Nottingham Traffic Chaos Summer 2013

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I was at the Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce Members Council meeting at the Alea Casino yesterday in Nottingham yesterday. We were listened to a presentation on “Planning for Transport infrastructure improvements” by representatives of Nottinghamshire and Nottingham City Council.

Many of us are very aware of the construction work going on around us on the new tram lines. It’s been broadcast loud and clear that work on the A453 is due to start next year: an issue very close to my heart as I endeavour to avoid it on my daily commute to and from work. We are also due to have improvements to the ring road including the dreaded Crown Island, in an effort to improve traffic flow around the City in the next couple of years.

We have also heard about the electrification of the midlands mainline throughout the East Midlands and down to St Pancras Station in London. Notably, there will also be work done to improve the track quality and remove bends and junctions which currently reduce the speed at which trains can travel on the line. Without this work, improvements in journey times will not be achievable and this becomes prohibitively expensive if the work were to be carried out after electrification. It is hoped, though not certain, that work of this nature will be carried out in Wellingborough, but it was confirmed that Leicester, Market Harborough and Nottingham stations will have improvement work done to help shave the times down.

Many delays on the route between Nottingham and destinations to the south and west, such as London and Birmingham, are caused by the track layout and signalling at the approach to Nottingham station. In order to get the necessary work done, it will be necessary to close Nottingham Station for 36 days to most traffic, except perhaps to eastern destinations such as Newark or Skegness. This is planned for the school holiday period of July and August 2013, when it is felt that the effects would be least negative. Those travelling to Nottingham by train would travel to East Midlands Parkway station and then on by bus to Nottingham.

The consensus is that this is fantastic and that, finally, after all these years of talking, these projects are going ahead. However, I’m not alone in thinking it may be too much at the same time and that there may be problems ahead. The A453 is a terrible bottle neck at the best of times, without road-works. Even though the suggestion is that the road-works on it will stop for the period when Nottingham station is closed, the additional traffic caused by coaches travelling into Nottingham from East Midlands Parkway Station is certain to add to what is already a headache.

Twice in the last couple of weeks we’ve seen severe congestion caused by accidents at junction 24 of the M1 which added an hour or more to journey times into and out of Nottingham. On a normal day, queues into Nottingham on the A453 often stretch from the Crusader Island back for 3 miles and beyond Barton-in-Fabis. Coming out of Nottingham towards the M1, queues often start before Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, which is at least a 3 mile queue.

I suppose this is the reason we all want the A453, the rail network and the Ring Road to be improved. The issue I have is the timing of all these works happening together. Can we live with much worse than normal for those 36 days next summer? I hope so, because it looks like we’ll have to!

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