Sheffield's Supertram network celebrates 25th anniversary
1995 saw Sheffield Britpop heroes Pulp dominate the charts, Sheffield Wednesday play in the Premiership and the Leadmill open ‘til 6am for the first time. A lot may have changed since then but, 25 years on, Supertram remains a Sheffield institution, connecting people to places across the Steel City and beyond and playing a vital part in our public transport network.
Over the last 25 years Supertram has welcomed over 304 million passengers - enough people to fill both the Sheffield United and Wednesday grounds 4,500 times.
South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive’s (SYPTE) Director of Transport Operations, Pat Beijer, said: “The Supertram is iconic to Sheffield, an asset for the region, and has become so much more than a beloved mode of transport for many passengers.
"For over 25 years, it’s been a vital part of our integrated public transport network, and continues to contribute towards a greener future, with the potential to take hundreds of thousands of cars off the roads."
Travelling more than 62 million kilometres around Sheffield and, with the addition of Tram Trains in 2018, to and from Rotherham, the trams have taken on the equivalent distance of a trip to Mars.
The Supertram network is the only zero-emissions mass transit system in South Yorkshire and Pat said: “We’re proud of our Supertram because it’s a safe, reliable, and fully accessible mode of transport. The network provides clean, convenient and carbon-free connections across the city and, more recently, to Rotherham - helping to ease congestion and improve air quality. At a time when the region has declared a climate emergency, Supertram provides an invaluable solution."
Supertram construction started in 1991 and operation commenced on the 21 March 1994 between Sheffield City Centre and Meadowhall Interchange, serving the Lower Don Valley and the Meadowhall Shopping Centre. The system continued to open in stages until 23 October 1995 when the final stretches to Malin Bridge and Middlewood opened and Supertram’s full service commenced.
The UK’s watchdog for transport passengers and road users, Transport Focus’ survey (published June 2020) found that 96% of Supertram respondents were satisfied with their overall journey and, out of these, two thirds were very satisfied which Pat says demonstrates the importance of this system to local people.
She added: “Twenty-five years on and the tram is still contributing to the region’s economy and fulfilling its growing role in the regeneration of key areas of the Sheffield City Region.“South Yorkshire has always been at the forefront of rail innovation and with quarter of a century under the belt, Supertram has rightly earned a pride of place in that history.”
Sheffield’s history with trams dates back to the late 19th Century. Connecting the suburbs to the city centre, the tram was considered the ideal way to overcome the city’s steep hills.
In the 1980s and 1990s, SYPTE supported the development of a new light rail system, at the time the largest public transport structure project in England outside London, which fully opened on 23 October 1995.
Tim Bilby, Managing Director for Stagecoach Supertram, said: “We are proud to help millions of passengers get to work, go to school, colleges and universities and stay in touch with family and friends every day.“As we mark 25 successful years, we’d like to thank all of our customers and pay tribute to our staff for helping Supertram play such a crucial role in keeping our region connected.“Anniversaries are a great time to reflect but also to look forward. We are proud to be a trusted part of daily life for local people, and Supertram will continue to be central to the future of our economy, protecting our environment and keeping communities moving, as our region works towards recovery from Covid-19.”
Want more Sheffield retro? Jump on board with these archive tram pictures
What are your memories of the Supertram? Send them to [email protected]