Two years of Trams to Newhaven

Drone photograph shows progress of Trams to Newhaven project on Leith Walk

As the Trams to Newhaven project marks the two-year point and remains on track for opening for revenue service in Spring 2023, we’re looking back over the progress made so far.

Enabling works for the project began on Constitution Street in November 2019 and despite challenges posed by the Covid pandemic, including a 13-week site shutdown in line with Scottish Government restrictions, the project remains on target for completion in spring 2023 and within the £207.3m budget.

Drone photographs of the three-mile route between Picardy Place and Newhaven reveal the changing streetscape, including the development of improved public spaces and pavements, new protected cycle lanes and tracks in the ground.

Since November 2019 the Trams to Newhaven project has:

  • Completed 1087 (76%) of the known utility diversions and excavated almost 4000 metres of road to enable the installation of tram infrastructure
  • Installed 2400 metres of track, more than half of the total to be laid
  • Installed over 3000 metres of communications infrastructure, 65% of the total required for the project
  • Installed over 3000 metres of power ducting and over 2500 metres of drainage infrastructure
  • Completed over 250,000 person hours on site
  • Installed 200 metres of pipes that collect and store excess water from large storm events, helping safeguard the area against flooding in the future
  • Sold £170,000 worth of itison vouchers to use in local businesses
  • Assisted with over 5700 deliveries from the logistic hubs
  • Supported local initiatives through the community benefits workstream including Leith Chooses, Leith Gives and the One City Trust

However, the programme for specific sections of the route has changed due to recent nationwide issues affecting the entire construction industry. These include the impact of the Covid pandemic, construction-wide material shortages and a lack of availability of skilled labourers. In addition, the project has come across utility conflicts at key junctions such as Jane Street, Bernard Street, McDonald Road and Tower Street that were more complex than expected and have impacted the completion date for certain sections.

As a result, some stretches are scheduled to take longer than expected, including the Leith Walk section from London Road to Crown Street, which is now estimated to be completed by July 2022. Full details of the updated programme are available on the Trams to Newhaven website.

Councillor Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener, said:

We are making good progress towards the delivery of Trams to Newhaven and many people have commented on the amount of track that has been laid so far.

However, I do recognise the disruption this major project has caused to people living and working nearby, and that changes to the programme, which are down to issues out with our control, are likely to affect them. We’ll be working hard to share the latest information and provide support in the coming months and will continue to look at ways in which we can mitigate against some of these delays.

Once complete, this project will play a key role in the future growth and development of the city. Delivering the tram line to Leith will unlock a large area of the city for housing and economic development, while providing a low-carbon, clean mode of transport to densely populated communities.

Councillor Karen Doran, Transport and Environment Vice Convener, said:

As we mark two years of the Trams to Newhaven project it’s really encouraging that we remain on track for completion in spring 2023 and within budget, despite recent challenges.

Once complete the project will transform this densely populated part of the city and I look forward to the benefits it will bring in the very near future.

Find out more about Trams to Newhaven online.

Published: November 23rd 2021