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The Sheffield Supertram (officially the Stagecoach Supertram) is an English light rail tram system in the city of Sheffield, South Yorkshire. The infrastructure is owned by the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, with Stagecoach operating and maintaining the trams. The service commenced in 1994 and currently consists of 48 stations across three colour-coded lines, the Blue, Purple and Yellow Routes. As well as connecting with local and national bus and rail services, the network serves six park and ride sites.[2]

Sheffield Supertram
Sheffield supertram at Cathedral stop - DSC07446.JPG
Owner South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive
Locale Sheffield
Transit type Light rail tram
Number of lines 3
Number of stations 48
Annual ridership 12.6 million (2016/17)[1]
Increase 9.0%
Began operation 21 March 1994 (1994-03-21)
Operator(s) Stagecoach
Number of vehicles 25 Siemens-Duewag Supertram
07 Vossloh British Rail Class 399
System length 29 km (18 mi)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification Overhead line (750 V DC)
Top speed 50 miles per hour (80 km/h)



Following a parliamentary act in 1985 authorising the scheme, the Supertram line was built by the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) at a cost of £240 million,[3] and opened in stages in 1994/95. It was operated by South Yorkshire Supertram Limited,[4] a wholly owned subsidiary company of SYPTE. In December 1997, the company was sold to Stagecoach for £1.15 million.[5] Stagecoach gained the concession to maintain and operate the Supertram trams until 2024.[6] Patronage has grown from 7.8 million passenger journeys in 1996/97, to 15.0 million in 2011/12.[7] In 2016/17 it carried 12.6 million passengers.[1]


Two Siemens-Duewag Supertrams at Meadowhall Interchange in July 2004 in a modified version of the original Stagecoach livery
Siemens-Duewag Supertram 124 arriving at Gleadless Townend tram stop, on the Blue Route to Halfway

The Sheffield Supertram runs from Sheffield City Centre north-west to Middlewood and Malin Bridge via the University of Sheffield and Hillsborough; north-east to Meadowhall Interchange via Attercliffe; and south-east to Halfway and Herdings Park via Norfolk Park, Manor, and Gleadless. Construction started in 1991 and the first section to open was along a former heavy rail alignment to Meadowhall on 21 March 1994,[6] shortly after the similar Metrolink scheme in Manchester.

The system consists of a mix of on-street running, reserved right-of-way and former railway alignment. The Middlewood and Malin Bridge lines run mainly on the street up to the City Centre; the Meadowhall line runs totally on reserved track – from Attercliffe to Meadowhall it runs on former railway line alongside a freight line to Tinsley Yard and the main line at Rotherham Central. The inner part of the Halfway and Herdings Park lines consist of on-street running, with the exception of the railway station and the viaduct at Granville Road. The Herdings line then runs on reserved track, and the Halfway line crosses the county border into Derbyshire and out again on reserved lines in the countryside. This line also serves Crystal Peaks Shopping Centre.

The three main City Centre stops are located on one side of a former dual carriageway, now a single lane and reserved for buses only. These three stops are served by all routes


The Sheffield Supertram network is organised around Park Square and comprises three lines. The lines, with termini at Meadowhall Interchange, Halfway and Hillsborough, all serve Sheffield city centre and meet at Park Square where a triangular junction was constructed to provide interchange between lines and operational flexibility. Two small branches serving Malin Bridge, from Hillsborough Interchange, and Herdings Park branch out from two of the main lines.

