Headlines: March 19th, 2008

Tram-trains bringing quicker journeys and offering a greener travel option for passengers will start running in Yorkshire in 2010. Five tram-trains running on both railway tracks and tram lines, will replace conventional trains currently used on the 37-mile Penistone Line between Huddersfield, Barnsley and Sheffield.

The tram-trains are lighter and greener than conventional trains.They use less fuel and weigh less, which reduces wear and tear on tracks and less disruptive maintenance works are needed. They have faster acceleration and deceleration rates so they can also offer passengers better journey times.

The trial will take two years and will look at the environmental benefits,operating costs and technical suitability, as well as testing how popular the vehicles are with passengers on the route. There is also an option for a second phase which would test the vehicles on the Sheffield Supertram system to see what additional benefits the vehicles can deliver when extended onto city centre tram lines.

The Penistone Line, one of the most successful Community Rail Partnerships, has been chosen for the trial because it offers the chance to test the tram-trains on a route that in part is for passenger trains only and in part for passenger and freight trains. The trial, the first in Britain, could herald the start of a new era in public transport.