The Trouble with Nottingham Trams @nettram

When they extended the Nottingham Tram to Toton and Clifton I was a supporter of the idea.  I like the idea of catching the tram into town. You can park your car and ride in. Like the train you know where the stops are but unlike the train, you don’t need a timetable as the service runs every few minutes. I also like the fact that you can get a discount by using one of the contactless travel cards and you don’t need to queue at the machine to buy a ticket.

I don’t use the tram on a daily basis but I probably use it two or three times a month. My experience of using the tram is the reliability is rubbish and leaves much room for improvement. In the last two months, fifty percent of my journeys have been disrupted. Perhaps one reason for so much disruption due to medical emergencies is that there is only a driver on the train. The design of the network features very little redundancy and a blockage on a route soon has an impact (especially since so much of the route is shared with other traffic)

The worse thing about the delays on the line is the total ineffectiveness of the NET Tram operator to cope with it. When a train doesn’t run a replacement bus service is commissioned with the same destination. When a bus service has an issue it can be routed around the problem. When a tram doesn’t run you are told to hop on a bus and from that point on you are on your own (with no knowledge of the bus timetables, routes or bus stops)

Today I found myself at QMC hospital with a service delay. The departure board appeared to be operating a random number generator as the time to the next tram went up and down as the travellers on the platform waited anxiously for an update (there was a tiny scrolling message at the bottom of the screen but nothing to indicate it would be a problem further down the line here at QMC).

I checked the tram website but it hides the delays/updates information on a tiny bar on the homepage so I missed it. This isn’t good for a mobile site – NET pass this information to your web designers – a menu option would be handy.

Perhaps the worst thing is the social media people telling people to catch specific bus services with little other guidance. Where do these buses go? I’d just tapped my Mango card on the reader – would I have to pay twice? How could I get back to my car at the park and ride car park? Whilst the social media team ignore customer queries, they do find time to respond to positive comments left by customers (which makes you wonder why there are there?)

My faith and confidence in the tram has been further shaken and I’m not alone.  Speaking to others who commute into Nottingham many of them chose to pay more and drive in because doing so is more reliable than the tram. I do hope NET manage to find a solution to their poor reliability if they are to expand and take more cars off the road.

 

Cauda equina update – final edition (hopefully!)

Four years ago I’d had one of those life-changing events that you read about on Facebook.  I’d just undergone emergency surgery for cauda equina – one of my discs had slipped out of place in my spine and was crushing my spinal cord. Fortunately it was caught early and I was rushed in for emergency surgery.

After a week in Derby Royal Hospital, I was discharged from hospital and began the slow rehabilitation back to normality.  Walking was the first battle I won, with nerve damage to the muscles/skin down the back of my legs I had to walk with a stick. A large patient German Shepherd got me walking again and whilst I have reduced sensation down the back of my legs/feet I walk miles, the same as before my condition started.

The second big change was learning to self-catheterise.  The first few times I did this I felt like I was going to pass out (if you’ve seen the length of a male catheter you might appreciate why!) but I learned to do it quickly at home and at work (who had special equipment installed at work).  It’s been a year now since I was discharged from urology as my nerves had regenerated sufficiently that I no longer needed to use the catheters (saving the NHS around £1.50 per visit to the men’s room!)

I still have a rise and fall desk at work but very rarely need to use it in the upright position, and I have an amazing memory foam seat that prevents backache (and it drives me mad when anyone touches the myriad of levers on the underside of the chair as I don’t know what most of them do!)

So why the update – I still get lots of messages from people who have suffered from some kind of spinal/back trauma and either suffered cauda equina or something similar.  I know that your recovery might be slower than mine, or may take a different route but don’t give up.  Hang on in there and keep doing the things you want to, it will get better!

Follow my cauda equina history here