A map of the Supertram network. Diagram of the Supertram network

Tram-train servicesEdit

Franchise(s) Tram-train operator, not subject to franchising
Services due to begin 2017, delayed until summer 2018
Main Region(s) South Yorkshire
Other Region(s) North East Derbyshire
Fleet size 25 (6 tram-trains on order) (1 in-testing, estimated in service mid-2016)
Stations called at 48
Route km operated 29
Parent company Stagecoach

Supertram is scheduled to begin operations of the new tram-train line from Cathedral to Rotherham Parkgate, using seven brand new Vossloh-built Class 399 Citylink articulated electric multiple units. The Sheffield Cathedral to Rotherham Parkgate service is to have a frequency of three trams per hour.[8] The existing Siemens-Duewag Supertram fleet will not be upgraded for tram-train operation, so have not been registered under TOPS and cannot be used on the line as they lack the relevant Network Rail safety systems and crashworthiness. The tram-train scheme, which was first planned to be in service by 2015 has been delayed and is not expected to start until the summer 2018.[9][10]

The Class 399 units were built in 2015/16 with the first delivered in December 2015.[11] Until the completion of the tram-train line, some will be used to provide increased capacity on the existing Supertram network. The first entered service on 17 September 2017.[12][13]

SupertramLink bus servicesEdit

Two special Stagecoach Sheffield bus services connect with the tram, providing additional journey opportunities:

  • SL1 runs from Stocksbridge to Middlewood, the north-western terminus of the yellow route
  • SL2 runs from Stannington to Hillsborough or Malin Bridge, the northern terminus of the blue route

Through tickets are available to allow travel on Supertram and SupertramLink services.

Tram stop listEdit

Yellow Route Blue Route Purple Route Tram-train
(under construction)

Extension during Sunday daytimes only:

Technical dataEdit

Siemens-Duewag Supertram 125 leaving Castle Square tram stop, on the Purple Route to Meadowhall Interchange


The Supertram network operates a fleet of 25 three car trams built by Siemens-Duewag of Düsseldorf, Germany in 1992. The trams are capable of carrying 88 seated and 155 standing passengers and are 40% low floor design, the vehicles have been specially designed for gradients as steep as 10%. In the 1980s a design choice was taken to create the longest possible vehicle to avoiding multiple working[14] which resulted in a 34.8-metre (114 ft) design, the third-longest tram design in operation in Europe at the time[15] and the longest in service in the UK until the 42.8-metre (140 ft) long Edinburgh Trams were introduced.

Launched in an initial light grey livery, following the takeover by Stagecoach the trams were reliveried in Stagecoach's corporate livery from 1997. From 2006 the trams were refurbished, and a new dedicated Supertram blue–based livery was launched, rolled out by 2008.

Vossloh has supplied seven tram-train vehicles, delivered between November 2015 and November 2016.[11]

 Class  Image  Top speed   Number   Built   Unit nos.   Notes 
 mph   km/h 
Supertram   50 80 25 1992 101-125
Citylink   62 100 7 2015 201-207[i]


Detail of the Supertram track at Park Square

The network is 29 km (18 mi) long, with 60 km (37 mi) of track.[16] It features two types of track; tramway track where either pedestrians or road traffic share the right of way and ballasted railway track when there are no such requirements. Tramway track consists of a grooved tramway rail set into a concrete base with troughs into which the rails are laid. Most of the track is on-street using 35G-section grooved tram rail, with BS11-80A 80 lb/yd (39.7 kg/m) flat-bottom rail elsewhere.[16] The railway track was supplied by British Steel Corporation Track Products of Workington and laid on sleepers consisting of concrete blocks with steel ties which gives a spring feeling when travelling on these sections. The track is laid on a bed of ballast which in turn rests on a prepared formation. Street crossings are usually laid with grooved tramway rails.

Overhead wiringEdit

Supertram is powered through 12 electric substations and fed through 107 mm2 (0.166 sq in) diameter overhead line equipment (OHLE) wire.[16] The substations convert the 11 kV AC supply into 750 V DC supply into the overhead. The 12 substations are situated as follows:

  • Blackburn Meadows
  • Carbrook
  • Nunnery Square
  • Park Square
  • Arbourthorne
  • Gleadless Townend
  • Birley
  • Crystal Peaks, Ochre Dyke Lane
  • Halfway, Eckington Way
  • University, Brook Hill
  • Langsett Road, Capel Street
  • Middlewood

The overhead line equipment depends on the location. If the tracks are close together, central poles with 'steady' arms on each side are used. If the tracks are further apart, poles on either side with span wire are used. With aesthetics in mind a minimum number of traction poles are used and whenever possible the wire is anchored onto neighbouring buildings. Supertram, Sheffield City Council and landlords were in talks to try and hide anchor points as much as possible and blend them into the structures.

