Tram operator slumps to £20m loss

The company that operates Nottingham Express Transit (NET) has posted losses of £20.4m after passenger volumes failed to recover to pre-pandemic levels – despite what it described as a “substantial increase” in demand.

Tramlink Nottingham Limited’s annual accounts, published on Friday (31 March), show the long-lasting impact the pandemic has had on the company’s coffers. While the £20m-plus loss is marginally lower than the £21.9m shortfall the operator posted in 2021, 20% fewer passengers were using the tram network in 2022 compared to pre-pandemic volumes.

The year to March 2022 saw passenger journeys recover to 9.1m, compared to 3.4m in prior years, with the figure rising to 13.5m by the end of the year.

But there is work to be done before a full recovery becomes a realistic prospect. The firm said it would liaise with the Department for Transport and Nottingham City Council to help it adapt its operations for the post-COVID economy.

Tim Hesketh, CEO of Tramlink said: “We remain in such difficult times, thanks to the longstanding effects of the pandemic, the current economic climate and the ongoing high energy costs which are posing some real challenges to our operations. It’s clear the world is a much different place now than just three years ago, and we’re committed to doing all we can to keep up with those changes.

“Nottingham remains committed to its green ambitions and our trams have played a key part in helping the city reach those goals. No one can be certain what the next few years will bring, but we’re confident the trams will continue to be an integral part of everyday life here in Nottingham. We’d like to thank all our staff, partners and loyal customers for all their support over the past year.”

The concession which allows Tramlink to run the NET tram system runs until 2034. It factors in losses made in previous years that came about due to investments in the system, including the expansion of the tram network in 2015 and the purchase of new vehicles.

The company said this year’s loss was “in line” with expectations.