Capel Street (March/April 2014)
Infirmary Road (March/April 2014)
Cuthbert Bank Road (March/April 2014)
Hillsborough TS (March/April 2014)
Hillsborough Corner (March/April 2014)
Malin Bridge (May 2014)
White Lane/Fox Lane (May 2014)
City Road (June/July 2014)
Birley Moor Road (June/July 2014)
Sheffield Road (June/July 2014)
Donetsk Way (June/July 2014)
Cathedral-Netherthorpe Road – Tram-Train (July-September 2014)
Delta-Cathedral – Tram-Train (March-April 2015)
Railway Station-Tinsley (March-April 2015)
Hollinsend Road (March-April 2015)
Herdings (March-April 2015)
It can only be hoped that the SYPTE were trying to shock the DfT into giving them the money in the report as it certainly makes rather disturbing reading with apparent discussions taking place which would have seen either the closure of sections of the tramway (the southern section of the blue route was apparently considered) or even the whole system. The “Supertram Rail Replacement Pinch Point Bid” was officially submitted to the DfT on 21st February 2013.