A TRIAL scheme to run tram-trains from Huddersfield to Sheffield could be extended to other busy commuter routes in Yorkshire if it proves successful, business leaders have been told.

Five new tram-trains, which can run on both railway tracks and tram lines will replace conventional trains on the line between Huddersfield and Sheffield via Barnsley for a trial period of two years starting in 2010.

Tram-trains use less fuel and weigh less than conventional trains – reducing wear and tear. They also have faster acceleration and deceleration rates, meaning they can offer passengers improved journey times.

Transport chiefs suggested tram-trains could help solve commuter misery elsewhere in Yorkshire when plans for investment in the region’s transport systems were discussed at a meeting in Leeds hosted by the Forum for the Built Environment.

More than 100,000 people – including hundreds from Huddersfield –commute into Leeds each day. Regeneration in the city could create a further 43,000 jobs – raising the prospect of further pressure on the M62 motorway and rail services.

David Hoggarth, development director at West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive Metro said: “Transport has become a sore point for those travelling to work in the city, with tailbacks on the roads and crowded trains receiving the brunt of the criticism.”

He said tram-trains, which can run on existing rail tracks and on rails set into the city streets, could provide part of the answer.

Said Mr Hoggarth: “This system has been working in Germany for many years where it is renowned for providing greater flexibility and convenience.

“A tram-train trial is to take place on the Huddersfield to Sheffield line. This trial is a first for the UK and will enable Metro to closely monitor how effective the system is.”

Mr Hoggarth said he was confident that the system would work in Yorkshire and – and would be effective in contributing towards reducing congestion on the roads.”

Mr Hoggarth told the meeting that Metro also planned to improve existing rail routes, with investment in electrification, a new fleet of longer trains and improvements at many stations.

The Trans-Pennine rail route, which runs through Huddersfield and links major cities including Leeds, Manchester, York and Liverpool, was also in line for an upgrade in a bid to reduce crowding, cut journey times and improve the quality of rail travel.

The FBE has more than 2,000 members nationwide from a wide variety of backgrounds, including multinational construction companies, cost consultants, architects and designers, property developers, engineers, planners and consultants.