Department for Transport
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City running proposed for tram-train in South Yorkshire
Passengers in South Yorkshire could be the first in the UK to take a continental-style tram-train under plans announced today by the Department for Transport, Northern Rail, Network Rail and South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive.
Tram-trains are greener than conventional trains as they use less fuel, have faster acceleration and deceleration rates; which offer passengers better journey times. They are also are lighter which may reduce wear and tear on tracks cutting the need for disruptive maintenance works.
Passengers could see tram-trains running between Sheffield and Rotherham on the current freight route from Rotherham and then joining the Sheffield Supertram network at the Meadowhall Interchange.
The trial will assess the environmental benefits, operating costs and technical suitability of the tram-trains as well as testing how popular the vehicles are with passengers. These are the first steps in a process which could lead to more tram-trains operating throughout the UK.
Rail Minister Chris Mole MP announced the plans on a visit to Meadowhall – where tram-trains will connect to the Supertram network. He said:
"Tram-train is a new concept for Britain, but it has already proved a valuable addition to rail fleets on the continent. It provides seamless travel from rural and suburban areas direct into city centres, potentially cutting congestion and offering an alternative to short and medium distance car commuting.
"Adapting tram-train to the UK requires some testing, but while that is underway, people in South Yorkshire will have the chance to experience this new type of vehicle for themselves – and I hope they will tell us what they think of it.”
Northern Rail Managing Director Heidi Mottram said:
“We have learned a lot from the work we have done so far on the tram-trains project and it is now the right course of action to move to the Rotherham – Sheffield option. We believe that tram-trains have the potential to play a significant role in providing passengers with new journey opportunities directly into city centre streets.”
Richard Lungmuss, route director for Network Rail, added:
"We still firmly believe that the introduction of tram-train technology could bring real benefits to passengers. It is clear that an area where these benefits could be greatest is in easing congestion around our cities and we look forward to exploring the options to bring the best possible benefit to passengers in the South Yorkshire area."
South Yorkshire PTE Director General David Brown said:
“If we can overcome the technical challenges then tram-trains would bring huge benefits to the travelling public in South Yorkshire. They would widen the options available to those people travelling between
Rotherham and Sheffield and the technology could eventually be used elsewhere in the UK too.”
Northern Rail will procure the new vehicles for the Rotherham-Sheffield operation, while Network Rail is investigating what works would be necessary to safely accommodate the vehicles on the UK heavy rail network.
The project partners are still planning to test tram-trains on
the Penistone Line between Sheffield and Huddersfield via Barnsley
at a later date after work concluded that, electrically-powered
tram-trains are more economically viable for use in the UK than
the diesel equivalent which was being proposed for trial on the
Notes to Editors
1. A tram-train is designed to run on both urban light rail networks such as the Sheffield Supertram and conventional ‘heavy’ rail tracks. The partners are confident that tram-trains can operate safely on mainline rail and offer the significant advantage of being able to continue onto a tram network, providing passengers with a single mode of transport into city centres.
2. 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.
3. The tram-train trial in Sheffield will operate from the city centre to Meadowhall South on the Supertram network and then on to Rotherham on Network Rail infrastructure. The trial will consider technical aspects of the interface with existing rail and Supertram services.
4. The trial will be conducted by the Department for Transport in conjunction with Northern Rail, Network Rail and South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and Stagecoach plc – operators of the current Supertram network.
5. Re-phasing this project allows testing of the core tram-train concept – travel from heavy to light rail networks. It makes use of knowledge gained so far in the examination of the potential for diesel tram-trains on the Penistone Line. It allows time for developments in diesel engine technology to align with EU emission regulations and the wider market for diesel-electric tram-trains. And it avoids the presently unaffordable cost (in the view of the Department) of existing diesel-electric tram-trains.
6. Learning from work completed so far includes:
· track, signalling and station alteration costs to facilitate tram-train are slightly lower than anticipated;
· identification of the standards that will need to be changed to enable operation of tram-train vehicles on the heavy rail network; and
· progress on resolving issues around the wheel rail interface.
7. Chris Mole was at Meadowhall on the first day of his three day
rail tour of the North of England. He will be focussing
particularly on congestion and will travel on peak hour services,
as well as meeting key local and regional stakeholders. Over the
three days of his tour, Chris Mole will visit Leeds, Liverpool,
Manchester, Sheffield and York.
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