UK: The first of seven Class 399 Citylink vehicles being supplied for the Sheffield – Rotherham tram train project was launched into passenger service with a special run between Nunnery depot and Meadowhall on September 14. Invited guests included Transport Minister Paul Maynard and the CEO of Stadler Rail Valencia Iñigo Parra.

Equipped to take power at 750 V DC and 25 kV 50 Hz, the Valencia-built vehicles were ordered both to work the through service to Rotherham using a new connection to Network Rail tracks near Meadowhall and to augment the existing Sheffield Supertram fleet.

Following delays to the infrastructure works, the Rotherham tram-train service is now expected to begin in the autumn of 2018. In the meantime, the Citylink cars are to be deployed across the existing Supertram network from October, following the completion of commissioning, testing and driver training.

Maynard said the entry into passenger service marked ‘a significant milestone’ for the South Yorkshire tram-train project, which would ‘transform services for passengers, enabling quick and easy movement across the region, reducing journey times and boosting the economy’.

According to Sheffield Supertram’s Interim Managing Director Tim Bilby, one underestimated challenge has been the development of a wheel profile suitable for use on both Supertram and Network Rail tracks. At present, he says, all seven vehicles have been delivered with the standard wheel profile used on the rest of the tram fleet. Four cars are to be modified with new wheels to operate the Sheffield – Rotherham service.