Is the Nottingham Express Tram – NET – a good or a bad thing?

This question / statement  without any corroborating facts or evidence was posed on the on the Bath Trams Facebook page.  The following responses  from experts received are shown below:
Phil Howell What is the anticipated cost of setting up such a network, what is the maximum estimated charge for an adult return travel from one end of the line to the other, and the corresponding journey time? How much of the population as a % will be able to access a tram stop on foot within half a mile of their front door? I live in the Nottingham Derby conurbation and the network setup here fails all these tests and is a transport investment disaster. Coverage is appalling, it has had minimal impact on traffic, nor does it help poverty, health or provide green transport. Banning cars, converting existing buses and trains to ultra low emission and spending the money on all weather cycling superhighways would have been unequivocally better. The only winners in the scheme are the tram operators and contractor’s involved. The only thing you can say for certain is this will have minimal impact on solving your existing transport problems.”
The claimed service frequency for trams was also questioned
Around 20 million people use the Nottingham tram each year. It was designed to operate in the most congested transport corridors and has held car congestion levels to pre-tram investment levels. Trams are very environmentally friendly and unlike rubber-tyred vehicles (the Oslo effect)  do not pollute the atmosphere. They also operate through poorer neighborhoods and help the disadvantaged to get to their places of work (the Social Inclusion Case). They are fully integrated with the bus and cycle networks which means that the vast majority of residents in the Greater Nottingham area live within 800 m of either a bus or tram stop. The system operates at very high reliability levels (97%+) and the tickets are priced as more or less equivalent to bus tickets (and tickets can be used on either network). The tram network ticket revenues cover the operating and maintenance cost without subsidy. Average ticket prices are less than £2/journey if bought as season tickets. Car drivers do not have to pay for the maintenance cost of the roads other than via general taxation.Pollution levels are still higher than Euro standards and that could only be reduced dramatically by banning cars from using congested corridors. Tram car parking on the P&R sites is free. Electric buses are already in use and there is a large cycle network (indeed we had to include cycle lanes alongside the tram lines during construction). You can also hire cycles at several main tramstops.
Roger Harrison

The writer asks some factual questions. In what sense are these tests that NET fails? If you banned cars from Nottingham as he suggests the bus network could not carry all the people who need to get to work.

NET carries about 18 million passengers a year, that’s about 5 million fewer car journeys.
David Walmsley

I think you have the answer……already. All the most livable cities have extensive tram networks as part of an fully integrated mobility package.

The person posting to your face book page must be one of the few people in Nottingham who is more then 800m from a bus or tram stop.

Also people continue to base investment costs on traditional technology and as we know there are ways to maintain quality whilst reducing the costs.


CJH Multisourcing SNC


You have asked legitimate and reasonable questions. You could study the
National Audit Office Report on Trams, which came to similar conclusions
about: value for money, etc.. The question of how else can public money be
spent is a political one, and can be equally raised about the Crossrail
Project in London (£18n) that would have funded lots of safe bike and foot
paths all over the UK. Or HS2 now expected to cost about £100n, which would
build a lot of new hospitals, schools, social housing etc.

My father sailed in the Atlantic Convoys during the War and always said that
a ship cannot be steered by looking at the wake. So although publicly
promoted and funded tramways in the UK have not always given good value for
money, other countries manage it, and we might learn from them, as indeed
did the Tramlink in Croydon, which was privately funded and promoted, and
subsequently purchased by TfL. It carries 35m passengers pa, over 25% of
whom have left a car at home. Traffic in Croydon has declined by a fifth
since opening in 2000, whereas in the rest of London it has increased.

The key question is what is needed to get people who drive cars, 4 out of 5
having only the driver, to use other less congesting and environmentally
friendly travel means ? Roger Harrison has given a good account of the
Nottingham Tramway, which I visited a couple of weeks ago. Yes many urban
trips are short, typically 75% under 5miles long, a comfortable cycling
distance. Getting people to alter travel habits needs both a change in
behaviour but also an acceptable alternative. People have to travel to work,
school, shop, visit the medical and other facilities. In the medium term the
origin and destination of these trips are fixed. In the longer term people
can (& do) change jobs or move house. Research shows that if a rail service
is available this will influence the choice of location and subsequent
travel mode.

What about those who cannot cycle ? One of the good overseas examples is
Freiburg, which 20 years ago had a modal split similar to Bath, viz car 65%,
walk 18%, cycle 3%, public transport 16%. Today the figures are car 32%,
walk 18% cycle 25% and tram & bus 25%, with car trips attracted to an
expanded tram network.

The other method of public transport over looked is taxis. Many US cities
only have taxis. The biggest users of UK taxis are households in the lowest
income quartile, who cannot afford a car and use taxis, which cost more than
buses, as a car substitute. Who uses buses in Bath ? Over 90% of trips in
Bath are not on buses. So would a privately financed tramway, not a drain on
public funds operating without a subsidy be better than the existing
congestion and high levels of toxic traffic pollution. A tram service will
attract significant numbers of car trips, especially with P+R, and help Bath
breath again ?

As for fares, a lot depends on the commercial policy of the tram operator,
which could like low cost air lines have almost an infinite variety of
fares, using an ‘Oyster Card’ system, depending on time of day, amount of
travel and advance purchase. As a guide, when I did the Financial Assessment
for a Commercial Tramway in Bath, I assumed an average fare of £2 in line
with bus fares and less than taxi.

Phil keep asking the searching questions- that way the truth can only
With kind regards,
Prof. Lewis Lesley BSc, AKC, PhD, CEng, FRSA, MICE, FCIT, MTPS


Service frequency Shows buses on the Istanbul busway achieved one every 14 secs which can be easilly achieved with tram which has faster acceleration and more rapid boarding and exiting so lower dwell time

Note electric cars and buses are not the solution to polllution