The Anonymous Widower

Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – Renewal Of Supertram Network

Sheffield’s plan has renewal of the Supertram network as a short term priority.

The Sheffield Supertram is twenty-five years old and when you consider, many UK urban railway and tram systems of the same vintage have been substantially updated with new rolling stock and new routes.

The plan lists three things that must be done.

Network Rerailing

This has already been done over part of the network to allow the Class 399 tram-trains to operate on the Supertram network.

So I suspect that the rest of the network needs to be re-railed.

Certainly, the Class 399 tram-trains, which are cousins of the tram-trains working in Karlsruhe don’t seem to have had any serious problems, that have surfaced in the media.

New Vehicles

New trams are needed, mainly because the original trains are twenty-five years old.

But will these new trams, be trams or tram-trains?

That question has already been answered, as Sheffield uses some Class 399 tram-trains as capacity enhancers on some normal tram routes.

The Class 399 tram-trains that have been ordered for the South Wales Metro are being delivered with a battery capability.

So if Class 399 tram-trains or something similar, should they have a battery capability?

Undoubtedly, as Birmingham are showing, the ability to extend a route without wires is extremely useful amd cost-saving.

I also suspect that Cardiff, Karlsruhe and Sheffield will share similar vehicles, as the latter two cities do now.

The only differences are the German version runs on 15 KVAC as opposed to the UK’s 25 KVAC, some changed body panels, boarding heights, door number and position, colour schemes and couplers.

Sheffield and Cardiff will be using a standard European tram-train, adapted to our working practices and track standards.

Extending The Network

Suppose Sheffield choose as the tram replacement, a vehicle with the following characteristics.

  • Tram-train.
  • Able to use 25 VAC and 750 VDC overhead wires.
  • Able to use battery power.
  • Regeerative braking to battery.
  • Enhanced performance, as the original vehicles struggle on the hills, according to drivers to whom I’ve spoken. But the 399s are much better!
  • Extra capacity.
  • 75 mph operating speed

Sheffield would be able to develop several new routes.

I am particularly curious, as to whether a tram-train with a battery capability delivered in say 2025, will have the capability of handling a route like the Penistone Line.

It should be noted, that if Sheffield were Karlsruhe, there would be tram-trains to Doncaster, Doncaster-Sheffield Airport, Huddersfield, Retford and Worksop.

But the German city is at the centre of a network of electrified lines.


Sheffield will be the next city in the UK, after Cardiff, that will have a wide-spresad battery-electric tram-train network.

July 21, 2019 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , ,


  1. […] Renewal Of Supertram Network […]

    Pingback by Ambitious Transport Plans Unveiled For Sheffield Region « The Anonymous Widower | July 21, 2019 | Reply

  2. Oh dear trams and Sheffield. Yes their network and rolling stock are tired. Mismanagement has however resulted in this and ridership at the same level as 2000, having peaked a decade ago.

    Compare Manchester and Sheffield – former 4 lines, 50 stations and 32 vehicles; latter 7 lines, 93 stations and 120 vehicles with more on order.
    Manchester’s trams have all been replaced, an additional line is under construction, track maintenance is ongoing [today], ridership is still rising and is nearly four times that in Sheffield. Sheffield’s ticketing was a shambles, so now there are ‘conductors’ on board, Manchester went [albeit belatedly] contactless last week.

    Still poor as Supertram is, if you really want to know how NOT to run a railway then you need to visit Edinburgh and the money pit that passed for their tram “network” (actually an only part completed single line).

    Comment by R. Mark Clayton | July 21, 2019 | Reply

    • Manchester and Sheffield have a shared problem in that they were built before modern low-floor trams like those in Birmingham, Blackpool, Croydon, Edinburgh and Nottingham were available. Now, Manchester and Sheffield can embrace Stadler’s tram-train technology. I’ve ridden it in Sheffield, Valencia, Karlsruhe and Chemnitz and it works. Sheffield will end up with a system like Cardiff! I believe that the 399s can go as far as Huddersfield on battery power. In Manchester, they could swap tracks at Victoria and go as far as Hebden Bridge and Rawtenstall.
      As you say, Edinburgh is bad. But that should have been built without wires in the centre. My Edinburgh friends say that there were a lot of brown envelopes used in the construction.

      Comment by AnonW | July 21, 2019 | Reply

      • Given the amount of money squandered on the Edinburgh tram, brown manilla shipping containers more like!

        Comment by R. Mark Clayton | July 22, 2019

  3. […] It is also my belief, that Class 399 tram-trains would make excellent replacements for Sheffield’s current trams. I wrote about this in Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – Renewal Of Supertram Network. […]

    Pingback by Reopening The Don Valley Section Of The Former Woodhead Line Between Stocksbridge and Sheffield Victoria To Passenger Services « The Anonymous Widower | November 3, 2021 | Reply

  4. […] Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – Renewal Of Supertram Network […]

    Pingback by Six Operators Award Joint Contract For Up To 504 Tram-Trains « The Anonymous Widower | January 19, 2022 | Reply

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