Telegraph View: More trams would make sense

Richard Blackledge
Richard Blackledge

Next stop on the Sheffield Supertram - Dore and Totley. Well, not today it isn’t - or maybe ever, if the tone of Ben Gilligan, South Yorkshire’s director of public transport, can be accurately gauged.

The tram system’s owners SYPTE are preparing a business case for up to £230 million of further investment in the network, but anyone hoping new routes and additional capacity might be rapidly approaching shouldn’t raise their hopes unduly.

Anyone hoping new routes and additional capacity might be rapidly approaching shouldn’t raise their hopes unduly

The present study is about ‘refreshing’ existing services. The possibility of laying fresh tracks to as yet unreached districts is being left to a project led by the Sheffield City Region.

Mr Gilligan says he is ‘agnostic’ - noncommittal - towards expanding the network. But there genuinely is a strong case to be made in favour of sending trams out to new areas. We’re getting trams to Rotherham but in Sheffield the network feels a little stunted; swathes of the city are completely untouched by the speedy vehicles, which have priority over traffic and in some cases bypass queues altogether.

A tram to Broomhill and the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, for instance, would make perfect sense, ideal for students and another option for those using the bus.

We’ve been here before, of course. The idea of a route to Ranmoor was on the table in the early 2000s but residents recoiled from the proposal.

Trams really should be going to the Northern General Hospital, though. It’s a small town in its own right virtually, and many more people will be expected to visit the site if NHS plans to relocate the GP walk-in centre from Broad Lane are approved.

Still, we’ll all be able to scoot around on our share bikes soon enough. They won’t quite make up for extra tram routes but at least the council is reaffirming its commitment to making Sheffield a cycle-friendly city. Plus it’s a chance to show we’re more appreciative than some in Manchester. No dumping the bikes in the canal, please.