As much as I think somewhere like Leeds would be the biggest beneficiary of a UK Tram-Train system, the only documented plans tat could justify Network Rail's interest in aqquiring them would be for the Marple branch of Metrolink as a full feasibility study has been carried out by GMPTE.UK in line for new tram-trains
By Jonathan RusselL, Sunday Telegraph
Network Rail is drawing up plans with the Department for Transport and a major rail operating company to introduce 'tram-trains' to Britain.
The plan will involve Network Rail financing the multi-million pound acquisition of a fleet of innovative lightweight trains that operate seamlessly between traditional train lines and tram networks.
Although a route has not been decided for the trial, Network Rail is understood to be in talks with Northern Rail, which operates across Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester, about the scheme.
A spokesman for Network Rail said: "This is an exciting, innovative project that looks to offer new journey opportunities for passengers and reduce the whole life cost of the railway."
The project will involve Network Rail getting a waiver from the DfT on its network licence, which currently precludes the organisation from entering financing deals on rolling stock other than maintenance vehicles. However, the Government is thought to be sympathetic to the idea of tram-trains.
The scheme is being presented as a way of streamlining the transport network around major cities - the same vehicle can take passengers across long distances between cities, but then enter urban areas and drop them off nearer their destination, just as a bus or tram would.
The lightweight vehicles, which are already used in cities such as Kassel in Germany, are designed to reduce energy consumption and therefore have a lower carbon footprint while also creating less wear and tear on the railway infrastructure.
As they can brake and accelerate far more quickly than existing trains, time wasted at stops is also significantly reduced.
The parties involved are understood to be in the process of identifying a trial route for the new scheme. Although both Manchester and Newcastle have tram networks, the consortium has not ruled out building new tramlines in an area that does not have an existing network.
It also seems pointless to have tram-trains up and running for a trial if there is no tram infrastructure already in place in the trial area. It would need a standard system for the trial to work properly, rather than build it from scratch. It might not work so both heavy rail and tram systems need to be ready before a trial went ahead and vehichles were purchased. For this reason I am 99% sure the Tram-Train trial will be in Greater Manchester, infact I have it on good authority that it will be coming here within the next 3 years.
I suspect this *could* most likely be part of a number of existing Northern Rail operations, Newcastle Metro being one of them, and of course Manchester's Metrolink. There's also every possilibity that it could also apply to Merseyside or West Yorkshire, Leeds - with all the problems of overcrowding and the huge surge in rail usage there coupled with the cancelled Leeds Super-Tram plans. Then there's also the plans for the Tees Valley Metro which will involve tram-trains on a line currently operated by Northern Rail.
Interesting stuff eh?! No doubt we'll be getting more information very soon as to who the lucky cities will be the first to have a tram-train network!
Let's just hope the London-centric DfT don't go scuppering our hopes of tram-trains in Britain!