One of the last hurdles to overcome before the long awaited extensions of Nottingham Express Transit open to the public is set to start on Friday 31st July with news that final testing is due to commence. This period of testing will be full shadow running when the trams will run along both the Chilwell and Clifton lines to the timetable but without passengers between Nottingham Railway Station and the new termini.
Anyone familiar with other tram systems in the UK will be well aware that before passengers can be carried on new lines a full timetable of shadow operation is run to iron out any problems and to make sure that everything as it should have been and this usually lasts for several weeks. At this point in time Nottingham Express Transit are not saying when the shadow running will be finished to allow full passenger services to start – probably a case of once bitten, twice shy considering they announced the December opening well in advance and as we now know that date was nowhere near correct – but it is hoped that service will start by the end of August (although that is pure guess work on our part!)
Cllr Nick McDonald, from Nottingham City Council, said: “This is really great news because we’re very nearly there now. For people along the new lines they will, in effect, see the trams operating just as they will do when actual services start. For just a little while yet they won’t be able to get on board even though trams will pull up at the stops. It is all part of the important step of making sure the full timetable across the whole network, including line one, is working just as we expect. We’ll then get the green light and it’s all systems go.”
As part of the introduction of shadow running there will also be some minor changes to the timetable on Line One although most passengers should not see much difference as current frequencies will remain. The main changes will be slightly earlier first tram services from Hucknall (0600 instead of 0605) and Phoenix Park (0558 instead of 0604) with some other early morning and late evening alterations also introduced. This will also include later trams back to both current outer termini.
Trams running on Line One will continue to display destinations of Toton Lane and Clifton South throughout this shadow running but no passengers will be permitted to continue beyond the new temporary terminus at Nottingham Railway Station. Testing will take place seven days a week running up to every seven minutes.