Campaigners have made fresh calls for an extension of Sheffield’s tram network through the Sheaf Valley to be pushed higher up the transport agenda – saying action is urgently needed to get the city moving.
The country’s first tram-train arrived at the Nunnery Square depot in Sheffield this week, the first of seven vehicles which will start running between the city centre and Rotherham by 2017 as part of a trial.
There has long been an aspiration to extend the Supertram route to Dore and Totley, and last year a report was published by South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive which proposed running tram-trains – which can operate on both the tram and rail network – through the Abbeydale Road corridor, as well as up Ecclesall Road and around Fulwood.
This would allow passengers to connect with a High Speed Rail link at Meadowhall, and funding has been promised by the Government. But city leaders are strengthening their case for an HS2 stop at the old Victoria station site above the Wicker, claiming it would be better for the economy and that the estimated cost would be £680 million more expensive than the out-of-town option, less then previously thought.
However, John Brighton, who is helping to lead a voluntary campaign group based in Millhouses, said a tram extension through the Sheaf Valley could not wait until the arrival of HS2 in the 2030s.
“It needs it within the next decade,” he said.
“If we want to get the city working we have to get the transport working, because traffic is choking our city. We have got to use trams to unlock our economic potential.
“If, like Nottingham, we raised private finance, you could have a tram up to Dore within 10 years.”
He added: “I don’t believe the focus in Sheffield is on such places as the Sheaf Valley, Ecclesall Road and Woodseats, where traffic is not able to move. Here in Millhouses it can take an hour to get home or into town, even on a good day. We’ve got to get out of cars and on to trams. Buses don’t work.”
The campaigners say redundant track beds could be used for trams. Tram-trains using existing railway lines have ‘always been an option’, said Mr Brighton - but capacity would need to found on the route to Dore.
“The line through Millhouses is very busy,” he added.
A spokeswoman for SYPTE said tram-trains could be used more widely if more money is found.
“The Tram Train pilot is being held between Sheffield and Rotherham to see if the technology can be used elsewhere. Tram Train will carry on as a local service if it is successful, and more stops introduced or the service extended if this can be funded.”
The transport body added that its Sheffield City Region High Speed 2 Connectivity Study Report, published with engineering consultants Arup last February, outlined proposals to extend tram-trains through the Sheaf Valley to Dore.
“The report identifies, at a strategic level, how the transport network could be expanded and optimised to provide connections with the proposed HS2 station at Sheffield Meadowhall.”