Light rail and trams


DfT approves plans to build Tinsley Chord

The Department for Transport (DfT) has approved plans to build the Tinsley Chord which will allow the UK’s first tram-trains to run in South Yorkshire. 

A joint Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) application was made to the secretary of state for transport earlier this year by Network Rail and the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) to build the new 160m section of railway. 

Network Rail says that now the TWAO has been confirmed it can begin work on the track, overhead lines to carry the electricity to power the tram-trains, as well as constructing a small building to house lineside equipment. 

However, Network Rail could not confirm when the work will start, but did say it is expected to take approximately eight months to complete. 

The £60m tram-train pilot project was originally announced in May 2012 and was intended to begin operation from 2015, however it has since been beset by delays due to complications in adapting the heavy rail network for tram-train operation. 

At this year’s UK Light Rail Conference in Nottingham, Simon Coulthard, Network Rail’s head of the tram-train project, admitted that design problems have affected the pace of work and that the infrastructure picture hasn’t been positive. 

“There are a lot of reasons why it has taken us longer to do the design. It is true that we are learning lessons the hard way,” he said. “I still don’t quite understand why we’ve had three goes at traction power modelling and each time the model was giving us different answers about what the design of the traction power system should be.” 

RTM recently reported that the country’s first tram-train vehicle has been shipped to Sheffield from its testing site at Vossloh España’s plant near Valencia. It is due in the steel city on 1 December. 

Steve Edwards, the newly appointed executive director for SYPTE, said: “We welcome approval of the TWAO for Tinsley Chord. 

“The tram-train pilot will provide a boost to the regional economy, thanks to improved local connections, and has the potential to open the way for tram-trains to be introduced in other parts of the UK.” 

Once completed, the tram-trains will run between Britain’s rail and tram network for the first time and will provide a direct service between Sheffield city centre, Rotherham Central railway station and Parkgate retail park.


Huguenot   27/11/2015 at 17:01

I'm not quite sure what the dotted red line in the picture represents! However, tram-train will prevent the Rotherham Central loop from ever being electrified at 25kV, even if the 'electric spine' eventually comes to fruition from Sheffield to Leeds/Doncaster.

Neil Palmer   27/11/2015 at 22:04

The red dotted line is the new chord under the M1, which allows use of the tram stop at Meadowhall South-Tinsley, then a connection back north onto the Rotherham line (which diverges just south of the Meadowhall South-Tinsley stop).

Duncan Stewart   29/11/2015 at 18:15

Apparently the new trams from Spain will be dual voltage - running on 25kV Ac on the main line. (Recent "Rail" magazine article).

Roger Capel, Sheffield   01/12/2015 at 14:56

Let's hope that there's some future-proofing here & that the OLE is at least INSULATED to 25kv.

John Gilbert   10/02/2016 at 18:04

Just look at that dotted outline of the new chord with its 90 degree bend. Had they moved this chord nearer Sheffield there would have been no need for that ridiculous bend, the link could have been almost straight - (with a platform for Meadowhall on the present freight line.) Typically pathetic and unimaginative!

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