Nottingham tram extension still hoped for – but now at least 14 years away

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Nottingham trams
By Jamie Waller, Local Democracy Reporter

Nottingham’s tram network still hopes to expand but bosses believe any extension is now at least 14 years away.

A route to Gedling is one of the most likely options – but at least a decade of planning and negotiation will be needed, a meeting was told on Tuesday (July 9).

Andrew Conroy, chief operating officer of Tramlink, which runs the network, told local councillors there were big questions to answer about the financing and power source before planning could progress.

“It would take four years to get to the point where we agree to do something, and another ten years before spades in the ground,” he told the Greater Nottingham Light Rapid Transit Advisory Committee.

“We then have to consider what trams will look like then, because it will have to operate for 30 years.

“Would it be overhead power, battery or hydrogen, and how would it interlink with existing trams? I suggest it wouldn’t be overhead as that’s the biggest problem when building and operating the network.

“Then we need to know who the future investor is – the existing government? If we’re going to do it, we need to start talking about it now.”

“As a business, Tramlink would be prepared to do feasibility studies, but someone needs to instruct us.”

He added that a route to Gedling could be “the right thing commercially – it brings people onto the network and opens up channels to Newark and Lincoln”.

Other potential routes which have been suggested include to the now-cancelled HS2 hub at Toton and from Clifton South to the new Fairham development close by.

The Nottingham Express Transit network first opened in 2004 and the second phase extension opened in 2015.

Members of the committee were keen to hear about potential extensions.

Councillor Michael Edwards (Lab) said: “Phase one took 14 years to plan and build, and phase two took another 14 years. If we want anything open by 2034 [when Tramlink’s contract expires] we are already four years behind.”

He added: “Given the poor air quality in city centre and the traffic from West Bridgford, the obvious thing to do is extend.

“A park and ride on the A52 would relieve a lot of the pressures on West Bridgford.”

Passenger numbers have now returned to around 87 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, the committee was also told.

Bosses also warned getting replacement parts for ageing trams was becoming increasingly difficult.

Trevor Stocker, Head of Operations at NET said: “A lot of parts used are obsolete or have a delay in production post-Covid. Some work has been required to identify new suppliers.

“As they get older, more modifications may be required to keep them operational but this is hampered by problems in the supply chain.”

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