In Pictures: Flooding stops trams in Nottingham

The new year is only a few days old but the weather has already caused numerous issues to UK tram networks. Whilst Blackpool was hit by a delay to the service on New Year’s Day after overhead line damage, in Nottingham it was a more serious and lengthy disruption with severe flooding at Wilford Lane leading to the suspension of through services on the Clifton South line.

The area where the Nottingham Express Transit line to Clifton Lane crosses over Wilford Lane (just to the south of the stop of the same name) has long seen issues with flooding, going back over many years pre-dating the construction of the tramway (when the level of the River Trent is high there is nowhere for rain water to drain). In the days when the Great Central Railway used this alignment it was raised above the road surface and ran on a bridge over the road so the regular flooding here was not an issue to services. However, the tram line does run at road level and so when there is flooding it causes problems for trams to make their way beyond the stop.

With yet another named storm hitting the UK at the start of January 2024 (up to the letter H now!) and bringing heavy rain, NET started to suffer from early on Wednesday 3rd January with trams suspended beyond Wilford Lane. Fortunately, in a sense of foresight the previous evening when the flood was starting to develop it had been decided to leave a tram stabled at Clifton South to allow a shuttle service to run on the southern part of the line so it wasn’t completely suspended.

From early on 3rd January 2024, services from Phoenix Park ran as normal as far as Wilford Lane where they terminated. They then returned to Phoenix Park using the crossover to the north of Wilford Lane (on the way to Wilford Village) to regain the correct track. Meanwhile, the other part of the line saw a shuttle service running between Clifton South and Southchurch Drive North. The stops at Compton Acres and Ruddington Lane were not served by trams. As is expected there was ticket acceptance on local bus services with tram tickets able to be used on NCT Navy Line services.

This service disruption continued into Thursday 4th January 2024 but whilst the hope would have been by this time that the flood waters were subsiding the opposite was true with the amount of surface work increasing. The level of water was so severe Wilford Lane itself was closed to through traffic (except for those who decided to move barriers to risk it, and then becoming stuck as a result). Further areas of water were also noted on the line and with NET reporting that equipment was damaged as a result of this water services between Nottingham Station and Wilford Lane were subsequently abandoned. Instead trams from Phoenix Park were diverted to run to Beeston Centre. The shuttle service continued in place.

There is no indication of just when services may resume with Nottinghamshire County Council having declared a major incident due to the high level of the River Trent.

Looking towards Wilford Lane stop with the flood in the foreground showing just why trams could not run through the area.

231 stands at the tramstop. The extent of the flood water can be seen in front across Wilford Lane itself and continuing onto the tramway alignment. (Photographs x2 by John Whittingham, 3rd January 2024)

The next day and deeper floodwaters were noted. 233 is at the Wilford Lane platform and there is no way forward for it towards Clifton South.

The water is now encroaching into the tramstop. This is 221 as we look away from the stop showing the worst of the floodwaters.

The driver of 221 operates the points to the crossover between Wilford Lane and Wilford Village. Ahead more water is now seen congregating on the track.

221 demonstrates the unusual destination display of Wilford Village for us. By this time trams had been switched to only run this far in service and not Wilford Lane.

This is 231 using the Wilford crossover as it prepares to head back to Phoenix Park.

After 231 has used the crossover, 219 waits to perform the same maneouvre. (Photographs x6 by John Whittingham, 4th January 2023)

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