Services between Shalesmoor and Middlewood were suspended after the incident, which was revealed by Supertram at around 9.30am today, while work was carried out to clear the tracks.
Serious damage had been done to the front of the Asda home groceries delivery van in the crash, with the front of the vehicle appearing crumpled, and the bonnet appearing unable to close.
There also appeared to be comparatively minor damage to the tram, with a front bumper removed.
Eyewitnesses working at a nearby car wash said there was a massive bang when the collision occurred, at the junction with Normandale Road, around 100 yards after the Langsett Primrose View tram stop.
Falah Alghannami said: “When I heard the bang it sounded like something heavy had just landed on a concrete floor.
"It looked like the tram driver was OK, and it looked like the van driver was all right too."
He said the vehicles had collided together.
Three police cars were at the scene to close the carriageway of Langsett Road which takes traffic away from the city centre.
Passengers got off the tram, which then left the scene at around 10.20am, turning round at the other end of the line.
The road remained closed while a breakdown vehicle and Supertram’s own engineering staff removed the van.
Supertram tickets were allowed to be used on Stagecoach buses in that area while the trams were suspended towards Hillsborough, stopping at Shalesmoor.