The contact wires are twin cadmium copper ones, twin wires being necessary because of the high installed power rating of the trams (1 megawatt). The regenerative braking on the tram feeds current back into the wires.


The driving cab of a Siemens-Duewag Supertram, heading towards Castle Square from Ponds Forge/Fitzalan Square.

The rules of operation of the Sheffield Supertram are similar to those of a traditional railway. Unlike normal trains, tramways can be operated without signalling, although block signalling is sometimes necessary on single-line sections. The trams are driven on a line-of-sight basis, so that the tram can be stopped if an obstruction is spotted ahead.

Signals, however, are used to give indications to tram drivers when running on-street and at street crossings. As trams have priority at many places, it was necessary to give them different traffic light phases from motor traffic and therefore different types of indication have to be used from those applicable to motor vehicles. Signal phases for the tramway are specifically modified to account for the length of the tram. The tram signals are usually operated alongside and in conjunction with traffic signals. Signals consist of white lights arranged vertically (for go), horizontally (for stop) and a cross (for caution). Two other light arrangement indicate a point direction at junctions. The five white lights are distinct from those of the standard road traffic lights or railway line-side signals.

Tramway signals

Junction signals

Points indicators are provided at junctions to indicate the route which is set through the points. At junctions, where Supertram and train movements can conflict with road traffic, fixed signals are provided in addition to points indicators. A points indicator may only be passed if it displays the correct route indication for the tram concerned and, where fixed signals are provided, if both points indicators and fixed signals are set for the correct route.

Line-side signals give instructions or warnings to tram drivers. To distinguish them from normal road signs, they are diamond-shaped. The most common are speed restrictions which are in miles per hour. These are particularly necessary on road-running where trams travel along with road traffic.

The route a tram is to take is computer-controlled. The route is set on a device in the tram before a journey is started, and on approach to junctions, a signal is sent from the tram to a device known as a VIS loop buried beneath the track. This automatically sets the points in the correct direction.


Siemens-Duewag Supertram 122, operating the Purple Route to Herdings Park, on the permanent way leaving Sheffield station for Sheffield College (Granville Road) in July 2004

The depot is located at Nunnery Square and occupies the former carriage sidings alongside the Sheffield-Lincoln railway line. It was designed and constructed by Balfour Beatty on 2.6 hectares (6.4 acres) of land and consists of a three-line workshop building, six stabling sidings, a turning loop, engineers sidings and sundry equipment. The main offices and reception, supervisor's offices, plant room, staff mess rooms, paint shop, first aid are on the first floor level on the South side of the building. The south-west of the building is home to the Operations and Power Controller's office, where live control of the running of the service is monitored using SCADA, CCTV and radio contact. The depot substation is also located in the south-west corner, two 600 kVA transformer-rectifiers supply the tramway overhead and an 800 kVA transformer feeds the depot facilities.

In the workshop itself are two through-running lines (numbered 8 and 9) and line 10, a stub end. All lines have inspection pits and line 8 possesses a Hegenscheidt wheel lathe. This machine allows wheel turning whilst both sets of doors are closed. The wheelsets are turned in situ. High level access is provided on lines 9 and 10 for servicing of equipment boxes and pantographs. An automated washing machine is located on line 7.

The site's security is provided by CCTV and fence guarding and is under control of security personnel housed in the operations centre. Road access is from Woodbourn Road at the end of the depot.

The site was, before the arrival of Supertram, already dedicated to the railway industry, Nunnery engine shed filled most of the site whilst lines of the Midland Railway, Great Central Railway and London & North Eastern Railway irrigated the area and served collieries.

Tram stopsEdit

Donetsk Way tram stop. The platform edge's alignment and rugged paving can be seen.

