Train-tram pilot gets a major funding injection

A TRAM-TRAIN pilot project linking Parkgate to Sheffield has moved a step closer with cash set aside by Network Rail to move the project forward.

The operator has committed £13 million to the South Yorkshire Tram-Trains scheme, as it outlines future investments to the regional rail network.

The tram-train scheme that attracted £58 million in Government backing last year, will be a trailblazing project.

Three trams an hour are expected to run from Sheffield city centre through the redeveloped Rotherham Central station and on to Parkgate’s retail park.

The pilot will run for two years from 2015 and if successful, it may then be taken up by other cities such as Manchester.

A spokesman for Network Rail said the contract award for the tram-trains, that is led by the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, is the next stage in the project, as the final touches are made to the design of the required infrastructure.

She said: “The fine detail of the project is still under discussion but construction work is expected to begin in spring of next year.”

Traders at Parkgate and Rotherham supported the scheme but with reservations, when it was announced last year.

The manager of Parkgate shopping centre, Denis Copeland, said it was hoped new people would visit and use the centre by tram-train and leave their cars at home, but on the downside he voiced traders’ fears that Parkgate could instead become a ‘park and ride’ facility for Sheffield or Meadowhall.

For commuters from Parkgate and Rotherham to Sheffield, the tram-trains could be a huge bonus, saving money and travel time.

There is also a chance that the scheme could be rolled out to Doncaster.

Network Rail plans to spend around £37.5 billion on the national railway infrastructure by 2019. A line electrification programme is set to transform travel across Doncaster, Rotherham and the Dearne.