The UK’s Radical Tram-Train Revolution

The UK’s first hybrid tram-train has been operating for a year. Now Glasgow, Manchester and areas in Wales are looking to build their own versions

One piece of track part of the way between Meadowhall South, in Sheffield, and Rotherham Central is unique. As a tram makes the journey, it slides onto the special section of track that connects it to the main rail network. There, it switches from driver controls to rail signalling, acting not like a tram but a train.

This fusion of light and heavy rail infrastructure is the UK’s first tram-train – and if South Yorkshire’s trial continues to be as popular in the second year as the first, we could see more hybrid services across the country.

Trams are ideal for inner-city public transport: they are above ground for easy access, have clear routes that can’t be diverted like a bus, and most are electric powered for no emissions. But they aren’t great for linking together our cities, which are further apart and tend to be connected by higher speed rail networks.

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