Sheffield to Rotherham tram-train celebrates one million passenger journeys

More than a million passenger journeys have been completed on the Sheffield to Rotherham tram-train service, ahead of its first birthday.

Transport chiefs revealed the milestone was passed earlier this month and say the groundbreaking system has ‘exceeded expectations’ during its first year, despite a difficult start.

The service was originally due to launch in 2015 at a cost of around £15 million but did not get running until October 25 last year, with a final bill of some £75 million.

It was then involved in a crash on the first day of service, at the junction of Staniforth Road and Woodbourn Road, before another collision at the same spot the following month.

One of the tram-trains running between Sheffield and Rotherham

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But bosses say things have since settled down and they are pleased with how the UK’s first tram-train service, which travels on tramlines in Sheffield and the rail network in Rotherham, has performed.

Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis said: “We’re proud to be leading the way with light rail innovation, and are now seeing other towns and cities look to us, to use our technology as a blueprint for similar schemes across the UK.

“It’s great to see that more than a million people have used the tram-train over the last year. I look forward to seeing the system continue to thrive, as part of the programme of transport improvements that I’m rolling out to make our network fit for the 21st century.”

The pilot scheme was funded by the Department for Transport and involved a partnership between South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), Network Rail and Stagecoach Supertram, to test the connectivity and economic potential of the technology to see if it can be used elsewhere.

Proposals have already been announced to extend the tram-train service from Rotherham to Doncaster Sheffield Airport, add new stops at Magna Science Adventure Centre, and potentially introduce new tram-train routes to Chapeltown, High Green and Northern General Hospital in the north of Sheffield and Handsworth, Woodhouse and Beighton in the city’s south east.

Tim Bilby, managing director of Stagecoach Supertram, said: “Passenger numbers and customer satisfaction have exceeded expectations, proving that tram-train offers an affordable and efficient way to connect Sheffield city centre and Rotherham.

“We will continue to work with our project partners to further develop the tram-train service within the region.”

The introduction of tram-trains, which run three times an hour between Sheffield and Rotherham, required the rail network between the two cities to be electrified, new platforms to be built and a 160-metre section of track linked the tramway to the train line at Tinsley to be constructed, among other work.

Transport bosses say there has been a 100 per cent customer satisfaction rating since it started running.

Light rail minister Baroness Vere said the ‘pioneering project’ had given passengers ‘cleaner, more frequent and more reliable journeys’ across Sheffield and Rotherham.

SYPTE’s executive director, Stephen Edwards, called the first year of service ‘hugely successful’, adding that both customer satisfaction and passenger numbers were ‘exceeding expectations’.

Simon Coulthard, the senior sponsor for Network Rail, said it was ‘delighted’ to have played a part in introducing the ‘pioneering technology’.

“We look forward to working with our partners to deliver further improvements and providing even more benefits for passengers,” he added.