The Tram Arrives...

Sunday 07 March 2004
reading time: min, words

In September 1936, Nottingham's last tram made it's final journey to Arnold. Now 70 years on they return...

In September 1936, Nottingham's last tram made it's final journey to Arnold as the out-of-fashion trams lost the battle for supremacy to the modern diesel bus.

Soon, however, they return to save the city from traffic congestion and the noxious fumes it brings and from threatening
Nottingham's march towards being undisputed megalopolis of the East Midlands.

With the double whammy solution of "no local pollution" and "affordable mass transit system" injecting new life back into the hibernating idea, our public transport system has followed the likes of
Sheffield, Liverpool and Manchester in re-embracing trams.

As you would expect from such a thoroughly futuristic solution to our great economic power house's traffic trouble, the new vehicles employ all the cutting edge technology. For example, the edge of the wheels will be cut off every so often to keep them running smoothly and preventing the tram from becoming bumpy and noisy. The tram also carries sand with it that it can drop onto the tracks for extra grip (OK, so the old trams had this too, but today it's automatic).


The imaginatively named "Line 1" has had trams running through the city centre since last September. According to the original plan, they should have been running since November the 11th, but a few hiccups (and coughs and splutters) along the way have delayed the opening.

One of the setbacks in the tram's progress was a couple of derailments. The first involved a tram splitting its points and sliding sideways into a pole, and led to a redesigning of the plates the points slide on. The specialist staff needed were few and far between, and waiting for them to be available to come and work led to some delays.

As Colin Lea of NET says "it's a bit like waiting for a plumber to come to your home". The second derailment was a more minor affair, requiring the tram to be simply lifted back onto the tracks. Apparently minor derailments are an unavoidable (if infrequent) part of running a tram system, and NET has recovery vehicles to go and jack the trams back onto their tracks.

Nottingham Express Transit are confident that, as the trams go in for their 15,000 mile service, the finishing touches are in place and her majesty's Railway Inspectorate and the Highways Authority should issue a safety certificate allowing the trams to carry the public within the next couple of months. A few people have even been granted special permission to travel on the tram in advance, including our illustrious mayor and Santa Clause.


According to Allen's Illustrated Guide to Nottingham the tram cost 1p in 1888. Today (well, tomorrow really) a day ticket on the tram will cost you £2 and for an extra 20p you'll be able to ride the buses also. Conductors will wander up and down the 33 metres of tram selling tickets or checking your EasyRider smart card.


Every night the 15 trams will be stationed in the Wilkinson Street Depot, and each morning they'll pass through the tram equivalent of a car wash, ensuring that they look spotless on the outside. But to make sure the trams remain a shining example of Nottingham's international image, remember to keep your feet off the seats.

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