Tram-Train pilot comes to an end as other local authorities seek to create their own

When the Tram-Train pilot between Sheffield and Rotherham was conceived it was always due to be a two year pilot but with that period now up (it having launched in October 2018) it has been confirmed – as if confirmation was needed as the amount of investment involved in the scheme was unlikely to see it abandoned after a couple of years – that the service will continue to operate. Various local and national transport officials have also come out to say how much a success it has been and that it is planned to be a blueprint for other areas with over ten local authorities said to be interested as South Yorkshire also looks for further lines.

Chris Heaton Harris, Rail Minister at the Department for Transport, was one of those praising the pilot: “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.”

Other local authorities around the UK are now said to be looking into their own Tram-Train service including Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Cardiff (the press release states that over ten are looking at similar schemes but doesn’t name any more).

The South Yorkshire region is also looking to expand with further Tram-Train services as well. This could see links to Barnsley Dearne Valley, Waverly, Doncaster and Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

Stephen Edwards, the SYPTE’s Executive Director, 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.”

The Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, Dan Jarvis, also took the opportunity to call on government backing for the renewal of the current tramway: “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.”

Simon Coulthard, Head of Light Rail Knowledge and Development for Network Rail, added: “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.”

And not to be left out 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 Tram-Train service between Cathedral and Rotherham Parkgate is currently running to a revised timetable with two an hour rather than the previous standard three an hour. It uses the Citylink tram-trains which were ordered for the service to start.

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