Test trams to York Place by December 2013

The Council has set out plans for the handover of a section of the route between Gogar and Edinburgh Park Station for testing in early October and for full route testing to take place during December.

- Tram testing Airport to Edinburgh Park Station begins w/c 6th October
- Streets clear of tram construction works by w/c 19th October
- Tram testing Airport to York Place begins w/c 9th December 2013
- Full tram service forecast to run by May 2014

The Council’s project team has forecast that the service will be up and running for passengers by May 2014, two months sooner than the original summer 2014 target.

The city centre will be clear of tram civil engineering works by October with Haymarket (Dalry Road to Manor Place) now set to reopen to traffic around 12th October and Shandwick Place crescents to open around 19th October. The return of traffic to the West End and Haymarket follows the early reopening of York Place in early September, St Andrew Square in April and Princes Street at the end of 2012.

Transport Convener Lesley Hinds said: 

“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.”

Transport Minister Keith Brown said:

“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 testing phase between the Gogar depot and Edinburgh Park Station and subsequent full route testing will see in excess of 150 tram test journeys per day (five day week) travel along the line. The tram route to Edinburgh park crosses South Gyle Broadway and Lochside Avenue and the Council will be working with Edinburgh Trams to ensure that businesses, residents and commuters know what to expect.

Ahead of December a city-wide safety and awareness campaign will be launched as trams will be running through the city centre.

The completion of the track and road works between Haymarket and Shandwick Place will mean that that the vast majority of tram infrastructure is now in place in the city centre.  However, localised planned works may occasionally impact on traffic flows until the beginning of the tram’s testing and commissioning phase.

The project remains in line with the revised budget (£776m) approved by the Council in September 2011, with work either ahead of schedule or in line with the revised timescale reported in December 2011.

Last month the Council set out plans to create a new organisation, Transport for Edinburgh, to integrate transport services in the Capital.  Transport for Edinburgh will be set up initially to integrate the tram and bus services, with Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams confirmed as the operators.

The latest update was contained in a report to Council that will be considered on Thursday 26th September.  A further progress report will be made to Council in January 2014 providing the completion target date for the Infraco and CAF contract and reporting on the Edinburgh Trams target for the start of revenue service.

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