The Anonymous Widower

What Is Happening To The Sheffield-Rotherham Tram-Train?

The Sheffield-Rotherham Tram-Train is a pilot project to prove whether the technology can work on UK railways.

It’s a laudable aim, but I don’t like pilot projects as if they work, then you usually end up with an inadequately funded permanent one, that is lacking in certain areas and has to be upgraded. On the other hand, if they don’t work you have all the expense of ripping them out.

It is much better to take proven technology and phase the introduction of the system, funding and building every phase adequately.

This Google Earth map shows the area where the tram-train will run.

Sheffield Rotherham Tram Train

Sheffield Rotherham Tram Train

In the top right or north east corner of the image is the Rotherham Parkgate Retail Park, which will be the terminus of the route. In the bottom left hand corner is Meadowhall Shopping Centre, with the associated Interchange station, where the tram-train will join the Sheffield Supertram network. Tram-trains are proposed to run three times in an hour, which would be in saddition to the two or three trains per hour on the route.

This Google Map shows the layout of train tracks around Rotherham Central station.

Lines Through Rotherham

Lines Through Rotherham

Note the New York stadium marked on the map, but not shown, as the image was taken before the stadium was built. Just after the stadium, the lines split with one going west to join other lines and go direct to the Meadowhall Interchange and the other, which is now a freight route, going more south-west over the river towards Sheffield.

This Google Map shows the layout of the railway lines and the tram tracks around Meadowhall Interchange.

Meadowhall Tram-Train Connection

Meadowhall Tram-Train Connection

Meadowhall Shopping Centre itself, is just off the bottom of this map and is connected to the station by a bridge over bus, tram and train stations, which can just be seen in the bottom-left corner.

Note how the railway to the east from Sheffield goes under the M1 motorway, with the Sheffield Supertram coming up parallel to the motorway and then turning into the interchange.

It will be difficult to get this connection right, as a direct tram-train from Rotherham will come under the motorway and then stop in the Meadowhall Interchange station. I would assume that it would stop in the Sheffield Supertram platforms and then reverse direction to go on to Sheffield.

This must be wrong, as it would be a difficult scheme to run efficiently with three tram-trains an hour in each direction reversing in the tram platforms and then Rotherham-bound trams sometimes waiting there to cross the westbound rail line to get on the right track for Rotherham.

So I would assume the second route that breaks off to the south-west from Rotherham would be used. This Google Earth map shows where the line meets the Sheffield Supertram around Meadowhall South station.

Meadowhall South

Medowhall South

This would be a much easier connection and I think this is the way the tram-trains will go to and from Rotherham.

The Sheffield-Rotherham tram-train has been a long time coming since the decision to start. I wonder if the reason is that the engineering of both track and signalling has been much more difficult than first thought. The first direct route is difficult if not impossible operationally, but sorting out the tracks for the second route may not be too easy, as looking at the image there is a lot of water about, that might need to be bridged, by the tight turn.

I think too, that as it’s only a trial, we might see a single track curve, as the tram-trains will be reversing at Meadowhall Interchange. That would at least cut costs and men less disruption to the Supertram, whilst the connection is being made.

One issue that has to be thrown into the pudding, is the electrification for the trams, which is 750 volts DC overhead. If at some future date the planned electrification of the Midland Main Line and trans-Pennine routes at Sheffield is extended to Meadowhall and Doncaster, then the new station at Rotherham Central would possibly be electrified at 25kV AC.

So it could be that extending the tram-train pilot scheme between Sheffield and Rotherham into the future, might be scuppered by electrification plans for the North.

It does strike me that the £60million or so being spent on the tram-train pilot, might be better spent on providing extra trams for the Sheffield Supertram and trains for more services through Rotherham.

Could it be that just as the great and good in the Department for Transport, forced Cambridge to have a guided busway, they are persuading Sheffield and Rotherham to have a tram-train?

February 9, 2015 - Posted by | Travel | , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. […] you look at the proposal for the extension of the Sheffield Supertram to Rotherham using a tram-train, it has similarities to the system in […]

    Pingback by A Quick Exploration In Mulhouse « The Anonymous Widower | February 22, 2015 | Reply

  2. Trains stop at railway stations, and not “train stations”; unless you’re a five-year-old, of course.

    Comment by Brian Appleton | May 4, 2015 | Reply


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