Go-ahead for tram plan

A MULTI-million pound tram-train system which will provided a link between Rotherham and Sheffield has been given the go-ahead.

Transport Minister Norman Baker has given the green light to a £58million pound pilot scheme which will link existing rail tracks with Sheffield Supertram network.

The scheme will create 35 new jobs locally as well as providing a boost to the region’s economy.

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Three services and hour will link the Parkgate Shopping centre with Sheffield city centre in just 25 minutes, travelling through Rotherham Central Stations and joining the Supertram network at Meadowhall.

Announcing the scheme, Mr Baker said: “Providing better connections between Sheffield and Rotherham’s city centres and residential areas will help to reinvigorate the local economy.”

“It will also encourage people to leave their cars at home, making this pilot environmentally friendly.”

“This is great news for passengers in South Yorkshire and potentially it could benefit people across the country wherever tram and rail networks exist together.”

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“Tram Trains have already proven hugely popular on the Continent. Now we will be able to test whether they can bridge the gap between tram and train networks in this country.”

Andrew Denniff, executive director at the Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce welcomed the news and moved to dispel fears that the service could see Rotherham traders losing out.

He said: “The argument against it is that it will drag trade out of Rotherham and into Meadowhall and Sheffield, but I disagree entirely. The tracks run both ways.”

“This is a great opportunity to get more people into Rotherham town centre and make use of the new Rotherham Central station.”

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As part of the major works being undertaken to make the project a reality includes the electrification of a stretch of track between Sheffield and Rotherham and the construction of 400 metre line linking the tramway to the train tracks.

The new tram trains are due to enter service in 2015. If the pilot is successful, it opens the way for Tram Trains to be introduced in other parts of the country.

David Brown, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive director general, said: “It is further welcome investment by government in the transport infrastructure of South Yorkshire. The project will provide important enhanced local connectivity and demonstrate the potential, both locally and nationally, of this new technology to deliver value for money services.”