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2008-03-18 DfT-001
Department for Transport


Innovative 'tram-trains' to be trialled in Yorkshire

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Department for Transport

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Department for Transport

Innovative 'tram-trains' to be trialled in Yorkshire

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18 Mar 2008 10:25
source Department for Transport
type Press release

note DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT News Release (052) issued by The Government News Network on 18 March 2008

An innovative form of public transport called a 'tram-train' is to be trialled for the first time in the UK on a growing railway route in Yorkshire.

Five new tram-trains, which can run on both railway tracks and tram lines, will replace conventional trains currently used on the 37-mile Penistone Line between Huddersfield, Barnsley and Sheffield. Tram-trains are lighter and greener than conventional trains. They use less fuel and weigh less which reduces wear and tear on tracks therefore decreasing the need for disruptive maintenance works. Tram-trains have faster acceleration and deceleration rates so they can also offer passengers better journey times.

The trial, which starts in 2010 and will take two years, will look at the environmental benefits, operating costs and technical suitability of the tram-trains as well as testing how popular the vehicles are with passengers on the route. There is also an option for a second phase which would test the vehicles on the Sheffield Supertram system to see what additional benefits the vehicles can deliver when extended onto city centre tram lines.

The project is a partnership between the Department for Transport, the train operator Northern Rail and rail infrastructure owner Network Rail and seeks to establish whether tram-trains similar to those operating successfully in Europe are suitable for Britain's railway network.
Northern Rail, which is owned by Serco-Ned Railways, will run a competition for manufacturers to build the tram-trains, which Northern will lease, and Network Rail will spend £15m in track improvements and alterations to stations as part of the trial, significant funding in the route. DfT will contribute £9m to fund the operation of the trial and Northern will bring experience from Europe through Ned Railways who operate tram-trains in The Netherlands.

Transport Secretary, Ruth Kelly, said:

"Tram-trains will bring quicker journeys and offer a greener travel option for passengers in Yorkshire.

"This trial, the first in Britain, could herald the start of a new era in public transport. Passenger feedback is a vital ingredient in determining the success of the trial and I look forward to hearing what the people of Yorkshire think about the comfort and reliability of tram-trains."
Heidi Mottram, Managing Director, Northern Rail, said:

"We are very excited to be involved in testing this new form of public transport, which will mean higher levels of comfort and a faster journey for our customers on the Penistone Line.

"This is a great opportunity for us to develop our network and attract more people to use public transport in this part of Yorkshire."
Iain Coucher, Chief Executive, Network Rail, said:

"This trial gives us a fantastic opportunity to see whether the types of technologies used in Europe can be adapted for use on our systems. We expect the lighter vehicles will result in less wear on the infrastructure - extending its lifespan, improve journey times and give the option of running future commuter services closer into city centres.

"We want to use the trial to get evidence about the practicalities of the tram-trains and assess how beneficial they will be to the UK.

"The partnership between Network Rail, the DfT and Northern Rail ensures that the needs of passengers, operators, the infrastructure operator and the local and wider community are all represented."

The Penistone Line, one of the most successful Community Rail Partnerships, has been chosen for the trial because it offers the chance to test the tram-trains on a route that in part is for passenger trains only and in part for passenger and freight trains. A possible phase two of the trial will offer the potential for testing the tram-trains on the Sheffield Supertram.

Notes to Editors

1. The Penistone Line is 37 miles long, has 17 stations and is used by 1.2 million passengers every year

2. Northern operates one service per hour in each direction on the route

3. Passenger Focus will lead on undertaking research into passenger perception of tram train.

Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300
Department for Transport Website:

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