May 2014 start date for Edinburgh Trams

It has now been forecast by the Edinburgh Trams project team that the line between the city centre and Airport will be open by May 2014 – approximately two months earlier than in the last revised plan announced. The latest update from Edinburgh Trams has also revealed that trams will be able to be tested between Gogar and Edinburgh Park from early October and then full route testing will commence in December.

A major milestone is expected to be reached by the end of October with the city centre clear of tram works for the first time in six years. Haymarket is expected to reopen to traffic around 12th October and Shandwick Place crescents on 19th October.

Cllr Lesley Hinds, Transport Convener on the City of Edinburgh Council, was understandably delighted with the news: “Within weeks the city centre will be clear of tram works for the first time in six years – the end of the tram project and the beginning of a tram service are clearly in sight.  I’m pleased that the end date for the project has been brought forward but I’m very keen for it to be finished even earlier if possible.  I’ve asked that all of these timeframes are reassessed at the beginning of next year so that any further gains in progress can be factored into our plans. Our target for launch is now May 2014 but we’ll bring this forward if we can and we’ll announce a start date for the tram service when we’re 100% sure. There’s a major testing, commissioning and driver training programme to be done, work to be done on tram stops and, of course, a Scottish winter to get through. As we near the completion of the project, we are now approaching a time of real opportunity for our city.  There has been major investment in infrastructure and now we want to see transport options fully integrated as part of a system that will benefit residents and visitors while ensuring that Edinburgh is well positioned in the eyes of potential investors who can bring new jobs to our city.”

The testing phase, initially as far as Edinburgh Park from October and then the full route in December, will see in excess of 150 tram test journeys per day (five days a week). A major publicity campaign will be launched in the coming weeks and months to let local businesses and residents know that trams will be at test to raise awareness to ensure there are no accidents.

Transport Minister Keith Brown commented: “Today’s announcement further underlines this Government’s commitment to modernising transport systems across Scotland. Alongside the £500 million the Government has committed to the trams, our massive investment programme at Haymarket, Waverley, the new Gateway station, Borders and in electrification will revolutionise the rail network and public transport in central Scotland. Our record of delivery and robust project management speaks for itself. The announcement that the infrastructure works will be completed and handed over to the Council by next March will ensure they are in a position to have trams running ahead of the revised July 2014 delivery date. We will continue to work with the Council and the contractor to look at opportunities to bring the programme forward even further where at all possible. This is good news for people and business in Edinburgh and we are all looking forward to a city centre free of road works and major disruption ahead of the busy Christmas period. It puts an end to the misleading speculation over recent weeks about when the tram would be finished and provides much needed clarity to businesses to plan ahead with confidence.”

The next official progress report will be released in January 2014 and this will give more details of when the line is expected to open to the public.

Finally it looks as if there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that trams will soon be running passenger services in Edinburgh after a project which has been fraught with delays and controversy.

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3 Responses to May 2014 start date for Edinburgh Trams

  1. I’m sceptical. I only hope that Cllr Hinds is not being too optomistic; although rails/overhead are present South Gyle Broadway, there is yet no sign of any traffic light installation. The west end of Princes Street towards Haymarket requires an awful lot of work to enable restoration of normal road traffic. With cognisance of poor contractor’s work, necessitating relaying of track in various areas of the city earlier this year, will the track take the weight of the tram sets ? Only time will tell !

  2. Nigel Pennick says:

    Will Alex Salmond open the line and tell us how wonderful the trams are and what an iconic symbol of Scottish progress they are once they start running, even though he tried to have the project abandoned?

  3. Alasdfair McFarlane says:

    Nigel…………Haven’t you heard, our “all singing/all dancing” First Minister will be there driving the inaugural service tram. As the service is likely to commence before the independance referendum, he’ll do anything to get attention/votes.

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