THE long-awaited launch of Britain’s first tram-train service finally took place on October 25, when No. 399204 carried the first passengers as the 09.39 Sheffield Cathedral to Rotherham Parkgate. But the day was marred just a few hours later when this same unit was involved in a crash with a lorry, bringing a halt to services.
The project has been a long time coming, being first announced in 2008 as one running from Sheffield to Huddersfield via Penistone. This idea was later scaled back to run to Rotherham only, but still managed to come in late and over budget.
The importance of the two-year trial remains undiminished, however, as other cities around the country – such as Manchester and Bristol – await the results to see if the technology can be applied to their local lines.
Class 399s use the Supertram network from Sheffield to Meadowhall South, then travel over a newly-built chord to run on Network Rail lines through Rotherham Central to a new terminus at the Parkgate retail centre.
The timetable sees three services per hour in each direction, although due to conflicts on the NR section, they are not quite at even 20 minute intervals. The end-to-end journey time is 27 minutes and tickets can be bought from on board conductors.
Read more in the December issue of Rail Express, on sale now.