FURTHER doubt has been cast over the long-awaited tram-train project through Rotherham after it emerged the would-be operator could pull out.
South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) said it was working towards the assumption the £58 million project being operational in the summer of next year - three years later than planned.
But a report to a meeting of the transport committee of Sheffield City Region Combined Authority said contracts signed in 2012 included a “long stop date” of September 15, which allows any partner to walk away if the service is not in operation.
Stagecoach Supertram was reviewing its commercial operating contract with SYPTE and the Department for Transport, the report said.
But Stagecoach and SYPTE both said they remained committed to the scheme and work was continuing.
The report said the long stop state would “clearly not be achieved” - opening the possibility of any partner terminating their involvement.
SYPTE now has all seven of the new vehicles and testing and driver training is under way.
Negotiations are also taking place between Parkgate Shopping owners and SYPTE about installing a footpath link, tram-stop and park and ride facility.
Bramley Parish Council clerk Rob Foulds said: “If there is a serious doubt that it’s not going to happen, who is going to be responsible for the costs incurred by the public sector for pursuing what appears to be a doomed project?”
A spokesman for Stagecoach said its plans remained “on track” and it was in talks with the DfT.
SYPTE’s principal solicitor and secretary to the executive, Steve Davenport, said all parties remained committed to the scheme, adding that long stop dates were common in large capital projects.
He said there was now “excellent progress in scheme delivery” and a revised date for the launch would be agreed, dismissing the pull-out option as a “legal technicality”.