SOUTH Yorkshire’s £58 million tram-train pilot scheme between Sheffield and Rotherham is set to create 35 jobs - and could lead to similar schemes in other areas.
The project, which involves using Supertram tracks out of Sheffield city centre and train tracks in Rotherham, has been welcomed by many Star readers who called for extensions to Supertram - although some questioned the cost.
Announcing the scheme, transport minister Norman Baker said: “Providing better connections between Sheffield and Rotherham’s city centres and residential areas will help to reinvigorate the local economy.
“This is great news for passengers in South Yorkshire and potentially it could benefit people across the country wherever tram and rail networks exist together.”
Sheffield Hallam MP and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who lobbied for the scheme, saod: “This is great news for Sheffield and South Yorkshire, not just for passengers but businesses too.
“The Liberal Democrats are determined to boost businesses and create jobs in Sheffield, as well as making life easier for passengers and promoting clean, green technology.
Clive Betts, Labour MP for Sheffield South East, said: “I hope that in a short time we can roll it out on lines to other areas such as Stocksbridge and Beighton.”
And Rotherham MP Denis MacShane said: “For years I have been urging the Department of Transport and transport authority locally to link the centre of Rotherham with Retail World at Parkgate and onto Meadowhall by using existing rail track to create a stopping tram like the S-Bahn system in German cities.”
The new tram trains are due to enter service in 2015. Seven vehicles will be ordered, which will run up to every 20 minutes between Parkgate, Rotherham, Meadowhall and Sheffield.
It has not yet been decided whether Stagecoach Supertram or rail operator Northern will operate the service, but both firms have also welcomed its approval.
Commenting on The Star website, one reader said the scheme was a ‘good idea’ although they were concerned more shoppers could desert Sheffield city centre and head to Parkgate as well as Meadowhall.
Another called for Supertram extensions, too, saying ‘the tram definitely should go up to Broomhill and Ecclesall Road”.
However, another reader feared the tram-train trial could be a ‘white elephant’.
John Mothersole, Sheffield Council chief executive, said he would not rule out tram extensions in future if funding allows.