Sheffield tram network owner South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) and system operator Stagecoach Supertram have revealed a £32m plan to replace worn out sections of the tram network.
Work on the project is scheduled to commence in summer 2013 with the majority of the works expected to be completed during the next five years.
First phase of the project will commence in late June or early July of 2013 on the section between Spring Lane and Park Grange Croft.
A bus service will replace the trams during the construction work, which is expected to be completed in 12 weeks.
The rail tracks need to be replaced, as large sections of the tracks have reached their service life due to the use by trams, as well as wear and tear caused by heavy road traffic.
According the company, it has already made investment to extend the service life of the tracks by five years, but about 22km of the 29km tram network need to be replaced by 2024.
The works have been organised to fit alongside the planned tram train pilot project, which is expected to be in operation by 2016. This wwill see Sheffied and Rotherham linked by new rail vehicles adapted to run on both light and heavy lines.
As part of the project, SYPTE will invest in the track renewal work, while South Yorkshire Supertram Limited (SYSL), part of Stagecoach Group, will provide infrastructure work, cover any reduced passenger revenue associated with the temporary service disruption.
SYPTE deputy interim director general and director of customer experience David Young said when the tram system was laid in 1994, it was expected to last at least 30 years.
"However, over the past two years, it has become clear that this replacement work needs to be carried out sooner rather than later to ensure the people of Sheffield, and the wider region, have a robust and reliable tram network in the future," Young said.
Following completion of the work, it is expected that the new rails, which will be made from harder wearing steel, will have a life-span of 25-30 years.
Image: The first phase of the replacement project will start in late June or early July of 2013. Photo courtesy of Stagecoach Group.