South Yorkshire tram-train project 400% over budget

By Ben Jones              

A report by the National Audit Office (NAO) has revealed that the cost of the heavily delayed South Yorkshire tram-train pilot scheme has soared to more than five times its original budget.

Overdue and over-budget: Sheffield tram-train No. 399206 near Midland station during driver training on May 11. RON COVER

Authorised in 2012 for completion by December 2015 at a cost of £15million, the project has been repeatedly delayed by changes to the specification and additional work required. It is now expected to cost £75.1m with the first tram-trains not expected to run to Rotherham Parkgate until summer 2018.

Network Rail says that the need to develop bespoke overhead line equipment (OHLE) suitable for 750V DC operation as well as possible later conversion to 25kV AC is responsible for much of the delay and extra cost, with bridges needing greater clearances.

In an echo of the GWR Modernisation project, NR has also blamed the poorer state of the existing infrastructure on the former Great Central line between Tinsley and Rotherham.

Other issues identified by the NAO include an underestimation of the project’s complexity, high staff turnover, poor design integration between the various teams and high risk decisions on cost savings that did not pay off.

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