Trams to Newhaven work begins on Leith Walk next month

The main phase of construction work to take the trams to Newhaven will begin on Leith Walk next month.

Construction strategy builds on lessons learned to minimise disruption

The Trams to Newhaven project team, along with the Infrastructure and Systems Contractor (Sacyr, Farrans, Neopul JV) and Swept Path Contractor (Morrison Utility Services), has drawn on lessons learned from the first stage of the project, as well as good practice from other European cities, to develop a construction strategy.

This will involve Leith Walk being reduced to one city bound lane between London Road and Crown Place for the duration of the works, which will begin on 28 March and are scheduled to be completed by Summer 2021. The team’s approach will involve the establishment of large work sites to allow both utility works and tramway construction to take place at the same time, resulting in fewer traffic management changes for those affected.

Sharing information with residents and businesses as the project progresses

Letters are being delivered to residents and businesses to share information on traffic management, bin collection arrangements, cycling access and diversions for bus services. Logistics hubs will be set up along the street to help businesses with deliveries and dispatches, as well as residents expecting large deliveries. A Support for Business package has also been devised in consultation with local businesses.

The first phase of the project is already well underway on Constitution Street, where the excavation of the road is being carried out to allow utility diversions, tracklaying and the installation of tram infrastructure.

Transport and Environment Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said: 

We are about to reach a major milestone in the project to take the trams to Newhaven, as we prepare for the main phase of works on Leith Walk. We are already progressing well with the first phase of the project on Constitution Street and the Trams to Newhaven team have been working closely with contractors and transport operators to plan this next crucial stage. We will continue to engage with residents and businesses to keep them up-to-speed with plans as the project progresses.

Transport and Environment Vice Convener Councillor Karen Doran said: 

This is a transformational project for the city as a whole, but we’re aware of the particular impact this work will have on the people living nearby. That’s why our team has been making every effort to share information on the process, as well as providing support to adapt to the changes for residents and businesses.

Construction schedule

Construction will begin on Leith Walk on Saturday, 28 March while additional work will begin along the route during March. Full details of ongoing work and work scheduled to begin this spring are:

  1. London Road to Crown Place – starting 28 March 2020, scheduled to complete Autumn 2021
  2. Ocean Drive - starting 13 March 2020, scheduled to complete Autumn 2020
  3. Newhaven to Melrose Drive – starting 6 March 2020, scheduled to complete Summer 2021
  4. Queen Charlotte Street to Constitution Place – ongoing, scheduled to complete Autumn 2020
  5. Foot of the Walk to Coatfield Lane – ongoing, scheduled to complete by Spring 2021

The full construction programme can be accessed on the Trams to Newhaven website.

Traffic Management

Traffic management arrangements have been approved jointly with members of the city’s Traffic Management Review Panel, including Lothian Buses and the emergency services, and these will be in place from 28 March 2020. Access through the site will be maintained for emergency services at all times. Diversion routes and advanced warning signage will be erected in the vicinity for information.

During main construction works there will be no stopping or waiting at any time within the city bound running lane. Traffic management plans are available online.

Pedestrian access will be maintained at all times on both sides of Leith Walk. While current parking and loading will be suspended, temporary car parks will be provided on Leith Walk to ensure people can still visit the area to shop and go about their business.


A bi-directional cycle lane on the west side of Leith Walk will be provided and maintained throughout the construction works. At times there will be local diversions to this lane in order to facilitate the works. These will be clearly sign posted as required.

Bus diversions

The project has liaised extensively with Lothian on the proposed traffic management to allow Lothian to develop their bus diversion route plans. Full details of bus diversions are available online.

Construction Works 

From 28 March to 11 April fencing will be erected in order to establish the construction site. Construction work will involve the excavation of the road to allow utility diversions, tracklaying, installation of tram infrastructure, public realm improvements and heritage and archaeology works. The construction strategy, which involves large work sites being established to allow both utility works and tramway construction, means works can continue in the event of any problem being encountered during the period.

During construction, communal bins for Leith Walk will be situated at the nearest side street to the existing location. The regularity of uplifts will be increased to ensure the area is kept clean and tidy and uplifts will take place in the evening to minimise traffic in the area at peak times.

All post boxes will be removed from Leith Walk and returned once construction is completed.

The London Road roundabout clock and bronze pigeons will be refurbished and returned to an improved public realm at Elm Row, scheduled for completion Autumn 2021.

Supporting Local Businesses 

There will be a Support for Business package in operation, devised in consultation with businesses in the area, which will include a local voucher scheme, an ‘open for business’ campaign across a range of media and a business continuity fund. Full details can be found on the project website.

Logistics hubs to support Leith Walk businesses will be set up on Montgomery Street, Albert Street, Dalmeny Street and at the Foot of the Walk to help with deliveries and dispatches. These will also be the location for businesses presenting their trade waste. Help will be at hand via these logistics hubs for residents expecting large deliveries such as appliances or furniture too.

For further information please visit Alternatively the team can be emailed at [email protected]

Published: February 21st 2020