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Stagecoach selected to operate Sheffield tramline

Stagecoach, the bus and trains group, has been selected as the preferred operator to run the Sheffield tram system. The company is in "detailed negotiations" with the existing operators, the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive.

Stagecoach declined to say how much it might pay to win the contract to run it but it is thought it would not be a sizeable figure. Stagecoach is not bidding for the assets of the system but purely the right to run it. The "Supertram" network became fully operation in 1995 after a long period when its construction caused sever disruption in the centre of Sheffield.

Separately, Stagecoach's train leasing subsidiary Porterbrook, has announced its first speculative rolling stock order since rail privatisation. The value of the order is estimated at pounds 25m. The order is expected to comprise two and three car diesel units and should be available to train-operating companies from mid-1998. The lines operated by Stagecoach itself include South West Trains and the Isle of Wight line.

The order follows a number of similar expansion moves by Brian Souter's company, which reports its interims tomorrow. Last month it said it was planning a bid to run Luton Airport. The company is one of 14 bidders.