The latest progress report on the project to return trams to Edinburgh has recently been presented to the Council and it contains some good news with work now either on the revised schedule or, in some cases, actually ahead of it! The report also shows that the project remains on the latest budget and that there seems to be nothing to stop the line between the Airport and City Centre opening by summer 2014.
The key points of the project which have progressed in recent months are:
- The Mound and Princes Street (Lothian Road to St Andrew Street) works were delivered ahead of schedule
- The opening of the remainder of Princes Street at Waverley Steps was delivered on 15th September 2012 – again ahead of schedule
- Deck construction works are underway on bridges at South Gyle, Balgreen Road and Water of Leith
- Installation of the overhead line equipment is progressing well
- Track laying is also making good progress
- Utility works are now underway in York Place
The report also states that 24 of the 27 trams have now arrived at the depot in Gogar (which was handed over to the Council in December 2011) with the remaining three expected to have arrived by the end of this year. It has not yet been possible to find any takers for the surplus trams but efforts will continue to see if there is any system out there who wish to take on some of the CAF vehicles. As for those trams which have already been delivered it is planned that test running between Gogar and the Airport will commence before this year is over – plans for this will be announced in due course.
It is planned that enough of the construction works will have been completed to allow for full test running of the trams between Edinburgh Airport and York Place by early 2014. This is dependent on the weather conditions being conducive to allow the current rate of construction works to continue so that the schedule can still be adhered to. Passenger services are still anticipated to commence in summer 2014 although the report does say that “every effort is being made to improve upon that.”
As far as the budget is concerned the project remains within the revised budget of £776 million and it is envisaged that this will remain so although risks such as adverse weather conditions may cause issues with this.
Speaking about the report, Transport Convener at the Council, Cllr Lesley Hinds, said: “This positive update demonstrates once again the excellent progress that has been made since the revised programme began. The tram is Scotland’s second largest infrastructure project and, as everyone knows, there have been a number of challenges to overcome. However, I’m very pleased that we are continuing to move in the right direction. It’s vital that we build on this progress and, where we can, aim to complete works early. We understand the huge importance of Christmas to retailers so steps are being taken to try to improve access for shoppers by fully opening Princes Street and improving pedestrian
access around St Andrew Square and Shandwick Place. We’ll continue to listen to local businesses and residents and we’ll use their feedback to minimise disruption wherever possible.”
* The full Council report – which includes photos of recent progress – can be
downloaded at http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/download/meetings/id/36955/item_82_edinburgh_tram_project-update
* A new promotional video has also recently been released. This can be found at http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/trams