Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Sheffield to Rotherham tram-train pilot delayed further

Image caption The tram-trains will run on existing tracks between Sheffield and Rotherham and are expected to cut journey times

The UK's first tram-train scheme, linking parts of South Yorkshire, has been delayed again.

The £58m pilot project will enable trams to run on existing train tracks between Sheffield, Meadowhall and Rotherham.

It was due to start in 2015 but was delayed until 2017.

Network Rail has now said the 2017 date is not possible and a "thorough review" is needed before a new launch date is announced.

South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive said it was "extremely disappointed".

"We have been notified that Network Rail can no longer complete the Tram Train infrastructure works to timetable, for passenger services to start in early 2017 as planned," a spokesman said.

"We acknowledge that the design, planning and construction to allow the vehicles to run on the heavy rail network is complex. However, we are extremely disappointed in this news.

"All parties remain committed to the delivery of the project and to starting Tram Train services at the earliest possible time."

Network Rail, which is due to lay more track, said a new date could be expected in the summer.

Image caption Andrew Denniff, chief executive of Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce, said the further delay was "frustrating and disappointing"

"The pilot is a first for Britain's rail network and as such involves a number of bespoke designs that will allow Tram Trains to operate over the rail network.

"The project team is carrying out a thorough review of the programme and will report back to stakeholders by the summer.

"This will allow us to work together to deliver a robust plan and we will publicise this widely once it is agreed."

Andrew Denniff, chief executive of Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce, said: "The chamber has been lobbying for a long time to get the extension to the tram system out of Sheffield into South Yorkshire.

"Another delay is frustrating and disappointing."

The first vehicle was delivered to Sheffield in November.

Image caption The tram-train will join up with the existing Supertram network. They are said to be lighter and more energy-efficient than conventional trains

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