A Dublin view – ‘Sheffield’s £240m supertram superflop’.

I take you back to April 1998 when the Dublin Evening Herald published this gloomy article – ‘Sheffield’s £240m supertram superflop’.

“The experience of the Supertram in Sheffield is not a happy example of how LUAS can curb Dublin’s traffic problems. The light rail cost £240m in public funds to build and was touted as the green solution to traffic and pollution. Yet even its supporters now admit it’s been a disaster. Built in 1996, one year later, the Tories decided to privatise it. The value was set at £100m but late last year it was sold to Stagecoach, for £1m. It has always run at a loss and constantly failed to woo passengers from cars. Traffic is worse since construction was completed.”

Luas (Irish for ‘speed’), Dublin’s equivalent tram system opened in 2004, and was subject to the same pre-build criticism that Sheffield experienced.

The Sheffield Supertram network flourished under the management of Stagecoach. Passenger numbers increased rapidly and reached a peak of 15million a year in 2009, 2011 and 2012. The network was expanded in 2018 with the Sheffield/Rotherham tram-train but passenger numbers fell between 2017-2020 and then, of course, COVID came along.

But far from being a disaster, Supertram is now embedded in Sheffield history.

Stagecoach’s existing contract runs out in 2024, the same year that South Yorkshire taxpayers are due to stop paying the 5p a week levy to plug the early losses.

© 2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.