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Sheffield — Rotherham tram train announced

In a surprise announcement the Rail Minister Chris Mole, on a visit to Meadowhall in Sheffield, gave details of Phase Two of the tram train trial which is being brought forward due to delays in Phase One. Under the new plan trams will operate between Sheffield and Rotherham using the city system to Meadowhall South then joining the freight line to Rotherham which, it is understood, will be electrified at 700v DC. This will permit the use of single mode operation which will reduce vehicle cost. Once a feasibility study has been completed, the project is expected to take three years and cost GDP24m to bring to fruition. Train operator Northern Rail will buy the five new vehicles for the Rotherham–Sheffield operation.

The scheme replaces a previously–announced Phase One tram–train trial on the Penistone Line, linking Sheffield and Huddersfield via Barnsley, which would have used diesel-powered vehicles. This has been held up due to the requirement to use Euro3b standard diesel engines which are not currently available. It is expected that Phase One may go ahead at a later date.

16 September 2009

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