The Supertram has 48 stops,[17] which are generally 26.5 m (87 ft) long and 3 m (9.8 ft) deep and are of a network-wide standard making them easy to understand and use. The design incorporates recommendations made by the Cranfield Institute of Technology who studied ergonomics for both able-bodied and disabled users.[18]

The platforms are 37.5 cm (14.8 in) high, with a 1:20 slope. The platform edge comprises a 60 cm (24 in) wide light-coloured textured paving with strips of 40 cm (16 in) wide edge warning tactile strip. Directional guidance tactile paving crosses the width of the platform to coincide with the tram door locations.

Notable structuresEdit

The Supertram network possesses a few remarkable structures. Two viaducts and one underpass are of interest: the two viaducts carry Supertram onto Park Square (a major road junction in the centre of the city), one of them being a six-span viaduct, the other the bowstring steel arch Park Square Bridge. The underpass takes the tram underneath the busy A57 roundabout outside the University of Sheffield.


Until the Stagecoach takeover, ticketing was done via ticket machines provided by Abberfield Technology of Australia. These blue ticket machines dispensed adult single ride tickets, senior citizen concessionary tickets and child concessionary tickets. As well as singles, the machines sold multi-packs at a discount. Fare tables were shown on the machines with the validity of the different prices.

To travel, each ticket had to be validated in a yellow machine on the platform. The ticket defined the type of passenger and trip as tickets do now. On validation, an overprint was added, giving the tramstop code, time and date of validation and the point of validation.

As the machines did not dispense change, nearby shop-owners were often asked for change to purchase tickets from the machines. There were also problems with machine reliability. When Stagecoach took over South Yorkshire Supertram it removed the ticket machines and began selling tickets on board. This meant improved staff presence on board and tickets could be systematically checked.

Stagecoach Sheffield period tickets are valid on the trams and on Stagecoach buses, and period South Yorkshire PTE tickets covering Sheffield or the whole of South Yorkshire are valid on Supertram as well as buses and trains.

Unlike some other tramway and light rail operators in England, Supertram accepts concessionary travel passes issued by any English local authority.[19]

Opening datesEdit

Siemens-Duewag Supertram 123 at Castle Square
  • 21 March 1994: Fitzalan Square to Meadowhall
  • 22 August 1994: Fitzalan Square to Spring Lane
  • 5 December 1994: Spring Lane to Gleadless Townend
  • 18 February 1995: Fitzalan Square to Cathedral
  • 17 February 1995: Cathedral to Shalesmoor
  • 27 March 1995: Gleadless Townend to Halfway
  • 3 April 1995: Gleadless Townend to Herdings Park
  • 23 October 1995: Shalesmoor to Middlewood/Malin Bridge

Future and past plans delays and cost overrunsEdit

The proposed extensions to the Supertram network have undergone many changes over time, with some being cancelled and others running over budget and suffering from delays in their implementation.

In May 2003 the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority announced plans to extend the Supertram network to Hellaby, a suburb of Rotherham, Dore, a suburb of Sheffield and Ranmoor, Sheffield. So far, in December 2017 none of these extensions, estimated (in 2003) to cost a total of £400m has been built.[20][21]

In August 2008 plans were announced for the trial of diesel-electro hybrid tram trains on a route via Network Rail tracks to Huddersfield via Meadowhall, Barnsley and Penistone. The fleet of five tram trains, costing £9 million was expected to be in operation by the end of 2010 with the whole project costing £24 million for the 37 mile route. It was planned that the hourly Northern Rail service from Barnsley to Huddersfield would be scrapped, being replaced by a more frequent tram service with more stops and a faster service due to the trams more rapid acceleration. Plans were also announced for a second trial between Rotherham Central and Sheffield at the same time.[22]

