UK: Vossloh has been selected as ‘lead bidder’ for the supply of rolling stock for the Sheffield - Rotherham tram-train pilot project, Transport Minister Norman Baker told an event organised by the All Party Parliamentary Light Rail Group on July 12.

The business case is still being developed to ensure best value for money, but the Department for Transport is supportive and train operator Northern Rail, which is procuring the vehicles on behalf of DfT, anticipates that services will begin in 2014.

The project includes a connection between Sheffield’s Supertram network and a Network Rail freight line which will be electrified at 750 V DC. There will be an initial 20 min headway service to Parkgate in Rotherham, where the tram stop will be integrated with a brown field development.

Interspersing freight and tram-train services is seen as an essential part of the pilot scheme, which Baker said provides ‘a good microcosm of what is needed’ for tram-train operation in the UK.

However Robert Whyte, Commercial Manager at Alstom Transport, pointed out to APPLRG that tram-train is already established in France and Germany, and the UK is ‘still quite a long way behind our continental cousins’ and ‘seems to be forever trying to reinvent the wheel’.