The birth of Nottingham’s NET tram system and its evolution

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Has it really been 18 years since our city got a new tram system?

We are now so used to seeing the sleek green passenger-carrying machines that they glide past us without a second glance.

But in 2004, the return of the tram to Nottingham after an absence of seven decades was a seismic change in the life of the city.

READ MORE: How Nottingham’s historic Stanley House with its spectacular lookout tower was saved from demolition

Trams first got the green light in 1998, when The Post gleefully ran the headline ‘Trams A Go Go’ after the government approved the multi-million pound project.

Then-Minister for Transport Dr John Reid announced £167m was earmarked to build the Nottingham Express Transit (NET) service between the city and Hucknall – the realization of a ten-year dream to combat congestion.



Work in progress on the terminus of the Nottingham Express Tramway system at the junction of Collin Street and Canal Street in Nottingham, 2001

It was “good news for jobs,” an environment ministry spokesman said at the time.

“It’s a great example of a good integrated transport system as it has a park and ride facility and easy connections to local rail and bus services, particularly the Robin Hood line,” he added. .

It was estimated that the service would eventually carry ten million passengers each year.



Tram works in the heart of Nottingham, 2002
Tram works in the heart of Nottingham, 2002

This figure was surpassed in 2007-8, and a second line, which had been on the drawing board since 2003, was confirmed.

However, not everyone was happy. Traders were frustrated by the disruption to business, while people living near the road complained about the impact on their homes.

Tram use has increased significantly over time, with NET now responsible for almost 19 million trips per year.

And just a glance at crowded park-and-rides like The Forest confirms the significant number of cars that are kept away from the city centre.

In August 2015, the second phase of the network, from Toton Lane Park and Ride to Nottingham, finally opened. Nine other routes were then identified for possible development in the future.

See more photos in the gallery below

As of mid-2018 a small southward extension beyond the Clifton South terminus was under consideration, with a view to serving the 3,000-home Fairham Pastures development via the A453.

Today, a fleet of 37 trams operate on 20 miles of track, which consists of two lines crossing the city that run together on a common section for the middle part of the journey.

Line 1, which has a total of 33 or 34 tram stops (depending on direction) runs between Toton Lane tram stop and Hucknall, and has a journey time of 62 minutes.



Nottingham tram signs had spent £100,000 in 2005
Nottingham tram signs had spent £100,000 in 2005

Line 2, which has 27 or 28 stops (always depending on the direction), connects Clifton to Phoenix Park with a journey time of 47 minutes.

The trams on each line run at varying frequency, ranging from four to eight trams per hour.

NET currently operates 15 Bombardier Incentro AT6/5 trams and 22 Alstom Citadis 302 trams.



Maureen Langham, winner of the Nottingham Evening Post tram competition, takes a spin on Nottingham's new tram system.
Maureen Langham, winner of the Nottingham Evening Post tram competition, takes a spin on Nottingham’s new tram system.

Since the network’s launch on March 9, 2004, the trams have been named after a local hero of the past or present – including actress Vicky McClure, ice skating champions Torvill and Dean, author DH Lawrence, the poet Lord Byron and none other than Robin Hood himself.

And in December last year, a tram was named Professor Martin Poliakoff – research professor of chemistry at the University of Nottingham.

The Nottingham Post’s brilliant new Memory Lane special commemorates Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with many fantastic memorabilia from her travels in our area and more. To avoid disappointment, place your order now on our online store.

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