The first tram train in the UK has been unveiled in Sheffield.
Passengers in South Yorkshire will be the first to travel on the special vehicles, which will run between Sheffield and Rotherham – and the project is on track for early 2017.
Tram trains are trams which will also run along railway tracks. The vehicles will undergo a period of testing, before three are introduced on the Supertram network in summer 2016 to provide extra services at busy times.
Seven vehicles in total will then be put into service, linking the tram and train tracks.
Three services will run an hour, linking Sheffield, Meadowhall and Rotherham.
Transport Minister Andrew Jones, who unveiled the new tram train yesterday, said: “When the doors opened on the depot and this magnificent tram train emerged it was a special moment.
“This is a proper landmark in the project; this vehicle is here and there are a further six on the way and engineering works by Network Rail are also underway.
“It’s not far into the future now, but the key thing is it has been a bit of a bumpy ride but when you’re doing something for the first time in the UK we have to work out how to do something.
“There is no manual that you can pull off the shelf.”
He added that the new system would benefit the region due to greater connectivity, particularly in Rotherham where there has been no link with the tram network before.
The South Yorkshie tram train pilot will run for two years.
If successful, it is hoped that they will continue to run as a local service and stimulate similar schemes across the country.
Mr Jones said: “We’ve never had a system before where you can take a vehicle off the light rail system onto the heavy rail system. All the tram systems run locally and it’s up to local people to look at this and see what’s right for their area. But when they do that they will be supported by the Department.”