Tram extension on track despite ‘unavoidable’ issues
Edinburgh’s tram extension remains on course for completion next spring despite a number of “unavoidable factors” that have forced a few changes to the schedule.
A review of completion dates has resulted in some changes affecting certain sections due to unforeseen issues such as complex utilities diversions, archaeological finds and an industry wide shortage of materials, though this is not expected to affect the final completion date for the £207.3m project.
More than 3km of track – 70% of the total – is now in the ground and the extension from York Place to Newhaven is scheduled to begin operating in spring 2023, delivered within the budget.
The main construction work on three of the eight new tram stops is also complete, while over 3km of drainage (66% of the total) and almost 4km of communications ducting (82% of the total) serving the tram and wider area has been installed.
Construction is largely finished on several key sections of the route, other than some localised works, including Constitution Street, between Constitution Place and Queen Charlotte Street, and Ocean Terminal to Rennie’s Isle.
Next week, operational tram stops on Princes Street and St Andrew Square will reopen following their temporary closure. These were closed to allow for the removal of the York Place tram stop and installation of new infrastructure there connecting the existing line to the new one. Testing and commissioning of the line will take place in the winter.
Councillor Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener, said: It’s clear that the Trams to Newhaven project is well on its way to completion, as these figures show, and before long we’ll be testing trams on the streets of Leith. Next week, we’ll also see the return of the existing service to the city centre, which I’m sure will be great news for many.
“Of course, while this project will bring significant benefits to the area, we know that its construction has impacted all those who live and work nearby, and I’d like to thank them for their patience during the last two years.
“As we enter the final year of work to deliver the tram line, we’ve had to make some changes to the programme due to issues outwith our control. I want to assure communities along the route that we’re doing everything we can to mitigate the impacts of this, and that we’re still on track to begin providing the service by spring next year.”
Councillor Karen Doran, Transport and Environment Vice Convener, said: “This project will be transformative for the north of the city and it’s really exciting to see it take shape already.
“Once complete, it will play a key role in the future growth and development of the city. Delivering the tram line to Leith will unlock a large area of the city for housing and economic development, while providing a low-carbon, clean mode of transport to densely populated communities.”
The project team is working to mitigate the impact of changes to the programme, ensuring the scheduled spring completion date is met. Based on lessons from the first tram line, and best practice from other major European construction projects, Trams to Newhaven focuses on large work sites, providing the flexibility to continue construction elsewhere on-site if issues are encountered.
In the coming months, localised works will continue on completed sections to resolve defects, carry out landscaping, install equipment to support the new tram line including tram communication systems, complete tram stop fit-outs and install overhead line equipment, street lighting and traffic signalling.
Since 2019 the project has provided significant support to businesses through its £2.4m Support for Business initiative. As part of this more than £100k has been spent on an ‘Open for Business’ campaign, 60k deliveries have gone through dedicated logistics hubs and 140 applications have been made to the business continuity fund. In addition, the extremely popular itison scheme has seen over 20k vouchers sold, generating £200k spend in participating businesses.
• 90% of utility diversions complete
• Substation at Melrose Drive complete and fit-out ongoing
• Lindsay Road retaining walls complete
• All track crossovers, which allow the tram to turn back on itself, installed
• Constitution Street wall rebuilt following archaeological excavations
• Archaeological excavations on Constitution Street complete, which saw more than 360 bodies exhumed, dating from between 1300 and 1650, as well as finding the apparent remnants of the original medieval graveyard wall