In September 2009 plans for the Sheffield to Huddersfield route were abandoned.[23] The Sheffield to Rotherham route was to go ahead, with trams using a Network Rail freight line. The initial plan was to use electric vehicles capable of operating on either 750V DC or 25KV AC. Trams are planned to go via Rotherham Central to a new station at Rotherham Parkgate. The scheme was estimated to require £15m, later revised upwards to £18.7m to build when first proposed, but is now (in December 2017) expected to cost £75.1m. The proposed route was to have been in operation by 2015 but is now planned to be opened in May 2018 after a series of delays.[24][25][26] Part of the delay was due the transport secretary to failing to approve the building of a 150m (164yd) section of track at Tinsley in a timely manner.[27] The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was critical of Network Rail's initial estimates for the cost of modifications to the route calling them, "wholly unrealistic". The PAC also noted that Network Rail and the Department for Transport (DfT) could not provide figures on how much money had been spent on a now cancelled line electrification project.[28][29] Part of the unexpected rise in the cost of creating the route and the delay was due to the need to demolish and rebuild the College Road road over-bridge next to Rotherham Central station. It was thought that the ballast beneath the railway line could have been excavated to provide headroom for the catenary but this proved not to be feasible.[30][31]

The tram-train extension to Rotherham is currently (in December 2017) under construction and is now scheduled to open in 2018, with a fleet of seven Vossloh Citylink Class 399 tram-trains. This will involve trams operating on Network Rail's line from Tinsley to Rotherham station with a short extension to Rotherham Parkgate Shopping Centre, after travelling on the Supertram line from Sheffield Cathedral to Meadowhall South/Tinsley.[32][33] The proposed station at Rotherham Central will be a combined tram stop and railway station.[34] To cater for the tram train services, Rotherham Central will have platform extensions built to platforms 1 and 2 (to be numbered 3 and 4 respectively). Rotherham Parkgate will be a single platform terminus used to "turn" tram-train services back to Sheffield Cathedral.

In 2017 the Sheffield City Region invited public consultation on The Sheffield City Region Transport Strategy 2018-2040 policy document (draft for consultation November 2017) in which it was revealed that only 1% of the population used the Supertram network on journeys to work in 2011.[35] The number of passengers on the Supertram network increased from 2 million in the 1994/1995 financial years to over 12 million in the 2016/2017 financial years.[36]


The Supertram network has been accused of increasing the dangers of roads in the area, particularly in wet weather.[37]

