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Nottingham express transit: Phase Two gets underway

Posted: 25 April 2012 | Councillor Jane Urquhart, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transportation, Nottingham City Council | No comments yet

NET Phase Two is the name for the planned expansion of Nottingham’s tram system, NET Line One, with two new lines to Clifton via Wilford and to Beeston via the QMC and Chilwell, otherwise known as Lines 2 and 3.
Background

Construction on the new tram lines began in early-2012, and the extended system is expected to be complete and operational by the end of 2014.

The £570 million project will see the network extended to the south and south west, increasing the size of the system by approximately 10.5 miles (17.5km). When finished, it is estimated that the number of passenger journeys will rise from 9-10 million a year to more than 20 million a year.

The idea of reintroducing trams to Nottingham was first suggested in the 1970s, but it wasn’t until 1988 that Nottingham Development Enterprise (NDE) put forward a concrete proposal arguing for a modern light transit system in order to boost the local economy and tackle traffic congestion.

NET Phase Two is the name for the planned expansion of Nottingham’s tram system, NET Line One, with two new lines to Clifton via Wilford and to Beeston via the QMC and Chilwell, otherwise known as Lines 2 and 3. BackgroundConstruction on the new tram lines began in early-2012, and the extended system is expected to be complete and operational by the end of 2014.The £570 million project will see the network extended to the south and south west, increasing the size of the system by approximately 10.5 miles (17.5km). When finished, it is estimated that the number of passenger journeys will rise from 9-10 million a year to more than 20 million a year.The idea of reintroducing trams to Nottingham was first suggested in the 1970s, but it wasn’t until 1988 that Nottingham Development Enterprise (NDE) put forward a concrete proposal arguing for a modern light transit system in order to boost the local economy and tackle traffic congestion.

NET Phase Two is the name for the planned expansion of Nottingham’s tram system, NET Line One, with two new lines to Clifton via Wilford and to Beeston via the QMC and Chilwell, otherwise known as Lines 2 and 3.

Background

Construction on the new tram lines began in early-2012, and the extended system is expected to be complete and operational by the end of 2014.

The £570 million project will see the network extended to the south and south west, increasing the size of the system by approximately 10.5 miles (17.5km). When finished, it is estimated that the number of passenger journeys will rise from 9-10 million a year to more than 20 million a year.

The idea of reintroducing trams to Nottingham was first suggested in the 1970s, but it wasn’t until 1988 that Nottingham Development Enterprise (NDE) put forward a concrete proposal arguing for a modern light transit system in order to boost the local economy and tackle traffic congestion.

After researching possible routes, a nine mile-long (14.5km) line from Nottingham City Centre to Hucknall in the north was proposed, with the possibility of future extensions.

The project was approved through a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) funding scheme. At £200 million, it was one of the largest and most innovative PFI projects in the UK at the time.

While, under PFI, the project would be built, operated and maintained by private companies, it would be promoted and overseen by local authorities Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council.

NET Line One was designed, built and funded by Arrow Light Rail Limited, a specially formed company comprised of Nottingham City Transport, Bombardier, Transdev, Carillion, Galaxy and Innisfree. Arrow Light Rail was awarded the contract to run NET Line One in 2000.

NET Line One opened in March 2004 and has proved popular with passengers, with customer surveys consistently showing satisfaction ratings of more than 90%.

It has proved popular with the Government too; Nottingham’s system has been held up in parliament as a benchmark for other tram projects to aspire to, and has won a number of awards, such as Best Operational Transport Project and Public Private Partnership Achievement of the Year.

Nottingham City Council has also won Local Transport Authority of the Year and a green flag for excellence in public transport, due in no small part to the success of NET.

While NET Line One was being built, possible routes for NET Phase Two were considered. After years of design development and public consultation, in 2006 NET Phase Two was awarded Programme Entry Approval by National Government, and the councils (Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council) applied for planning per – mission in 2007.

Public Inquiries into the two new planned lines were held in 2007 and 2008, before NET Phase Two was approved in 2009. Following a change of political administration at Nottinghamshire County Council, Nottingham City Council became sole promoter of the project. The scheme was given Government backing as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) in October 2010.

Prior to the bidding phase the promoter (Nottingham City Council) undertook more detailed design of the scheme, which was provided to the bidders and enabled them to offer fixed prices with more certainty that represented overall better value for money. This advance design addressed some of the key risk areas such as getting some third party consents without constraining the private sector from developing innovate solutions and adding value.

Two consortia of companies, Arrow Connect and Tramlink Nottingham, made bids to finance, design, build, operate and maintain NET Phase Two in 2011, as well as take over the existing network (NET Line One).

Arrow Connect was made up of Nottingham City Transport, Bombardier, Transdev, Volker Rail, and FCC, as well as investment and advisor companies, while Tramlink Nottingham included Trent Barton, Taylor Woodrow (the UK arm of Vinci), Alstom, Keolis, and other investment and advisor groups.

