The UK's first tram-train service is launched...

Thursday the 25th of October and at 09.39 tram-train number 399 203 departed Cathedral tram stop in Sheffield, for Rotherham's brand new purpose built Parkgate station for the UK's first tram-train pioneering scheme. At 10.09 a tram-train departed Rotherham going the other way towards Sheffield.

Seven class 399 tram-trains will run a three-an-hour service between the cities of Rotherham and Sheffield. 

Delayed from the original date of 2015 due to the technicalities of the differing train and tram wheel profiles and dual electrification problems. The vehicles will run on Sheffield’s Supertram network and on part of the adjoining national rail network, which has been adapted to allow seamless travel from one to the other all controlled from Network Rail's existing Woodburn signalbox which has had the signalling system updated.

Passengers are now able to travel from Parkgate Retail Park from Rotherham Parkgate station located next to Rotherham Central Station and on to Meadowhall (a major shopping centre just outside Sheffield). At Meadowhall, the tram-train will transfer onto the Supertram network, allowing direct access to the heart of Sheffield city centre. 

Network Rail has built a new link junction and points between the light rail and heavy rail lines near Meadowhall South. The rail line from Meadowhall South to Rotherham Central Station and Rotherham Parkgate is electrified with overhead lines at 750v DC, although for future expansion, the overhead lines are capable of carrying 25Kv. New platforms have also been built at Meadowhall South and at Rotherham Parkgate, and Rotherham Central Station’s platforms have been extended to facilitate the new service. Future station options will also be considered.

It is hoped that better connections between the two city centres, and their residential areas, will boost the local economy and encourage more people to leave their cars at home, thanks to the comfort and convenience offered by the tram-train.

Andrew Penny, area director for Network Rail, said: “This is an exciting stage of the project as we apply for permission to link the tram and rail network and turn years of meticulous planning into Britain’s first operational Tram Train service.”   

The pilot is a partnership between SYPTE (who will lead on delivery), the Department for Transport, Network Rail, Northern Rail and Stagecoach Supertram. Final approval for the contracts between project partners was granted by the Department for Transport in June 2013.

The pilot will demonstrate the potential, both locally and nationally, of tram-train technology.  If successful, it could pave the way for more schemes across the country. Indeed, Transport for Greater Manchester, Centro and Metro are all developing their own tram-train plans.

Pictured above and below is 399 203 during testing trials at Rotherham Central station.

Pictures courtesy of Chris Booth.

The poster distributed to staff and train operators stating that the overhead line went live on the 17th of April 2018.

On-board 399 203 leaving Rotherham Central station as 399 202 arrives during testing trials on the 14th of August 2018.

Picture Courtesy of Dave Long

The gallery above contains pictures of Woodburn signalbox's  former new panel showing the new connections for the tram-train. The signalbox was subsequently closed in 2021 and the tram-train is now controlled from York. 

My photo's taken 28th of December 2017.

It will be the first time a tram has ever been given a BR class number in the national railway 'TOPS' system.

For more information, click on these links below:


Pictured above is brand new points, number 305, which will bring the tram-trains off of the Supertram network and onto the national rail network close at the new Tinsley North Junction. 

This is my photo. I had the pleasure of giving them there first annual maintenance service on the 13th of April 2018 before they were brought into permanent use the next day for testing trials.

The existing Supertram route, and the new additional national rail route to Rotherham (top right).


How Network Rail broke the news on social media on the 25th of October 2018.