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National Audit Office to investigate UK tram-train pilot

Stadler Citylink tram-trains 399204 and 399202 at Nunnery depot in January 2017. (Image credit: Mike Haddon)

On 24 March the UK’s National Audit Office announced an investigation into the delayed Sheffield – Rotherham tram-train scheme.

The current pilot project was moved from an initial proposal to develop a tram-train service on the Sheffield – Huddersfield ‘Penistone Line’ in 2009 to trial the technology in the UK. The pilot is being delivered by Network Rail and the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive in partnership with the Department for Transport, tramway operator Stagecoach Supertram and train operator Northern Rail.

The project has faced a number of delays and the National Audit Office report will look at management and delivery and the Department for Transport’s sponsorship of the scheme. The independent Parliamentary body’s investigation will focus on:

  • The history of the scheme, changes to the delivery schedule and cost estimates
  • The various points at which the Department for Transport decided to continue funding the scheme and its rationale for doing so
  • The factors that have led to delays and cost increases, as identified by reviews conducted or commissioned by the Department of Transport.

The planned tram-train implementation will create a direct link between the 29km (18-mile) Supertram network, that opened in 1994-95, and the heavy rail line to neighbouring Rotherham. Once open, passengers will be able to take one service from central Sheffield via a new Meadowhall link over around 2.5km (1.5 miles) of Network Rail line to Rotherham Central, then a further 1.6km (one-mile) to Parkgate.

The estimated scheme cost is GBP60m (EUR73m) and includes the purchase of seven dual-voltage Stadler Citylink LRVs; the latest completion date has been given as summer 2018.