After last weeks initial tests of trams on the section of the Edinburgh Tramway between Gogar Depot and the Airport at walking pace and then further testing at higher speeds, Wednesday 19th December has seen the first tests of a tram at full line speed. Full line speed is 70kmh (43 mph). Both City of Edinburgh Council Transport Convener Lesley Hinds and Scottish Government Transport Minister Keith Brown were present to see history made and were pleased with what they saw.
Testing on this stretch of track will now continue until March when it is planned that the 2.8km section will be handed over from the contractors to the Council, thus becoming the first part of the tramway to be officially completed and ready for use (although it will not, along with the remainder of the tramway, be running in revenue earning service until 2014 as per the revised schedule).
Cllr Hinds commented: “It’s hugely encouraging to see an Edinburgh tram running at full pace and it’s a tangible sign of just how far this project has come since mediation last year. Much progress has been made in 2012 with bridges built, tram stops completed, miles of track laid and, most importantly, the project remains on track to hit the revised budget and timeframe. On-street works in the city centre will continue next year of course, but we are doing everything possible to limit disruption. Our team will stay in close contact with residents and businesses so they have the information they need to limit the impact of the works. We are now nearing later stages of this most challenging of projects. I want to assure people that every last element of it is being closely managed by the project team -everyone involved is ready for this next crucial year as we drive hard towards completion.”
Keith Brown added: “The good progress made since the contractual disputes were resolved last year is now hopefully clear for all to see. While the project has caused disruption for some people in Edinburgh, their patience is starting to pay off. I was heartened today to see the project taking shape, and Transport Scotland is now playing a key role in overseeing the delivery. It will also bring major benefits for the rest of Scotland’s transport network. The Airport tram stop, combined with the Edinburgh Gateway rail-tram interchange, refurbished Haymarket Station and existing station at Edinburgh Park, will provide better links and more options with the rail network, Edinburgh Airport and other key transport hubs.”
Contractors will continue working on various sites across the city under Friday 21st January and work will then take an extended Christmas break with work recommencing on Monday 7th January 2013. In the City plans are underway to reduce the sites and signage during this period.