Even more tram news…. a brief update.

Been quite a day since the news broke at 6am that the City Council believed the tram would not be up and running until somewhere in the first half of 2015. There statement also compared it to the Edinburgh tram fiasco in a ‘hey, at least we’re not that bad’. I imagine a fair few disgruntled Beestonians would add ‘..yet’ to the end of that sentence.

I’m now going to stick my head above the parapet and make a confession. I support the tram. I quite look forward to it’s arrival. I like having a big chunk of centralised money dumped into the town’s infrastructure. It’s a greener, faster, more modern mode of transport that could give a welcome boost to the town. 

Yet I find the whole construction a flawed, dishonest process. The decision to close Chilwell Road left a bad taste, so was sweetened with the promise that this would speed up the construction and reopen the road asap. That date has been put back several times, impacting on businesses immeasurably. Poor Mr Falafel: Fort Knox is easier to gain access to. 

The construction contractors are still resolute of a December 14th finish, though I’ve heard off the record they don’t expect it to be fully running until 2015. While it’s important to stress that any revised date doesn’t mean the same volume of works will be seen round Beeston: roads will be reopened and pavements rebuilt pretty soon, but the boost traders would have had, particularly on Chilwell Road, in the run up to Christmas is now missed. This is something unlikely to be compensated on: after all, the works will have finished by then. 

I’ve not been able to get through all the fall-out from this: Soubry has issued a statement demanding an emergency meeting with the City Council, but I’ve yet to examine that more, or any other political comment. It’s all broke at an awful time for me: I have the Beestonian deadline looming, the Oxjam Bake Off to help run, the Beestonian Movie at a critical stage and, well, I quite fancied watching a bit of tennis at some point. Rather bad timing. 

And not just for me. For the second time in a week I’m putting myself in the same boat as David Cameron (it’s a rather grubby dinghy). He has just announced that he would fully endorse a Nottingham-Kimberly tram route when he was on his recent trip to the Borough. The Eastwood and Kimberly Advertiser led on this story today. Soubry’s previous opposition to trams seems to have totally flip-flopped on this one, seen as a bit of a vote winner. I’ve been contacted by Kimberley councillors today who are delighted by the news, possibly the first thing Cameron has ever said that has the local Labour party endorsing. Could it be that NET’s reluctance to admit to significant delays be related to this? If they were to confirm the estimates of both Broxtowe and City councils about the Beeston line, would it damage the PM’s endorsement and the strong likelihood of trams running up to our northern neighbours?

Interesting times. Please leave your thoughts and any news you have, and keep me from closing my laptop and sticking the tennis on. 

 

 

 

EXCLUSIVE TRAM NEWS.

At last, some official notification that the tram project is delayed.

Check through my archives and you’ll see this has been predicted for a while, yet I’ve never been legally able to say it as fact. I know, you know, anyone with eyes knows that the tram is not going to be completed on time. Broxtowe Borough Council last week gave their opinion that the tramworks would never be open on-time: Beestonian’s were not exactly surprised as, despite some very immediate and positive completions of late Beeston still has huge areas of non-completion that will be ready for any significant period of snagging.

I was leaked this earlier, but haven’t had time to totally assess it’s impact. I imagine it will be significant. 

 

“Nottingham City Council is calling on Tramlink Nottingham, the concessionaire which is building and will operate the NET tram extensions, to open up parts of the new tram routes to Clifton and Chilwell, known as NET Phase Two, as soon as possible.

 This follows the announcement by Tramlink’s contractor, Taylor Woodrow Alstom, that although the most disruptive construction works will be substantially complete by the end of the summer, the new tramlines won’t fully open to the public until the first part of 2015.

 Councillor 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.“

 Councillor Urquhart went on to add: “We will work hard with the contractor to help them to complete the remaining works as swiftly as possible and to open the new lines as soon as they can, and we are now keen that Tramlink Nottingham explores whether they are able to open up parts of the expanded routes to the public sooner, rather than waiting for testing and commissioning to be completed along the entire system before opening it up to the public.

 “All the financial risk in the NET contract is placed with the concessionaire and its contractors, so the council will not pay additional costs in relation to the completion of the tram project. Together with Nottinghamshire County Council, we will of course continue to provide discretionary financial support to businesses which goes beyond the national land compensation requirements. It is important to reflect that the construction of NET Phase Two has led to hundreds of jobs being created for local people and millions of pounds worth of contracts being let to Greater Nottingham firms, with around 50% of the 1,500 strong workforce coming from the area and £86m worth of contracts awarded to local businesses.

 “It is pleasing that Taylor Woodrow Alstom has expressed the view that the delay will only be slight. Given the scale and complexity of the project, and some of the typical delays experienced in the opening of other UK systems, such as in Edinburgh, this is a relatively short delay.

 “An expanded tram network will help to attract inward investment and jobs to the city and to the areas like Beeston and Chilwell where the tram will run, and will provide regeneration opportunities along its entire route. It’s particularly pleasing to see that the start of these opportunities is already beginning even before public services start, with Beeston Town Centre attracting new retailers, benefiting from its highest ever footfall figures in the town in May, and the news only this week that the Queen’s Medical Centre – which will be the UK’s first hospital to be directly served by tram services – is planning a £10m development on its site to incorporate a brand new public entrance into the hospital where the new QMC tram stop is located.”

 

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