Passengers in South Yorkshire have moved a step closer to getting a continental-style tram-train thanks to a £150,000 government grant to further develop the project, announced today (24 March 2011) by Transport Minister Norman Baker.
Tram-trains - which are designed to operate on both tram tracks and existing railways - could run between Sheffield and Rotherham, offering passengers faster journey times. Tram-trains are also lighter, more energy efficient and have faster acceleration and deceleration than conventional trains, making them greener and potentially cutting down on the need for maintenance works.
Today’s announcement means the government will provide funding for South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, Northern Rail and Network Rail to carry out further work on the business and project case for the pilot. It represents the next stage of plans for a South Yorkshire pilot scheme, announced in 2009.
Norman Baker said:
Tram-trains offer passengers travelling from rural and suburban areas into city centres a viable, environmentally sound alternative to short and medium car commuting that can cut congestion and reduce overcrowding at railway stations.
These sorts of rail fleets are already in use on the continent, but this is a first for the UK. The funding we are providing for this exciting project represents a real chance for us to test whether they can be adapted successfully for South Yorkshire and the rest of the UK.
Tram-trains could potentially run on the existing rail freight route from Rotherham before joining the Sheffield Supertram network at Meadowhall South.
The business and project case which the government is funding will look at a range of issues such as the economic and environmental benefits and could lead to tram-trains being introduced in South Yorkshire in 2014.
This announcement about the tram-train comes on the same day the government announced that they were allowing the Sheffield Highways Maintenance PFI project to continue to the next stage of the PFI funding approval process.
Notes to editors
A tram-train is designed to run on both urban light rail networks such as the Sheffield Supertram and conventional ‘heavy’ rail tracks.
Tram-trains already run successfully around the world, and particularly in Continental Europe. The concept was first introduced in recent times by the city of Karlsruhe in Germany, which was the first to link its street tramway and the main-line railway by running urban trams on both networks, creating the Stadtbahn Karlsruhe.
If introduced the new services would deliver 3 trams per hour all day between Sheffield city centre, the Lower Don Valley, Meadowhall shopping centre, Rotherham Central Station and Parkgate retail park.