Tramlink Nottingham was selected as the preferred bidder before it was officially awarded the contract in December 2011, and the existing concession for NET Line One with Arrow Light Rail ended. Due to the advance design undertaken, it was possible for construction and delivery of the two new lines to begin quickly following the procurement process.

Long-term benefits

NET Phase Two will serve key employment sites such as the Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC), the University of Nottingham and the NG2 Business Park, as well as many other destinations, providing access to 1,800 workplaces to which around 55,000 employees commute. Twenty of the 30 largest employers in Greater Nottingham will be within 800 metres of a tram stop.

The expanded system will be fully inte grated with the ongoing redevelopment of Nottingham Railway Station, with improved connections between trams, trains and better facilities for cyclists, parking, taxis and pedestrians.

When completed, NET Phase Two is predicted to reduce the growth of peak time car journeys (to and from all central area locations) by a third by 2021.

The system will provide valuable infra – structure and will also act as a catalyst for jobs and investment; The Centre for Economic and Business Research estimates that NET Phase Two could generate between 4,000 and 10,000 jobs in the Greater Nottingham area.

The expanded network will create an extra 2,400 Park and Ride spaces served by the tram, making over 5,000 in total. It will play a key role in local transport plan objectives for tackling congestion and providing a modern, sustainable integrated transport system.

In simple economic terms, when all the various benefits of the system are compared to its cost, NET Phase Two will give an estimated overall long-term benefit to the local area of £680 million. Its aim is to reduce traffic congestion and improve accessibility through increased quality, choice, frequency and capacity. It will also boost inward investment by creating thousands of new jobs and contracts for local suppliers.

Together with bus improvements, railway station improvements and anti congestion measures, NET Phase Two is predicted to reduce the number of car journeys in Greater Nottingham by 2.5 million by 2015.

The vehicles

The 15 trams built for Line One, constructed by Bombardier, are 33m-long, 3.35m-tall and 2.45m-wide Incentro vehicles, made up of five articulated sections. They have a maximum capacity of 190 each (64 seated) and a maximum speed of 50mph (80kph).

Each tram has been fitted with electro – magnetic regenerative braking and wide sliding doors to cater for people with mobility problems, pushchairs or those that need wheelchairs.

The new trams produced for NET Phase Two will be constructed by Alstom, and will increase the current fleet from 15 to 37 in total. They are similar in dimensions and appearance to the Incentro vehicles, and have a well proven record of reliability, as around 1,600 of the proposed trams are in use on systems across the world.

The new trams will feature in-vehicle electronic passenger information, showing route maps, next stops, interchanges, and surveillance displays. Integrated public transport information will also be displayed at tram stop ticket machines.

Construction

For NET Line One the track was laid and fixed by hand, however for NET Phase Two a mechanised track laying system will be used, speeding up production rates and reducing disruption times. At the same time that the new tracks are being laid, high-speed Ultraband next generation access connection cables will be installed for a key part of the upgrade for internet connection capability around Nottingham.

Tram stops and service frequency

Once the two new lines are completed, the number of tram stops will increase from 23 to 50 in total. The service frequency will increase from six to eight trams per hour on each route.

CEEQUAL

NET Phase Two is aiming for an excellent CEEQUAL (Civil Engineering Environmental Quality assessment) standard for improving sustainability in civil engineering and infrastructure by measures such as introducing solar panels on the roof of the Wilkinson Street tram depot.

Running through the heart of Nottingham City Centre, the extended tram system will feature an iconic 60 metre arch bridge going over the A52 trunk road and a 100m-long bridge over the railway station. There will be Park and Ride sites serving all routes into Nottingham from the three M1 motorway junctions (24-26).

Network security will be improved, with a dedicated Park and Ride security control centre, based at Clifton. Many of Nottingham’s parking sites already have a Parkmark award for safety; our aim is to have one for every car park in the city.

Funding

NET Phase Two was approved by Central Government under the condition that a proportion of the funding is found locally. NET Phase Two will be funded by Nottingham City Council, the Government, and through a combination of tram fare revenue and a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) arrangement over the life of the concession.

The Department for Transport will provide £371 million of the total £570 million (net present value) cost through the PFI arrange – ment, with the remaining funding coming from Nottingham City Council, mainly through the Workplace Parking Levy (WPL). The WPL is a charge on employers based in the city that provide 11 or more workplace parking places for employees.

Commitment

Nottingham City Council is fully committed to backing the tram project and giving consistent support over the many years of development work it has taken for NET Phase Two to become a reality.

The long planning and development period is over, and soon Nottingham will have one of the most extensive light-rail networks in the country, putting it in a good position for the challenges of the future.

 

About the author

Councillor Jane Urquhart is Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transportation at Nottingham City Council, and has been a councillor for 12 years; she also works for Nottingham Probation Service. In 2010 she received an award for Out – standing Contribution to Local Transport at the National Transport Awards.

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