The Middlewood route runs northwest from the city centre, through student and residential areas, to a terminus at Middlewood, on the Stocksbridge Road. There is also a short branch from Hillsborough to Malin Bridge.
The route is almost all on-street running, with a short section of reserved track along the central reservation of the A61, including a section which shares a railway alignment with a heavy rail track.
Trams run every ten minutes from Middlewood through the city and on to Meadowhall (Yellow Line), and every 10 minutes from the Malin Bridge branch through the city to Halfway (Blue Line). This gives a combined frequency of five minutes between Hillsborough and the city.
Trams run in the city centre between Fitzalan Square and West Street. From Fitzalan Square/Ponds Forge through Castle Square to Cathedral, trams run on-street, separated from other traffic, along Commercial Street, High Street and Church Street. Beyond Cathedral trams share the road with other traffic, running up West Street towards the University. There is a stop on West Street.
As well as the Blue and Yellow Line trams which run up to Middlewood and Malin Bridge, Purple Line trams run to/from Herdings Park through Fitzalan Square as far as Cathedral. In the mornings and early afternoons (and up to early evening at weekends) these trams reverse at Cathedral and travel to/from Meadowhall. This means that for most of the day there are 16 trams per hour between Fitzalan Square and Cathedral, with trams often queueing to pull up to stops.
West Street becomes Glossop Road, and at its junction with the A61 Hanover Street the tram lines turn right. There is a stop at this junction, on the central reservation of the A61, University of Sheffield. The tramway then dives into an underpass to cross the roundabout with the A57, reappearing on the other side of the roundabout to continue down the central reservation on ballasted track via a stop at Netherthorpe Road. Just before Shalesmoor stop the tram lines swing to the left, across the A61, and the stop is at the side of the road. On leaving the stop trams join Infirmary Road, and share the street with other traffic.
Blue Line trams turn left at Hillsborough Corner and take the ½-mile branch along the A6101 Holme Lane to Malin Bridge terminus. There are no intermediate stops.
This branch is on-street, except for the last few yards where the stop is separated from the road.
From Hillsborough Corner Yellow Line trams continue up Middlewood Road to Middlewood. There is a second stop in Hillsborough—Hillsborough Park—after which the line runs alongside the park to a stop at Leppings Lane. A little further on the trams run onto the A6102 Middlewood Road, which they follow as far as the terminus at Middlewood, where there is a Park and Ride operation.
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