Hope for £100m to fund buses, roads and new Supertram routes

Trams on Sheffield's High Street
Trams on Sheffield's High Street
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PROGRESS is being made on £100 million of transport schemes in Sheffield despite previous knockbacks to bids for Government funding.

Sheffield Council and South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive revealed work is continuing on £72m North and South Bus Rapid Transit Schemes between Sheffield and Rotherham, a bid for £19m to build new Supertrams and £13m improvements to Penistone Road. And progress is expected on plans to trial new tram-trains between Sheffield and Parkgate, Rotherham.

Up to £2m has been spent on feasibility work for the bus rapid transit schemes.

The projects were hit by a review of transport budgets in the autumn – apart from tram trains, to be funded from a separate Government source.

The scheme closest to approval is the bid for four extra trams, which requires further work to justify investment but could be approved by Whitehall in the autumn.

Peter Elliott, of SYPTE, said: “We’ve submitted a further application and are looking at how we can bring down the price of the vehicles to make approval more likely.”

Government cash is being sought because operator Stagecoach’s franchise ends in 2024 – a period the company says is not long enough to justify investing in more trams.

Meanwhile, savings of £4m have been found from the cost of the northern bus rapid transit route, between Sheffield and Rotherham via Meadowhall, which the Government said still required further viability assessment.

It is now likely to cost £36m and further savings are unlikely due to the scheme’s main aspect – a £20m bus-only bypass of the M1 junction 34, beneath Tinsley viaduct.

A planning application for the junction 34 bypass is to be made in April and a new funding application to the Government later in the year.

A bid for £36m for the south route, via Waverley, is to be made to the £1.5 billion Regional Growth Fund, after being rejected for Department for Transport funding.

Plans for bus priority measures and removal of bottlenecks on the A61 Penistone Road are in the same stage as the north bus rapid transit route – with the Government requiring further savings.

Tram-train proposals are recognised as of “national importance”, according to SYPTE, as such a scheme could work in other areas.

Mr Still said: “We’re hoping to have a decision in the spring about whether funding is available to progress to the next stage – developing detailed plans.”

Buying vehicles and construction work would follow a year later.

But work on developing a park and ride for the Meadowhead area is still at an early stage – despite previous plans to open one by 2011.

A site has not been found but the council is looking at Norton Aerodrome with a link to Supertram Herdings Park spur as a preferred option.