The Anonymous Widower

Is The Sheffield Rotherham Tram-Train Showing Signs Of London Overground Syndrome?

I went to Sheffield today and took a ride on a Class 399 tram-train on the Sheffield Supertram, between Sheffield and the new Rotherham Parkgate tram stop.

These are my observations.

Class 399 Tram-Trains And The Siemens-Duewag Supertram

On this brief excursion, I took three rides in Class 399 tram-trains and two in the original Siemens-Duewag Supertrams.

The existing supertrams are twenty-three years old and it shows.

Not in the state of the supertrams, which is very good, but in the design.

  • As an example, the tram-trains have a much flatter floor, than the super trams.
  • Drivers have also told me that they have more power and can get up Sheffield’s hills with a full load, easier than the supertrams.
  • The tram-trains are also faster at 120 kph, as against to 80 kph for the supertrams.

I have seen reports, that Sheffield are thinking of replacing the supertrams with new rolling stock.

This is understandable, as the Sheffield supertrams must be the oldest light rail vehicles in the UK, without a plan to replace them with modern rolling stock.

Sheffield could do a lot worse, than replace the Siemens-Duewag trams with Class 399 tram-trains. Especially, as the South Wales Metro, will be buying thirty-six similar vehicles with batteries.

What would tram-trains with a battery capability do for Sheffield, Rotherham and the neighbouring towns?

After all geographically, South Yorkshire and South Wales aren’t that different with hills rising up from a flatter area.

Rotherham Central Tram Stop

This tram stop in a station is better than anything that I’ve seen in Germany, where tram-trains share platforms with ordinary trains.

The technique of a double-height platform, will be used in Karlsruhe to allow their versions of the Class 399 tram-trains to share platforms with their older tram-trains in the Karlsruhe tunnel, if it is ever finished.

The attention to detail at Rotherham Central station might go some way to explain the cost and time overrun on the project, but now there is a working example for other tram-train schemes to copy.

  • The platform to tram-train access is absolutely level.
  • There is a gentle slope, when changing between tram-trains and trains.
  • There is a barrier to stop passengers walking across.

The only thing needed is an entrance directly to the Sheffield-bound platform, so that passengers walking along the river and from the football can get directly to the tram-train platform.

Rotherham Parkgate Tram-Train Stop

This tram-train stop follows the best practice of single platform stanations and tram-stops everywhere.

  • The platform to tram-train access is absolutely level.
  • There is a zebra crossing and a gentle ramp to get to the path to the shopping.
  • There is a shelter and a few seats.

If it gets busier, it may need a few extra facilities.

Information

Information at stops and stations will need to be improved and some of the displays didn’t seem to be fully working.

There was also a lack of signage in Rotherham Parkgate, as to where the tram-train stop is located.

All of this will improve with time!

Ridership

What surprised me was that for a Tuesday morning, the tram-trains were busy with passengers going all the way between Sheffield and Rotherham Parkgate. The tram-trains were perhaps half-full.

But then several said to me, that they preferred Rotherham Parkgate to Meadowhall for shopping.

There also seemed to be a lot of older passengers with free passes.

In my view, it won’t be long before the route requires a service of four tram-trains per hour.

This would require an extra tram-train for the Cathedral to Rotherham Parkgate service.

Currently, about six-seven trains per hour go through Rotherham Central station in each direction, so squeezing in an extra train probably wouldn’t be a major job for the signalling.

Conclusion

I think it is a job well done, that has been well worth the wait.

I do have this feeling that the signs are already there for a break-out of London Overground Syndrome.

In the Supertram’s case, it could be cured by the purchase of an extra Class 399 tram-train.

October 30, 2018 - Posted by | Travel | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] asked this question in a slightly different form in Is The Sheffield Rotherham Tram-Train Showing Signs Of London Overground Syndrome?, where I said […]

    Pingback by What Would Tram-Trains With A Battery Capability Do For The Sheffield Spertram? « The Anonymous Widower | October 31, 2018 | Reply


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