The Bartlett School of Planning


Sustainable Integrated Tram-Based Transport Projects for Peripheral European Regions (SINTROPHER)

20 January 2017


Sintropher is a transnational cooperation project bringing together five regions in North-West Europe. The project is due to last five years, with 14 partner agencies in five EU Member States. With a budget of €23m, it is part-financed by the EU INTERREG IVB programme, and involves a series of 36 feasibility evaluations, pilot investment and demonstration projects, as well as comparative analysis of EU best practice. The Lead Partner is University College London.

All our work is motivated by one overarching aim: to develop sustainable, cost-effective solutions to improve accessibility to, from and within peripheral regions in North-West Europe. As part of this, we have four specific objectives:

  • Promote best possible cost-effective technology-based solutions
  • Assess the appraisal procedure for regional tram systems and improve the business case development process
  • Achieve high-quality, seamless interchange between regional tram systems and regional rail and air hubs
  • Promote and market the benefits of regional tram-based systems to users and stakeholders

We have a particular focus on tram-train systems which allow local trams to run on to national rail networks, pioneered in Karlsruhe and developed in Kassel (Germany), which allow urban tram systems to extend over national rail tracks to serve extensive city regions. Additionally we are looking at high-quality interchanges at key rail or air hubs.

This will all be tested across five demonstration regions in five EU Member States: Valenciennes (France); the Fylde Coast (UK); West Flanders (Belgium); North Hesse (Germany); and Nijmegen-Kleve (The Netherlands). Each region will implement a programme of technical and economic feasibility evaluations for new systems, pilot investment projects, and demonstration projects.

The overall project will complement this by a set of comparative analyses of EU best practice.


Professor Sir Peter Hall

Colin Osborne
Colin is Project Manager for Sintropher
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Charles King
Charles is Communications Manager for Sintropher
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Iqbal Hamiduddin
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Lenore Scott
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Véronique Shipley
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Dr Charlotte Halpern
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The project has 27 different actions and nine investments including economic and technical feasibility studies, pilot projects, demonstration projects, marketing trials and comparative analysis of EU best practice. Each of these is grouped into one of four cross-cutting work packages in order to promote knowledge transfer and cooperation between partners.

Work Package 1 - Technical and Legal Challenges

This area of research focuses on the knowledge transfer on technical and legal challenges in the development of regional tram-based transport systems. We want to promote the best possible, cost-effective, innovative technical solutions for tram- and rail-based systems, drawing on successful experience in peripheral regions of North-West Europe, and identify the added value of transnational cooperation for the diffusion of this knowledge.

Work Package 2 - Economic Feasibility of Tram Systems

Here we will be looking at knowledge transfer on the different approaches to appraisal of economic feasibility and territorial impacts of new regional and local tram-based transport systems. The objective of this work package is to overcome economic obstacles, develop business cases and improve the appraisal of regional tram-based systems.

Work Package 3 - Interoperability of Transport Hubs

Our objective here is to achieve high-quality, seamless intermodal transfer between the regional tram and major regional rail and air hubs.

Such interchanges should be capable of attracting users on to public transport, with special emphasis on the most car-dependent passengers, based on 'accessibility for all'.

The design process uses three criteria:

  • sustainability
  • integration
  • technical design

Findings will be summarised in a comparative report on improving the technical interoperability of transport hubs.

Work Package 4 - Innovative Marketing Initiatives

The objective here is to promote the shift to regional tram systems to a range of users, to make them a sustainable success. Activities involve engagement between transport operators and major employers, specifying marketing strategies, and pilot testing new ones; and targeting those outside the traditional passenger groups. A key element is to integrate passenger information systems from different transport operators.


The impact of this project can be measured in the following ways:

  • Publishing and disseminating our findings for each of the actions above to an audience of practitioners, and policy-makers at regional, national and EU level, as well as the academic community
  • Generating policy briefings
  • Construction of new infrastructure - tramways and interchanges
  • Holding a large-scale conference at the British Library in May 2011 to contextualise our work and broaden the debate, attended by over 120 delegates. 
  • Maintaining an active project website as a resource for publishing our findings. 
  • Link-ups with other related mobility projects to create a transport cluster, SYNAPTIC, and widen the field of expertise and share results still further