That is the view of transport minister Andrew Jones, who together with the Tram Train project team, officially unveiled the train in Sheffield today (10 Dec).
Commuters in Yorkshire will be the first to benefit from the new trams which are designed to run on both the city’s tramlines and the rail network between Sheffield and Rotherham.
The Tram Trains, which will allow passengers to make a single journey between tram stops and conventional rail stations, are expected to start running in summer 2016.
Jones said: “The unveiling of the UK’s first Tram Train is a major milestone and paves the way for an impressive new fleet of passenger vehicles to come into service from next year.
“This government-funded pioneering project will help transform travel in South Yorkshire with better journeys and improved connections. It will also boost the economy of the local area and beyond.
“Good strategic transport links and infrastructure are central to rebalancing the economy, bringing the country closer together and the success of the Northern Powerhouse.”
Three Tram Trains an hour will travel on the Supertram network from Sheffield Cathedral to Meadowhall South, before proceeding over a new section of track linking the tram line to the rail track called the Tinsley Chord, and on to the national rail network to Parkgate Retail Centre via Rotherham Central station.
SYPTE executive director, Stephen Edwards, added: “Tram Train is a first for the UK.
“The arrival of the first vehicle is an important milestone for the pilot scheme, to test whether the technology could be used elsewhere.
“Tram Train complements South Yorkshire’s transport objectives of improved connectivity and regional growth, and has the ability to transform transport networks both locally and nationally.”