Light rail and trams


UK’s first ever ‘tram train’ launches in South Yorkshire

The UK’s first ever operational ‘tram train’ running between Sheffield and Rotherham has been launched today, with the scheme almost three years late and five times overbudget.

Jo Johnson and Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis launched the pilot project aiming to “launch our transport infrastructure into the twenty-first century,” with the tram-train service welcoming its first passengers this morning.

The service was due to be up and running over two years ago, and was heavily criticised after costs spiralled out of control, rising from £15m to £75m.

The scheme is due to run for two years whilst customer satisfaction, passenger numbers, reliability and costs are tested. If the trial is successful, this could be extended and the service rolled out elsewhere.

Jo Johnson said: “This has been a moment that’s been a long time coming.

“A lot of hard work has gone in to the project to get it to this stage today and this is a moment to celebrate and to see the start of passenger services because this technology has real potential – not just in South Yorkshire but across the country.”

The long-awaited tram-train will run three services between Sheffield Cathedral and Rotherham Parkgate via Rotherham Central Station, utilising both existing tram lines and railway lines.

The government-funded programme was approved in 2012 and is the result of a partnership between South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, Network Rail, Stagecoach Supertram and Northern Rail.

Speaking at the launch, Jarvis said the tram-train is a demonstration of intent and places South Yorkshire at the forefront of transport innovation in the UK.

He said: “I think the eyes of certainly many rail enthusiasts and many other local authorities and areas around the country will be on us today.

“This is an important signal of our determination to improve our traveling experience for our commuters, for our passengers, for our residents and our local businesses.”

Back in December last year, the Public Accounts Committee condemned the pilot as a ‘how not to’ seminar for future projects.

Up until today, it has been by hit by numerous delays, with the launch pushed back from 2015 to spring 2016, then to January 2017, before the final date of summer 2018 was set.

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