The Anonymous Widower

Does Sheffield Get The Public Transport It Needs?

I ask this question, as I spent a day in Sheffield yesterday, watching Ipswich play Sheffield Wednesday. These are some observations.

The London Sheffield Train Service

In the 1960s and before, Sheffield had a higher priority than it does now in the Government’s rail policy.

One of the flagship services was the Master Cutler going into Kings Cross.

I can remember this train with an iconic Class 55 locomotive on the front, speeding through Oakleigh Park station.

The service between London and Sheffield station isn’t bad, but to put it mildly, the First Class isn’t first class compared to say, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle.

Yesterday on my trips up and down, not as much as a cup of coffee was offered. Perhaps more importantly, tickets weren’t checked coming back to London. Wi-fi wasn’t working on the way up, but I didn’t check it, as I generally don’t use it, as logging in on some services generates spam.

The other big problem with all services out of St. Pancras, is that their are no late trains back to the capital, whichy must encourage people to drive.

Two developments should improve the service to London.

  • Electrification, which surely must see a time around two hours to London.
  • The new East Midland Franchise.

If the second has the same affect, as the new East Anglian Franchise did, we should see serious improvements.

Sheffield needs at least three trains-per-hour (tph) to and from London and the South. In my view this is the minimum frequency for a journey that could be two hours or under from London. Manchester and Norwich have or will have it, so why not all cities and major centres between these two sizes?

One of the problems of increasing the frequency from 2 tph or even lengthening trains, is my Aunt Sally or that Fur Coat And No Knickers Station of St. Pancras.

So something radical will have to be done by the new Franchise, as increasing services out of St. Pancras will need some clever train scheduling.

Sheffield’s Non-Standard Tram System

The Sheffield tram seems to work, but if they were being designed today, they would be very different, as would be the Manchester Metrolink.

  • The Siemens-Duewag Supertram are to a special design to cope with gradients.
  • The trams are only 40% low-floor.
  • The trams are long, to avoid running in multiple.
  • There is a lot more street running, than other systems.

This all means that expanding the system will be difficult and expensive.

On my trip yesterday, I encountered some problems.

  • The trams were very crowded.
  • There was a long delay because someone had parked on a double-yellow line blocking the tram tracks.
  • The frequency is not high enough.

Some problems would be solved in say Manchester and other tram systems in the UK, would be solved by just ordering more trams. I suspect that because of the non-standard nature of the system, and the obselete tram design, that this is not possible, at an affordable cost.

Sheffield’s solution is to add a new route to Rotherham using Class 399 tram-trains. They will also order some extra vehicles to improve frequencies on the existing network.

Progress has been slow to say the least, and I can’t help thinking that designers of CAF, who have produced the excellent Urbos 3 trams for Edinburgh and the Midland Metro, couldn’t have rearranged some of their solutions to provide extra trams to improve the current Sheffield network.

At some point the original trams will need to be replaced and the tram-train might provide a solution for this, but surely a 100% low-floor tram designed especially for Sheffield’s non-standard network, could be a more affordable solution.

Progress On The Tram-Train

I took a walk along the River Don and this must be the slowest railway project in the UK. That says something, considering we’ve got some real dogs out there.

Tram-train services to Rotherham are supposed to start in 2017.

There is still a lot to do.

Trams To Hillsborough Stadium

The Hillsborough Disaster happened on the fifteenth of April 1989 and the Sheffield Supertram opened on the 21st March 1994.

As one of the causes of the Hillsborough disaster was traffic problems on the M62 from Liverpool, surely you’d think that the design of the Supertram would have been arraqnged so that supporters could get to the stadium eaqsier.


But not a jot of it, as I suppose that the powers that be, decided that lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice.

This Google Map shows Hillsborough Stadium.

Hillsborough Stadium And The Supertram

Hillsborough Stadium And The Supertram

The Supertram has a stop at the top of Leppings Lane, which is ideal for the Visitors end.

The tram route runs on the North-South road at the West of the map.

This Google Map shows the area of the Leppings Lane tram stop.

Leppings Lane Tram Stop

Leppings Lane Tram Stop

It doesn’t seem to be the most difficult project to improve the access to the Supertram at this stop.

Given Sheffield Wednesday’s new owners, it is not inconceivable that the club ends up in the Premier League.

From my experience yesterdsy, the current arrangements would be difficult, so something creative needs to be done.

Getting between the station and Hillsborough is not easy, as a change of tram is needed.

Leppings Lane is only one stop from the end of the line at Middlewood. Surely, on match days, one simple solution would be to run trams direct to the station from Middlewood.

But the restricted number of trams probably makes this impossible.


Sheffield’s public transport network needs improvement.




November 6, 2016 - Posted by | Travel | , ,

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