Tram-train in Kassel, Germany.

UK: Proposals to test diesel 'tram-trains' on the Sheffield - Huddersfield line have been put on hold in favour of linking Sheffield city centre with Rotherham through a new connection between the Supertram light rail network and a Network Rail freight line at Meadowhall South.

'We have learned a lot from the work we have done so far on the tram-trains project and it is now the right course of action to move to the Rotherham - Sheffield option' said Heidi Mottram, Managing Director of Northern Rail which would have operated the diesel tram-trains.

Studies suggested electric vehicles would be more economically viable than diesel, and rephasing will allow testing of the core tram-train concept of through-running from heavy to light rail networks, which would have problematic on the Sheffield - Penistone - Huddersfield route.

Work undertaken so far has concluded that altering heavy rail track, signalling and stations to accommodate tram-trains would be slightly cheaper than anticipated. The partners still hope to test diesel-electric vehicles on the 60 km Huddersfield route at a later date, but the Department for Transport said their cost was 'presently unaffordable'.

Transport Minister Chris Mole announced the changed of plan on a visit to Meadowhall on September 15. 'Tram-train is a new concept for Britain, but it has already proved a valuable addition to rail fleets on the continent', he said. 'Adapting tram-train to the UK requires some testing, but while that is underway, people in South Yorkshire will have the chance to experience this new type of vehicle for themselves - and I hope they will tell us what they think of it.'