VolkerRail has been awarded a £4 million contract by South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), and will begin work in the next two weeks on the joint tram rail replacement project between SYPTE and Stagecoach Supertram.
The work, which is the largest investment programme in the tram system since it began running, involves replacing 5,450 metres of the tram track, which was originally laid around 20 years ago and is now experiencing wear.
Tram network owner SYPTE and system operator Stagecoach Supertram are funding a major programme of rail replacement works on the network, with the majority of work being undertaken during the next five years.
The first main phase of the project involves engineering work on the section of track on Park Grange Road. Work is expected to start at the end of June and take around 12 weeks. Other smaller scale works will also be carried out during this time but will be completed mainly at weekends. These will take place at Granville Road, Ridgeway Road, City Hall, Shalesmoor, Albert Terrace Road and Ripley Street. During all works a dedicated tram replacement bus service will operate to allow passengers to continue their journey where tram services may be temporarily unavailable.
During the project, harder wearing steel will be installed to ensure a longer lifespan, estimated at 25-30 years.
Supertram has operated the system since 1997 and has turned it into a successful tram network which is now used by around 15million people every year.
VolkerRail has recently completed similar projects on Manchester Metrolink, Nottingham Tram and Croydon Tramlink.
During the first phase of work Supertram is introducing a special tram only weekly megarider ticket, priced at £11.50, which will be available to buy on board tram services. The new ticket will help save passengers money during the works by offering a tram only option that is comparable with weekly bus travel in Sheffield. It will also be valid on all bus replacement services relating to the track renewal project. Customers who use bus and tram services will still be able to purchase the bus and tram weekly megarider ticket for £13.50.
David Young, SYPTE Deputy Interim Director General, 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 to ensure the people of Sheffield, and the wider region, have a robust and reliable tram network in the future."
Steve Cocliff, managing director of VolkerRail, commented on the award: "We have had a long relationship working on the Sheffield Supertram and are extremely pleased to have secured yet another contract on the network. We know that the whole team involved in Sheffield Supertram expect the very best for their passengers and we take it as a huge compliment that they chose VolkerRail as their partner to deliver this important renewal scheme."
Supertram's managing director, Margaret Kay, said: "These essential works on the Supertram network will benefit customers and the city of Sheffield many years after the end of our current contract to operate the system. During this project, we will be doing everything we can to minimise the disruption for our customers and we look forward to continuing to deliver high quality tram services for the people of Sheffield once this important work is complete."