HUDDERSFIELD district Greens have welcomed news of a two year tram-train trial on the Penistone Line.
Pioneered in Germany, tram-trains, are a greener diesel and electric hybrid, said to offer reduced journey times and lower maintenance costs.
But their primary advantage is that they can link the mainline railway with an urban tramway, allowing seamless journeys for commuters.
Newsome ward councillor, Andrew Cooper, said: “This is great news – we desperately need improvements along the Penistone Line to reduce journey times between Huddersfield and Sheffield.
“We have long called for improvements along the line to bring down journey times and encourage more people to use public transport.”
Green Party candidate for Kirkburton, Michelle Atkinson, said: “This should result in an improved service for people who use the Penistone Line.
“It is particularly pleasing that there will be some improvements to the track which is one of the key reasons which limits the speed of the service.
“We need to offer people faster and more convenient alternatives to the car if we are to reduce carbon emissions and this announcement can only help.”
The two-year trial, beginning in 2010, will see five tram-trains evaluated along the 37-mile Penistone Line, between Huddersfield and Sheffield.
Currently no trial or link with the Sheffield Supertram is scheduled, but a Department for Transport (DofT) spokesman said a phase two trial, testing the tram-trains in Sheffield, was a “strong possibility”.
The spokesman added that a variety of locations had been considered and the Penistone Line had been chosen due to there being good opportunities for gathering data.
The Association of Community Rail Partnerships, ACoRP, said the trial would see significant investment in the infrastructure along the line.
General manager, Neil Buxton, said: “This is great news for the community rail movement and the Penistone Line in particular.
“We are pleased that this project is taking place in a sensible structured way, and that customer and staff views of the new trains will be taken into account.
‘We, along with the Penistone Line Partnership, and the South Pennines Rail Partnership look forward to working with the Department of Transport, Network Rail and Northern Rail to make this project a success.”
The Huddersfield, Sheffield and Penistone Rail Users Association also welcomed the announcement but said it was concerned the experiment would be little more than the implementation of new vehicles.
It pointed out the need for the new tram trains to have a greater seating capacity than the existing Pacer trains, and that low tram floors, to match the Sheffield Supertram, would require all the platforms at Penistone Line stations to be lowered, including Huddersfield, Barnsley and Meadowhall.
A Network Rail spokeswoman said a track evaluation process was now underway and details of the works required would be released when it was complete.