  • In 1995, engineer William Roe suffered severe brain damage after his car skidded on wet tram tracks and crashed into a metal pole. Supertram were made to award Mr Roe compensation for failing to ensure that the rails were level with the adjacent road surface, and for the lack of warning signs indicating that the tracks are hazardous when wet. It was reported there were 53 accidents involving Supertram in Sheffield between 1994 and 1997, including two fatalities and 12 serious injuries.[38]
  • A man died in 2003 from serious head injuries after he was hit by a tram whilst lying on the tracks.[39]
  • In 2005, a pedestrian was killed after stepping in front of an approaching tram.[40]
  • In October 2015, trams 120 and 118 collided at Shalesmoor. This resulted in the 2 damaged sections of both trams requiring major repairs, whilst the undamaged parts of trams 120 and 118 were put together and painted in a version of the original Sheffield Tramways cream and blue livery to re-create the original 120. This temporarily resulted in the fleet being reduced from 25 to 24 trams with tram 118 returning to service a year later in October 2016.[41]
  • In November 2016, teacher Terry Orwin sustained serious head injuries from crashing while riding a bicycle on Langsett Road and being caught by the tram tracks.[42]
  • In June 2017, two trams were involved in a low-speed collision at Halfway.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Because these vehicles will operate on the National Rail network in addition to the Supertram network, they have been allocated the TOPS numbers 399201-399207
  1. ^ a b "Light Rail and Tram Statistics: England 2016/17" (PDF). Department for Transport. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Sheffield Supertram information". BBC South Yorkshire. BBC. Retrieved 11 March 2009. 
  4. ^ Companies House extract company no 2634683 South Yorkshire Supertram Limited
  5. ^ Sheffield supertram falls victim to competition from cheap buses The Independent 10 June 1996
  6. ^ a b Courtenay, Peter. "Sheffield Supertram: History". Retrieved 19 August 2007. 
  7. ^ "Light rail and tram statistics: 2011/12". Government Digital Service. 19 July 2012.  Table LRT0101
  8. ^ Davis, Ceri (10 December 2015). "UK's First Tram Train Unveiled in South Yorkshire". Retrieved 9 January 2018. 
  9. ^ "Sheffield to Rotherham tram-train scheme delayed by year". BBC News. 8 October 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2016. 
  10. ^ "Sheffield to Rotherham tram-train scheme delayed further". BBC News. 25 November 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2016. 
  11. ^ a b First tram-train heads for Sheffield Railway Gazette International 20 November 2015
  12. ^ Minister launches first Citylink tram train into service Stagecoach 14 September 2017
  13. ^ Sheffield tram-train enters service Metro Report International 15 September 2017
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b c "About us: Technical". Stagecoach Supertram website. Retrieved 19 August 2007. 
  17. ^ Courtenay, Peter. "Sheffield Supertram: Facts and figures". Retrieved 19 August 2007. 
  18. ^ "About us: Access". Stagecoach Supertram website. Retrieved 19 August 2007. 
  19. ^ "Stagecoach Supertram Ticket Information". Stagecoach Group. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  20. ^ "Supertram extension plans revealed". 8 May 2003. Retrieved 16 December 2017. 
  21. ^ "Tram-trains to get first UK trial". 18 March 2008. Retrieved 16 December 2017. 
  22. ^ "Penistone line is chosen for £24m tram trains trial". Rail News. 5 August 2008. Retrieved 16 December 2017. 
  23. ^ UK, DVV Media. "Rotherham tram-train replaces Penistone scheme". Railway Gazette. Retrieved 16 December 2017. 
  24. ^ "Tram-train scheme delayed by year". BBC News. 8 October 2015. Retrieved 16 December 2017. 
  25. ^ "Further delays for tram-train pilot". BBC News. 18 May 2016. Retrieved 16 December 2017. 
  26. ^ "Tram-train scheme costs spiral to £75m". BBC News. 4 July 2017. Retrieved 16 December 2017. 
  27. ^ "City tram-trains trial unveiled". 15 September 2009. Retrieved 16 December 2017. 
  28. ^ "Tram-train pilot failings anger MPs". BBC News. 15 December 2017. Retrieved 16 December 2017. 
  29. ^ "News: Sheffield-Rotherham tram-train pilot - "how not to run a rail project"". Retrieved 16 December 2017. 
  30. ^ Upton, Michael (13 April 2017). "Tram works mean four-month closure for town centre road". Retrieved 16 December 2017. 
  31. ^ "News: Preparations for tram train". Retrieved 16 December 2017. 
  32. ^ Rotherham tram-tram project funding confirmed Railway Gazette International 17 May 2012
  33. ^ "New 2017 hope for delayed £60m Sheffield to Rotherham tram-train scheme". The Star. Retrieved 27 March 2015. 
  34. ^ "Pioneering tram train on track for Rotherham launch". Retrieved 9 January 2018. 
  35. ^ "The Sheffield City Region Transport Strategy 2018-2040 (draft - for consultation November 2017)" (PDF). November 2017. p. 22. Retrieved 9 January 2017. 
  36. ^ "The Sheffield City Region Transport Strategy 2018-2040 (draft - for consultation November 2017)" (PDF). November 2017. p. 25. Retrieved 9 January 2017. 
  37. ^
  38. ^ Stokes, Paul (25 October 2001). "Tram firms face big claims after crash case". The Telegraph. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  39. ^ "Man dies in Supertram accident". BBC News. BBC. 8 March 2003. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  40. ^
  41. ^ "In Pictures: Stagecoach Supertram 118's revised look". British Trams Online. 15 November 2016. Retrieved 6 June 2017. 
  42. ^ "Helmet saves Sheffield dad after horror bike crash". Sheffield Star. 16 November 2016. Retrieved 9 February 2017. 

External linksEdit