It has been confirmed that the Phase Two extensions of Nottingham Express Transit will not open on 14th December as previously announced with a two to three month delay likely due to a number of “challenges” encountered during the construction. There has been a significant amount of speculation in the last few weeks that the project timescales had slipped and this has now been confirmed although contractors Taylor Woodrow Alstom have said that the majority of the major construction work will be finished by the end of the summer.
In a press release it has been announced that the following has been achieved so far:
* All major structures – such as the QMC and railway station bridges – are virtually complete
* Around 95% of the utility diversion scheme has been finished
* 25 kilometres of track has been laid along the two routes
* 15 Alstom Citadis trams have been delivered
* Overhead installation is well underway
Paul Harris, Programme Director, commented: “There has been speculation recently that construction works might be unduly delayed until next year. Yes, the project has presented some challenges, but we are on target to substantially complete all key infrastructure works over the next two to three months and we are working towards handing the new lines over for passenger services in the first part of 2015. We appreciate that the work has caused disruption, but by the end of the summer the removal of all the major traffic management schemes, will be well underway. There will be some ongoing more minor works throughout the autumn, but these will be on a significantly reduced scale.”
The testing, commissioning and driver training programme on the new trams and eventually the new lines will continue to progress over the coming weeks and months. It is planned that by August the first of the Citadis trams will enter service on Phase One by August and that testing and will be rolled out onto Phase Two “over the coming weeks” when tram access over the station bridge is opened.
In response to the news Nottingham City Council called upon the new lines to be opened as soon as possible. Cllr Jane Urquhart, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transportation, said: “I’m pleased that Taylor Woodrow Alstom has reaffirmed that the major construction works which have been disruptive to traffic and local communities, will be completed by the end of the summer. It is however disappointing that they have confirmed that they will not be able to fully open tram services to Clifton and Chilwell to the public in December 2014. We acknowledge that once construction works are substantially completed, the next stage of the project, which involves testing and establishing the operational arrangements along the new routes, is a complex process which the contractor was planning to complete during December, but they have now informed us that the testing programme is likely to go beyond this point. The most important thing is that the new lines, and the associated improvements to the public realm around the new lines, open only after they have been rigorously tested to ensure that they are safe, and that the works are completed to the highest possible standard.”
The delay to the project will result some financial penalties for the construction consortium and Nottingham City Council have said that along with the County Council they will continue to provide financial support to businesses who remain affected by the works. Although it is disappointing for all concerned that the opening of the lines to Chilwell and Clifton will be delayed the delay looks set to be only for a few months and will certainly not be as late as Edinburgh was.