THE UK’s first Tram Train was today (Thursday 25 October) launched at the newly opened Rotherham Parkgate Tram Train stop.
Project partners from Stagecoach Supertram, Network Rail, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and the Department for Transport were joined by representatives from local authorities and businesses for the unveiling of a commemorative nameplate by Jo Johnson MP Minister for Rail and the Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, Dan Jarvis.
Passengers in South Yorkshire are the first in the country to benefit from the innovative Tram Train pilot, which entered public service at 09.39 at Sheffield Cathedral. The special tram-type vehicles use pioneering technology to run on both Sheffield’s tramlines and the rail network to Rotherham.
Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said: “Today’s launch of the Tram Train is great news for South Yorkshire – but also an important milestone for the UK. This pioneering technology is the first of its kind in the country and, if successful, could be rolled out elsewhere. We’re leading the way.
“It’s good to see schemes such as this transforming our transport network, which has suffered from years of underinvestment. For our economy to grow, and to ensure prosperity for all, we need to have an affordable and well-integrated public transport system that enables people to get to places of work, study and leisure quickly and easily.
“This the first step in transforming our region’s transport system and making it fit for the 21st century.”
Jo Johnson, Rail Minister said: “The first tram-train journey is a milestone moment that will give commuters cleaner, more frequent and more reliable journeys across Sheffield and Rotherham.
“This pioneering project brings together innovation, state-of-the-art technology and our existing infrastructure to give passengers better journeys. It lays the groundwork for ambitious transport schemes right across the country that should give commuters more choice .”
Rob McIntosh, Route Managing Director at Network Rail whose responsibility it was to work with the regulator and operators to design and build the new infrastructure said: ““I’d like to thank the people of Sheffield and Rotherham for their patience while we developed, built and tested Tram Train. The project has been a complex one and it is genuinely exciting to be ready to welcome the first passengers on board. Tram Train will bring new choices for travellers in this area, supporting jobs and the local economy. It’s also important to us at Network Rail as the national infrastructure provider, as it gives us different options when we are looking to improve connections between communities across Britain.”
Stagecoach Supertram has trained 27 existing tram drivers to become tram train drivers across the route. By providing three services per hour in each direction, it is expected that the new addition to the Supertram network will give people a convenient travel option into and between Rotherham and Sheffield, and enhance the local economy.
Managing Director, Tim Bilby said: We’re so very proud and excited that Supertram and South Yorkshire have been chosen to pilot this state of the art technology and we’re delighted to be able to invite our first passengers on board today. We know that our passengers are as excited as we are about this launch and we can’t wait to hear what they think about it.
“This Tram Train service offers a quick, environmentally friendly and good value alternative for this busy commuting route, and also opens up leisure and retail venues to people across the wider City Region.“
SYPTE Executive Director, Stephen Edwards, added: “It’s been a real partnership effort to put the pioneering technology for Tram Train in place. We’re delighted to be piloting the scheme as a new travel option on our local transport network and beyond. Tram Train services will provide reliable journey times and more connections for passengers in Rotherham and Sheffield, offering an alternative to the car for a greener City Region.”
Rotherham Council’s Cabinet Member for Jobs and the Local Economy, Cllr Denise Lelliott, said: “Today is a very important milestone and it is incredibly exciting to be travelling on this cutting-edge innovative tram vehicle, for the first time to Rotherham town centre and Parkgate.
“Connecting Sheffield and Rotherham in this way will bring big economic benefits to people across the whole area and we look forward to seeing the residents of Sheffield and Rotherham using it in the future.”
Councillor Jack Scott, cabinet member for transport and development at SCC said: “Supertram is absolutely central to our vision for efficient, reliable, clean and affordable travel, so this extension is a huge leap forward. The Tram-Train will strengthen our shared economy and make a real difference to journey times and air quality.
“This is such great news for Rotherham and Sheffield. It’s been a long time coming, and I am delighted to see these stronger connections across South Yorkshire.
“This is the first time we have extended the Tram network and it proves we have confidence in our tram, our city and our county.”
Northern Powerhouse Minister, Jake Berry MP, said: “This is a proud moment for the Northern Powerhouse. Cutting-edge railway technology has been central to the North’s history and this innovative tram-train service shows it’s firmly part of its future too. Tram Trains promise to provide passengers with efficient and greener journeys in and between Rotherham and Sheffield.”
Three Tram Trains an hour will travel in each direction, linking Sheffield Cathedral and Meadowhall South on the existing Supertram Network, before proceeding over the new section of track called the Tinsley Chord and continuing on the national rail network to Parkgate Retail Centre via Rotherham Central station.
South Yorkshire’s Tram Train pilot will run for two years while customer satisfaction, passenger numbers, reliability and costs are tested. Tram Train will then continue to run as part of the Supertram system.
For more information visit www.supertram.com