A major visible sign that trams are to return to Edinburgh soon will appear this summer when a start is made on installing the overhead wires as well as underground cabling in the city centre. This will be the final major piece of construction work in the city centre and is due to commence in mid June once work on the road has been completed.
It is anticipated that cables will be installed on Princes Street and on St Andrew Square during a series of night shifts starting from the middle of June. To allow this work to take place the existing work sites will remain in place a little while longer to try and
minimise the amount of disruption to local residents and businesses. The first section of overhead cabling to be installed will be from York Place working westbound towards Haymarket. All overhead wiring (plus associated underground cabling) will be completed in the autumn.
Cllr Lesley Hinds, Transport Convener, said: “Good progress continues all along the tram route and we’re now approaching a stage, in the city centre, where road works are nearly finished. This will be a welcome sight to traders, residents and visitors to the area this summer. This cable installation programme is the final major piece in the construction jigsaw but it’s a significant project which requires time. Contractors will carefully hang power wires overhead at the correct tension and they’ll pull miles of power cables and communication lines through underground ducts. Once this is done we’ll be closer to the rigorous testing phase which will fully prepare the system and the people of Edinburgh Trams for service next year.”
A set of specialist road/rail vehicles will be utilised in the process of installing the overhead wires. These will draw out the wires from vehicle mounted cable drums which are then lifted to the correct height and attached to cantilevers from the overhead line poles. The wires will vary in height between 5.8m and 6.2m. Most of the overhead will be strung from overhead poles (either at the side of the street or in between the tracks) although there will also be some overhead fixed directly to buildings where poles cannot be fitted.
* Meanwhile a report in the Edinburgh Evening News has suggested that trams could be running by the end of this year. The claim was made by Vic Emery (a former chairman of Transport Initiatives Edinburgh) at the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents conference but the City of Edinburgh Council distanced themselves from his comments. Although for possibly the first time it appears that an earlier than previously thought opening date is being considered as Cllr Hinds said: “In September, we will be in a position to announce a date when the travelling public will be able to use the tram.”