Siemens-Duewag Supertram

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20091223 375 Supertram 114.jpg
Stagecoach Supertram 114
In service 1994 – present
Manufacturer Siemens-Duewag
Built at Düsseldorf, Germany
Constructed 1992
Refurbishment 2006-2009
Number built 25
Number in service 25
Fleet numbers 101-125 (originally 01-25)
Capacity 86 seats, 155 standing per tram
Operator(s) Sheffield Supertram
Car body construction Steel
Car length 34.8m
Width 2.65m
Height 3.645m
Articulated sections 3
Maximum speed 80 km/h (50 mph)
Weight 46.5t per tram
Prime mover(s) 4x 277kw Three phase AC
Electric system(s) 750 V DC Overhead lines
Current collection method Pantograph
Type: Brecknell Willis High Reach
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The 'Supertram' system comprises a fleet of 25 trams built by Siemens-Duewag of Düsseldorf, Germany in 1992 for use on the Sheffield Supertram light rail network in England.


On street running at the Middlewood terminus

After undergoing trials on Düsseldorf's Rheinbahn system, the trams were delivered to Sheffield via the Rotterdam-Immingham cargo ship route. The trams are bidirectional. Each tram comprises three articulated carriages and has a low-floor area of 40%. All four entrances are at 42 cm low level which matches the height of the platforms, thereby providing level access. The low-floor areas have limited seating and provide space for pushchairs and wheel chairs. The high floor areas are 88 cm high and can be found at the outer-end of each end carriage and in the centre carriage; they are reached by either two or three steps.

Since its rail network includes gradients up to 10%, all vehicle axles are powered, which limits the low-floor area to that between the bogies. For maximized low floor area, the middle bogies are installed entirely below the centre carriage section rather than under the articulations. The wheels are type Bochum 84, have resilient rubber inserts and have a diameter of 67 cm. They may be worn to a diameter of at least 59 cm.

There are four monomotor bogies, each powered by a longitudinally suspended motor driving both axles. The power supply is 750 volts DC from overhead lines using a pantograph (the Brecknell Willis High Reach pantograph). Speed is controlled from the cab by a joystick controller with a which must be continually held in place to keep the track brakes off. No other vigilance control is fitted, because of the perceived safety of a system of street-running trams. Drivers are seated on sprung seats for comfort and a PA system allows them to communicate with passengers.

The vehicle interior is designed to meet safety requirements. The interior fittings have no sharp edges to prevent any injury and there are numerous grab rails for standing passengers. The interior lining of the ceiling consists of aluminium honeycomb bonded with melamine coloured resin. The lining is attached to suspension points welded to the roof section. The inside walls are made from coloured melamine material. The complete lining for the articulations consists of coloured fibreglass. The rear wall of the driving cab is made of laminated wood with a melamine veneer.

Passenger have 86 upholstered seats arranged face to face. The low floor areas possess minimum seating to provide space for wheelchairs in accordance with the requirements of the DPTAC. Studies were carried out by the Cranfield Institute of Technology to ensure that all members of the public may have access to the vehicles.

Beginning in September 2005, the trams' manual destination boards were changed to multicolour LED signs conforming with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA). Also, the driver-announced destination messages were replaced by recorded announcements. Three voices with local accents were chosen to record the destination messages on the three different tram lines.

Following the start of a refurbishment project in January 2006, the first of the refurbished trams was launched at the Nunnery Depot on 27 January 2006. The new livery is similar to the Stagecoach bus livery, but the doors are painted orange to conform with the DDA. Since 3 February 2009, all twenty-five trams have been refurbished.[1]


The current livery.

The initial tram livery was overall light grey with a dark blue skirt,[2] and Supertram fleetnames. A minor modification appeared just prior to the Stagecoach Group rebranding, when the current motto was added to the centre car in large letters under the windows.

Following the Stagecoach takeover in 1997, the trams were rebranded into the corporate Stagecoach identity, a white base with three stripes, with a Stagecoach fleet name and SUPERTRAM strapline, in line with their UK bus fleet. Later, as the bus fleets were given a new livery, a dark blue base was added under the orange, red and blue stripes.

Between January 2006 and January 2009 the entire fleet was refurbished internally as part of the 'refresh programme'. In parallel, the tram livery was rebranded to the current scheme, a predominantly blue livery and more prominent logo and a smaller subordinate Stagecoach identifier. This was loosely based on the blue version of the South West Trains corporate Stagecoach livery. Before and after images of the refresh are available on the operator's website.[3] In May 2009 the second part of the refresh programme began, which was an overhaul of the tram's under-floor running equipment. It lasted until the end of 2012 and meant that one tram was once again permanently unavailable for service, and the system therefore continued to operate with 23 trams out of an 'available for service' fleet of 25. [4]

In addition to the standard liveries, a number of all over advertising schemes have been used on individual trams for places such as the Meadowhall Centre,[5][6] a jobs website[7] and a holiday company.[8] June 2009 saw another advertising livery, when tram 120 received livery for East Midlands Trains, also part of the Stagecoach Group.

November 2009 saw a small, short-lived change to the tram liveries. For the first time in its history, the operator publicly marked the annual Remembrance celebrations by putting large poppies on the trams. The poppies first appeared on Saturday 7 November, the day before Remembrance Sunday.

In 2010, tram 120 was again used to feature a nonstandard livery, this time to mark the 50th anniversary of the closure of the former tram network and to celebrate the influence of the trams on the city. The design featured the same azure blue and cream colours used on the original Sheffield Tramway, the Sheffield City Coat of Arms and removal of the external advertising boards.[9]


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