Trams return to the East Midlands
Nottingham's Phoenix
16 May 2004  
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Many years ago, Nottingham had trams. It had coal mines too - the first major commercial mine in the Nottingham coalfield was opened at Babbington, to the north-west of the city, as long ago as 1841. A victim of the closures following the '84/5 miners' strike, it closed in 1987. The site has since been redeveloped as "Phoenix Park"... The trams have been reborn too - a new modern tramway "Nottingham Express Transit" or "NET" opened this year from the city centre to Hucknall. The first 4km or thereabouts runs through the streets in time-honoured fashion, before joining, and running alongside, the "heavy rail" line to Hucknall and Mansfield - itself "reborn" to passenger traffic in recent years. At Highbury Vale, a branch tramway turns off, along the trackbed of the line to - Phoenix Park! Close by junction 26 on the M1, Phoenix Park tram terminus has been developed as a "Park and Ride" facility - which is exactly what we did. The Sunday service on the tramway is effectively halved from the weekday pattern, with trams from Phoenix Park and Hucknall every 30 minutes, providing a service every 15 minutes in each direction from Highbury Vale onwards. Curiously, the service splits between Wilkinson Street and The Forest, with
Geoff’s Rail Diaries
the inward workings crossing the path of the outward to head for the centre via Radford Road and Hyson Green Market, trams from the city heading out via Noel Street and Beaconsfield Street. We bought a £2 all-day ticket - excellent value - and rode straight through to Station Street, overlooking Nottingham (Midland) station, then returned to the city centre at Old Market Square, where we were able to grab a bite to eat before joining a return working to Phoenix Park. The attractive modern trams, in a smart but sober dark blue and silver livery, are a credit to the city - comfortable, very well equipped for wheelchairs and buggies, and with quite startling acceleration and top speed on the off-road sections. They provide an excellent way of visiting the city without the hassle (which I well remember from my last visit) of trying to park. The design is interesting - on three bogies, the method of articulation creates five-segment sets, presumably ensuring ample flexibility on some of the tighter curves. On this warm afternoon the trams were well patronised -  let's hope that NET have "got it right" - and that the scheme will provide impetus and encouragement for those systems that are still in the planning stage. Link:
Phoenix Park terminus - set no.202 New Station Street terminus Interior view, set no. 202 202 and 203 at Old Market Square 203 stands at Old Market Square 204 arrives at Old Market Square