Costs row over £17m Supertram rail replacement

Supertram rails have not lasted as long as predicted.
Supertram rails have not lasted as long as predicted.

A row is brewing over who should pay for a £17m Sheffield Supertram rail replacement scheme.

Barnsley leader Sir Steve Houghton says Barnsley taxpayers should not have to stump up for a service they don’t receive and Sheffield residents should pay more.

The issue was discussed behind closed doors at a meeting of South Yorkshire leaders.

But the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport website has details of ‘Phase 2’ of the replacement scheme. It includes a bid for £10m to the Department for Transport, £5m from local councils and £2.4m from Supertram franchisee Stagecoach.

An SYPTE report states rails ‘have not lasted as long as predicted in the 1990s’ and ‘if funding is not secured, parts of the network would close in 2018,’ that would be followed by ‘full network closure in 2018/19’.

Five miles of rails across the network are set to be replaced.

It is understood ‘Phase 1’, which cost £15m, was funded by the South Yorkshire councils and was completed in 2016.

The row over funding has echoes of the controversy over Supertram construction costs which fell on all South Yorkshire councils. It opened in 1991, cost £240m and was four times over budget.

Sir Steve Houghton added: “Supertram was highly controversial. It was incredibly expensive and almost bankrupted us. If we are now saying the whole system has to be replenished Sheffield must make a greater contribution.”