The first line of Nottingham's new tram system comprises a 'mainline' with a short branch. The mainline runs from Station Street (for Nottingham railway station) to Hucknall, a town just to the north of Nottingham, while the branch runs from a junction at Highbury Vale to Phoenix Park, a Park & Ride site in the city's outer suburbs.
The mainline includes extensive street running but also incorporates a former railway viaduct (partially rebuilt) in the city centre and also part of an existing railway formation alongside the Robin Hood Line between Basford and Hucknall. The branch to Phoenix Park runs along the line of the former Cinderhill Colliery branch.
Station Street stop is on a brick-built former railway viaduct. This viaduct once carried the Great Central Railway on its way to Nottingham Victoria station (now long closed), and originally continued south over Nottingham Midland station. Now, however, it stops short at the north side of Station Street itself, and remains intact only as far as the south side of Canal Street. From here the viaduct has been replaced with a new concrete structure which takes the tram line toward Weekday Cross. As the viaduct reaches the same level as Middle Hill (itself on a viaduct), the new tram viaduct veers left for the start of the street-running section to Wilkinson Street. North from here the old brick viaduct can been seen again, running up to the disused tunnels which lead to the site of Victoria Station.
The tram meanwhile continues up Middle Hill, sharing the street with other traffic, until reaching Lace Market stop.
After leaving Lace Market, the line curves sharply to the left (west) and drops down into Old Market Square, where the tram stop sits next to the Council House. After skirting the west side of the square, the line runs up Market Street, crossing the busy Upper Parliament Street, to a segregated stop at Royal Centre.
The line continues up Goldsmith Street, with a segregated stop at Nottingham Trent University, and then up Waverley Street to a stop at Nottingham High School which is on a shared street section. From here the line crosses Forest Road and drops down to the Park & Ride stop at The Forest. This is the site of the city's annual Goose Fair—the largest non-fixed fair in the country.
LeavingThe Forest, the line crosses Gregory Boulevarde and enters the Hyson Green loop. Northbound trams travel the length of Noel Street, which is partly open to other traffic. There are stops at Noel Street and Beaconsfield Street. The line then curves left (west), with a short section of segragated running at the edge of a small park, to reach Shipstone Street stop. The final section of street running takes the line over Radford Road and past the depot into Wilkinson Street stop.
Southbound trams diverge from the northbound route just after the depot junction, and join the busy Radford Road. This is the main shopping street in Hyson Green, and there were concerns from the local traders that the trams would ruin their businesses. There are stops at Radford Road and Hyson Green Market, which is near the main shopping area. On leaving this stop the trams curve left (east) along Terrace Street to meet the northbound track and travel to The Forest.
From Wilkinson Street the line crosses the Robin Hood Line on the road bridge, before curving right (north) and dropping down to join the railway alignment. This is the recently-repoened railway line which connects Nottingham to Hucknall, Mansfield and Worksop. The tram line runs next to railway line through Basford and David Lane stops to Highbury Vale.
This is also known as Babbington Junction, and is where the Midland Railway's line to Cinderhill Colliery once branched off. The tram line has two separate island platforms here, one for the mainline to Hucknall, and one for the branch to Phoenix Park.
As the branch line leaves Highbury Vale it narrows to single track, following the alignment of the colliery branch through the single platform at Cinderhill, which lies in a cutting. Outside this stop, at street level, are more reminders of the coal-mining past of the area—a pub called The Headstocks, and a filled-in bridge which once carried the road over another colliery railway.
After Cinderhill, the line travels under an old railway bridge, and then climbs to the right. The area here has been extensively remodelled, and past this last bridge there is no trace of the former Cinderhill Colliery. The line travels alongside Millenium Way East, across three road crossings in quick succession (two of them traffic ligh controlled, the third leading to a dead end). The single tram line terminates at a two-platform stop at Phoenix Park, where the trams have taken over from buses at an established Park & Ride site.
North of Highbury Vale, the tram line continues to follow the alignment of the Robin Hood Line. After Bulwell, the line is single track, with passing loops at each of the stops (Bulwell Forest, Moor Bridge (the city boundary) and Butler's Hill) to Hucknall. At Hucknall there is an existing railway station, and the trams' two platforms have been built on part of the station's car park.
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