THE FIRST tram-train in the country — which is part of a project to link Rotherham and Sheffield — has arrived in the borough.
Passengers in the town will be among the first in the UK to travel on the special vehicles which will run on existing railway lines and Sheffield’s tramlines.
The scheme is on track for completion in early 2017 after the first of the new vehicles arrived at Stagecoach Supertram’s Nunnery Square headquarters last week.
Andrew Jones, transport minister, said: “The unveiling of the UK’s first tram train is a major milestone and paves the way for an impressive new fleet of passenger vehicles to come into service from next year.
“This project will help transform travel in South Yorkshire with better journeys and improved connections.
“It will also boost the economy of the area.”
New platforms will be built at Rotherham Central station next autumn and three tram-trains are expected to run on the existing Sheffield Supertram network from next summer.
Stephen Edwards, executive director at South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), said: “Tram train is a first for the UK. The arrival of the first vehicle is an important milestone for the pilot scheme, to test whether the technology could be used elsewhere.
“Tram train complements South Yorkshire’s transport objectives of improved connectivity and regional growth and has the ability to transform transport networks both locally and nationally.”
SYPTE said three trams per hour will run from Sheffield Cathedral to Meadowhall South before travelling on a new section of track - called the Tinsley Chord - and onto the existing national rail network to Parkgate Shopping Park via Rotherham railway station.
The Tinsley Chord project - which was approved by the Department for Transport last week- will see Network Rail install 160m of new track and overhead lines near Meadowhall.
Andrew Penny, area director for Network Rail, said: “It’s good news for people in Sheffield and Rotherham that our application has been successful.
“Construction work can now get underway on this exciting project that will see the first tram train service in Britain.”
The tram trains will run for two years as part of a trial project and will be continually reviewed.
If successful, it will continue and could be installed in other parts of the country.