Two years down, less than two to go for Trams to Newhaven project

November 2021 marks the two year point of the start of construction works for the Trams to Newhaven project which will, unsurprisingly, see the Edinburgh Trams line extended to Newhaven. With trams still on target to start operation in spring 2023 we are now over halfway through the construction period and to mark that milestone the project team have been looking back at the progress they have already made.

It was November 2019 that the first enabling works got underway on Constitution Street and despite delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic which saw a complete 13 week shutdown of work it remains both on target and within the agreed £207.3 million budget.

Major achievements of the project includes:

  • Completion of 1087 (76%) of the know utility diversions and excavated almost 4,000 metres of road to enable the installation of tram infrastructure
  • Installation of 2400 metres of track, over half of the complete total to be laid
  • Installation of over 3000 metres of communications infrastructure – 65% of the total required
  • Installation of over 3000 metres of power ducting and over 2,500 metres of drainage infrastructure
  • Over 250,000 person hours on site
  • Installation of 200 metres of pipes that collect and store excess water from large storm events, helping to safeguard the area against flooding in the future
  • Sold £170,000 worth of itison vouchers for use in local businesses
  • Assisted over 5,700 deliveries from logistic hubs
  • Supported local initiatives through the community benefits workstream including Leith Chooses, Leith Gives and the One City Trust

Cllr Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener, said: “We are making good progress towards the delivery of Trams to Newhaven and many people have commented on the amount of track that has been laid so far. However, I do recognise the disruption this major project has caused to people living and working nearby, and that changes to the programme, which are down to issues out with our control, are likely to affect them. We’ll be working hard to share the latest information and provide support in the coming months and will continue to look at ways in which we can mitigate against some of these delays.”

“Once complete, this project 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 changes to the programme alluded to by Lesley Macinnes have been caused by not only the impact of Covid pandemic but also construction-wide material shortages and a lack of available skilled labourers. There have also been more complex utility diversions than expected at key junctions such as Jane Street, Bernard Street, McDonald Road and Tower Street.

This means that some stretches are now scheduled to take longer than originally planned which includes the Leith Walk section from London Road to Crown Street which will now not be completed until July 2022.

Cllr Karen Doran, Transport and Environment Vice Convener, concluded: “As we mark two years of the Trams to Newhaven project it’s really encouraging that we remain on track for completion in spring 2023 and within budget, despite recent challenges.  Once complete the project will transform this densely populated part of the city and I look forward to the benefits it will bring in the very near future.”

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