Sheffield to Rotherham tram-train researchers win national award

Researchers behind the UK’s first-ever tram-train which is now running between Sheffield and Rotherham have won a national award.

Staff from the Institute of Railway Research at the University of Huddersfield designed a dual-operation wheel profile to enable the trams to run on  both the exisiting Supertram network and mainline rail track.

The scene of the crash. Picture and video: Sam Cooper / The Star.

The scene of the crash. Picture and video: Sam Cooper / The Star.

David Crosbee and Professor Paul Allen worked with Network Rail. South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), Stagecoach Supertram and Northern Rail on designing a dual-operation wheel.

READ MORE: No arrests after Sheffield to Rotherham tram-train crashes on first day of service

And, as the £75 million project launched on Thursday, their research won an award from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

In the article, the IRR researchers explained how they had developed a dual-operation wheel profile that has now been commissioned and fitted to the tram-trains that will run on the Sheffield Supertram system and then – via a specially-created junction named the Tinsley Chord – continue on Network Rail tracks to Parkgate via Rotherham.

READ MORE: Sheffield tram-train derails after collision with lorry causing major travel disruption

The article said: “This work has shown that it is possible to design an effective dual-operating wheel profile, even when the rail profile shapes encountered on the light and heavy rail sections of the route are very different.

“Through an iterative process of stepwise refinement and assessment, the wheel profile tread geometry has been developed to provide a level of performance in terms of contact conditions, rail wear and vehicle behaviour that was similar or better than the current SST and Network Rail profiles.  This ensures that the new tram-train profile will not have any significant impact on the asset life of the two infrastructures.”

READ MORE: Passengers describe horrific moment Sheffield tram-train collides with lorry

Mr Crosbee and Prof Allen said they would continue to work with Network Rail and Stagecoach Supertram during the two-year pilot scheme.

The tram-train scheme launched on Thursday - almost three years later than planned and at more than five times the cost.

One of the vehicles was then involved in a crash with a lorry later that day. An investigation remains ongoing.