The controversial and much delayed British tram-train pilot scheme has taken two major steps forward, with the granting of the Transport and Works Act Order in mid-November and the imminent arrival in the UK of the first Vossloh tram-train from Spain (RAIL 788).
Under the tram-train pilot scheme the new vehicles will operate along the Sheffield Supertram network from the Cathedral stop in the city centre towards Meadowhall, where a 400-metre, £1.8 million chord is to be constructed linking that line with the freight line through to Rotherham Central station. Tram-trains will terminate at a new stop to be built at Parkgate shopping centre.
It is an approximately 160m section of this Tinsley Chord that was the subject of the TWAO application (RAIL 772). Network Rail made the application on March 13 2015, and it has been granted in the short timespan of just eight months as there was only one objector (National Grid Electricity Transmission plc, over whose land the chord passes). That objection was withdrawn following discussions, so no Public Inquiry was required. The Order includes deemed planning permission.
Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin’s letter approving the application with very minor changes is dated November 12. It was published a few days later, but further objections can still be raised within the following 42 days.
Construction of the chord, which includes 25kV overhead electrification through to Parkgate (so the tram-trains are dual-voltage), is due to start next spring, and the two-year trial should be under way early in 2017.
Assuming it is successful, the tram-trains will then continue to operate as a normal public service. Other UK local authorities are then expected to speedily push for tram-trains to run in their areas.
- For more on this, and in-depth feature looking at the scheme, read RAIL 789, published on December 9.