In a week of completions on Nottingham Express Transit all trackwork is now in place on the Beeston and Chilwell line with a special ceremony taking place on Thursday 27th November to mark the occasion. The final bolt – which was painted gold to mark the significance – was tightened into place with local Councillor, Steve Barber, who is also the Chairman of the Greater Nottingham Planning Advisory Board, providing assistance to the engineers who have worked hard on the project over the past few years.
Programme Director at NET Phase Two contractor Taylor Woodrow Alstom, Paul Harris, was also on hand to see the significant event: “We are delighted that the last piece of track on the Beeston and Chilwell line is now firmly in place. It has been well documented that the project has been complex but this is an extremely important milestone. In total, we have laid around 20km of track between the current end of Line One at Station Street and what will be the new park and ride site at Toton – a distance of around 10km in each direction. This has involved the huge task of diverting and upgrading buried pipes and cables where the line passes through built-up areas. The project has also seen the construction of several new landmarks for the city, including impressive bridges over Nottingham Station and the A52 and a viaduct alongside the QMC. These achievements reflect the dedication, skill and hard work of the entire construction team that includes many people recruited from Nottingham and surrounding areas.”
Construction work continues on the other line of the Phase Two extensions to Clifton but it is expected that this too will be completed shortly. Then a significant period of commissioning and testing will commence which will see trams traversing the lines for the first time with night-time tests expected first off ahead of full daytime testing. As well as allowing the contractors to check that all is well with the new lines this will also enable local residents and businesses to get used to trams running on the streets.
Phil Hewitt, Chief Executive of Tramlink Nottingham, commented: “The lines have to pass extensive safety and performance tests before they open for public service and, as well as checking the new track and infrastructure, this process also includes testing all the signalling and communications systems. Tram drivers will also receive intensive training along the lines to Chilwell and Clifton, and during this period other road users can get used to trams as they are introduced in new locations.”
No date has yet been set for the opening of the expanded Nottingham Express Transit network (it was announced earlier this year that the proposed December opening was being delayed until 2015 but no specific time was given). Recently there has been speculation in the local press that passengers would not be carried until June at the earliest but an official statement from Nottingham Express Transit has denied that any date has been set. The statement reads: “We are aware of reports suggesting a specific timescale for the launch of the Phase Two network but these remain pure speculation. Construction work is nearing completion and the contractors are working to fully undertake the testing and commissioning phase as soon as possible. Some months ago we said the launch would take place during the first part of 2015 and this remains the case.”
But when the lines do open it has been confirmed that a deal has been reached where those businesses and resident s most affected by the works will be able to enjoy up to three months free travel.