Thursday, 12 April 2018
The Grand Tour (eight)
N E T is Neat (1)
fbb and chum David arrived by train after a brief but VERY disappointing visit to Sheffield. With and evening meals booked back at Groby (Leicester) for 1930, there was insufficient time to "do" the whole network. fbb had travelled the original lines ...
... not long after opening whilst David had parked and ridden from Phoenix Park when attending some theatrical "do" in the centre of the city. So on of the two newer lines made an ideal choice.
The route to Clifton South seemed to offer more variety of tramway experience, so that was the choice. Knowing that there is a tram station literally above the roof of the railway station made the connection a doddle and a half. But please don't rely on Notwork Rail's station information ...
... as it is out of date and useless, showing the route to the tram as closed! It isn't.
Access is will signposted and the collection of creakies were soon at the tram stop.
At this stage the intrepid explorers had no printed timetable, but such delights are readily available; one being collected from the first tram.
But it was clear from all that was written about the system that trams were "frequent".
The service operates as two "routes", from Hucknall to Toton Lane (GREEN) and the other from Phoenix Park to Clifton South (PURPLE).
At peak times (and all-day Saturday is "peak") each route runs every 7 minutes which gives a tram almost every three minutes between David Lane through the city centre and to the station.
Very impressive, especially when compared with Sheffield where Stagecoach has reduced the frequency on each of he two main routes from every 10 to every 12 minutes. The common section from City to Hillsborough thus manages a paltry 6 minute frequency.
But the big challenge at Nottingham was to cope with the fares system. Fortunately fbb had delved deep into the interwebnet and worked out that he had to buy before boarding. OK? He also managed to work out that, although his OAP card would not give him free travel (it DOES in Sheffield!) he could buy a day return at reduced price.
But no amount of advance reading could prepare him for the complexity of the machines.
For a novice, there were just too many options.
It is good that fbb was pre-prepared, because the OAP day return ticket button was not at all obvious, being below the main display. (The picture above was found on-line - the screens last Friday were even more challenging.)
But, after some nervous peering and a positive prod, the appropriate bit of paper appeared somewhere in the machine and fbb and chum were ready to set off.
There seemed to be no means of registering which return journey was being made, so only honesty would prevent the ticket being used as a day rover! There were dire warning of an instant £50 fine for fraudulent travel, but ...
The first (northern) section opened in 2004 and the second phase started in 2015.
The system started with fifteen Incentro AT6/5 trams, similar to those used on the Nantes tramway, built by Bombardier Transportation (formerly Adtranz) in Derby.
They were named after famous local people. In preparation for the Phase Two extensions to Beeston and Clifton, 22 new Alstom Citadis 302 trams had been ordered.
The impression given to an interested non-resident (i.e. fbb) is that the Nottingham system provides a much bigger and better network relative to the size of the city than any of the other "new" systems in the UK.
How Nottingham has achieved this when other conurbations struggle with development is not altogether clear. A good financial and funding model, good management and supportive politics seem to be the answer and there is a keenness to expand even further. Many options will be considered, but, realistically, they are all "aspirational" at the moment.
Hucknall to Linby.
Phoenix Park to Kimberley and/or Watnall
Nottingham to West Bridgford and then
Queen's Medical Centre to Arnold, via Basford.
Nottingham to Gedling.
Nottingham to Gamston.
Chilwell to Ilkeston.
Clifton to East Midlands Parkway or East Midlands Airport.
Chilwell to Stapleford town centre and/or Sandiacre.
But tomorrow, we will enjoy the ride to Clifton and back.
Next N E T blog : Friday 13th April