The final section of track has been laid in Edinburgh’s tramline extension ahead of the start of testing in the new year and discussions on the next phase of the proposed network.
Engineers finished the line at Picardy Place where the new stretch joins the old. As the project nears completion, two-way traffic will also permanently resume between Great Junction Street and Duke Street this week.
The finishing touches are being made, including removing most of the fencing and filling excavations around the lamppost columns along Leith Walk, before sites close for Christmas in line with a construction industry-wide shut down.
All main infrastructure work is now complete, including seven of the eight tram stops, with passenger services due to start in the spring.
While it was originally anticipated that two-way traffic would return to the full length of Leith Walk this week, recent freezing weather has impacted the necessary surfacing and paving works, as well as concrete supply.
As a result, two-way traffic is expected to be introduced to the length of the street in January. Vehicles can still travel in both directions between London Road and Pilrig Street and the project remains within its £207m budget and on schedule.
The milestone comes after plans emerged setting out options for a line from Granton to Crewe Toll, the city centre and then towards the Royal Infirmary and Edinburgh BioQuarter.
Potential future tram routes beyond this, included in a map published by the council, show extensions to link up with Sherrifhall park and ride, Newcraighall and Shawfair’s train stations and into Dalkeith in Midlothian.
However, expansion of the network beyond the city’s boundary is likely to be many years off, with current estimations indicating the Granton to BioQuarter line would not be open until at least 2032.
Speaking about the near-completion of the Newhaven link, Councillor Scott Arthur, Transport and Environment Convener, said: “This is a landmark moment in the Trams to Newhaven project – we now have a continuous line running from the airport to Newhaven, which will be carrying passengers in a matter of months.
“As we near completion the route is really taking shape – it will truly transform travel to the north of the city and boost the local economy.”
Progress on the Trams to Newhaven project to date includes:
100% of tram track laid (4,585 metres)
100% of overhead lines poles installed (215)
99% of communication ducting (4,579m)
95% of drainage (4,369m)