Buses to replace trams as tracks are repaired

Sheffield's supertram passes through the city centre
Sheffield's supertram passes through the city centre
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Tram tracks that were first laid two decades ago are set to undergo a five-year overhaul, public transport bosses revealed yesterday, sparking concerns over disruption for passengers and drivers.

An estimated £32m will be spent on Sheffield’s Supertram network funded by infrastructure owner South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) and system operator Stagecoach Supertram.

SYPTE bosses said the engineering work will replace worn out sections of the tracks and was “essential to protect the city’s tram network for the future”.

It is hoped that a £5m bid to the Department for Transport’s Local Pinch Point Fund will help fund the project.

The first phase of replacement work will get under way in late June on the section between Spring Lane and Park Grange Croft tram stops.

During the work – which is expected to take about 12 weeks – the trams will be replaced by buses.

SYPTE said the work will be “aligned” with a planned tram -train pilot project which was announced by the Department for Transport (DfT) in May 2012.

That project, which is expected to be in operation by 2016, will see a new tram-train link operated by Supertram between Sheffield and Rotherham.

Transport executive spokesman David Young said: “When the tram system was installed in 1994, it was widely expected at the time that the rail would have a 30-year lifespan.

“However, over the past two years, it has become clear that this replacement work needs to be carried out sooner rather than later.”

Stagecoach has operated the system since 1997 on a contract which runs until 2024.

The company’s Supertram managing director Margaret Kay said: “These are essential works for the Supertram network and for everyone who uses our trams.

“We understand that our passengers may find it frustrating at times while work is being carried out, but we are working hard to minimise the level of disruption our customers will face.

“We will be providing detailed information about the planned work and the contingency arrangements that will be in place.

“This project is vital in helping us to continue providing a high-quality transport option for people across Sheffield.

“We are also pleased that the joint investment being undertaken now will benefit customers and the city of Sheffield many years after the end of our current contract to operate the system.”