THE first tram-train service in the UK has been given the go-ahead by transport minister Norman Baker.
The service, costing around £60 million, will run from early 2016 between Rotherham Parkgate and Sheffield city centre, using both the existing tramway and the national rail network.
Three new tram-trains are being built by Vossloh. They are dual voltage, which the DfT said makes them 'future proofed to cater for any subsequent electrification of the Midland Main Line by being capable of operating at both light and heavy rail operating voltage'.
Network Rail will build a new junction between the light rail and heavy rail lines near Meadowhall South.
The heavy rail line from Meadowhall South to Rotherham Central and Rotherham Parkgate will be electrified. New platforms will also be built at Meadowhall South and at Rotherham Parkgate, and Rotherham Central’s platforms will be extended to accommodate the new service. The DfT added that 'future station options will also be considered'.
Norman Baker said: “Providing better connections between the heart of Sheffield and Rotherham’s city centres and residential areas will help to reinvigorate the local economy. It will also encourage people to leave their cars at home.
“Tram-Trains are an innovative and high-capacity transport system which have proved very successful in other European cities.
“We will be monitoring the scheme over the course of the next two years and I look forward to seeing if it would be appropriate to replicate it elsewhere in the UK.”
Cllr Mick Jameson, who chairs the South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority, said: “Today’s signing is further welcome investment by Government in the transport infrastructure of South Yorkshire. The project will provide important enhanced local connectivity and demonstrate the potential, both locally and nationally, of this new technology to deliver value for money services. We are excited to be a project partner in this ground breaking project."