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Nottingham tram reliability at lowest ever, but two major city tragedies contributed

Nottingham’s tram network bosses say they are confident services will become more dependable after a series of incidents led to the lowest-ever reliability rating.

The reliability and punctuality of the NET tram network during a two-month period beginning June 2023 to the end of July 2023 was 91.3 per cent and 91.4 per cent respectively.

During a meeting at Nottingham City Council’s Loxley House HQ on Tuesday, September 12, the adverse performance was discussed.

The low reliability rating has been put down to a number of “serious incidents”, including the June 13 attacks and failing communications in July.

Trevor Stocker, head of operations, said: “Certainly over this whole year in fact we’ve seen significant issues affect the tram network.

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“I want to reassure the committee we are working hard on making sure we have got a safe and resilient network despite these things happening.

“We are putting every effort into making sure the best service is available to our customers.”

On June 12 a points issue caused a tram to derail and crash with an overhead line pole on its approach to Bulwell tram stop.

The tram that was involved remains unavailable for use despite the incident happening in June due to the need for “significant repairs”.

In total 37 trams operate on the entire network, and 34 must be fully-operational at any one time to run a robust service.

“We don’t have an infinite number so that is a tram that is not available to us to be able to deliver services to customers,” Mr Stocker added.

On June 13, Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar, who were both 19 and students from the University of Nottingham, were killed alongside Ian Coates in a series of attacks in the early hours of the morning.

Only 10 per cent of services were available to run on the day due to the emergency services response in the city.

A few days later on June 16 a man was stabbed on a tram at Highbury Vale, prompting further issues with performance.

“It is important to note once we were able to run through, this tram remained unavailable to us for a number of days afterwards for a police investigation,” Mr Stocker said.

“It required extensive, specialist cleaning. So again, with these things, once we have been able to start running through again there has been a further impact to that reliability because these vehicles have not been available.”

Further issues were also caused by a total loss of radio communications, which resulted in the complete suspension of services, in an incident on July 2.

The Nottingham Express Transit (NET) network is operated and maintained by a partnership of companies including Keolis and its subsidiary Nottingham Trams Limited (NTL).

This group of companies, or consortium, is known as Tramlink.

Tramlink’s chief operating officer, Andrew Conroy, said the service is “as good as it has always been” if the external problems are removed.

He said 16 to 17 additional tram drivers have been recruited, which he says is “more than we have ever had”.

“I’ve seen nothing but improvements in the last 12 months,” he added.

“I’ve got the utmost faith and confidence in the existing management team at NTL to get us through these difficult times we are having.”

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