Key section of Leith Walk to reopen as Trams to Newhaven progresses

An aerial photograph showing Leith Walk now most of the tram works are complete.

Leith Walk will reopen to two-way traffic between Pilrig Street and London Road from Monday (18 July), marking a key milestone for the Trams to Newhaven project.

The main construction works between Montgomery Street/Annandale Street and Pilrig Street are now complete and fencing will be removed from outside businesses and homes.

The project remains on schedule for completion by spring 2023 and within the £207.3m budget, with all major construction anticipated to be complete by the end of 2022 ahead of a testing and commissioning period.

Progress to date includes:

  • Almost 3,900 metres of track laid, 84% of the total
  • Main construction works completed on three out of the eight new tram stops with works progressing well at the Balfour Street, Foot of the Walk and Newhaven stops
  • Over 4,000 metres of communications ducting installed (87% of the total) serving the tram and future communication requirements in the area
  • More than 4,000 metres of drainage installed (89% of the total)
  • Over 60,000 deliveries from the logistic hubs to local businesses
  • Almost 24,500 itison vouchers sold, generating over £240,000 potential spend in participating businesses on the route.
  • Over £175,000 spend on open for business campaigns
  • Main construction works complete on several sections, including Ocean Terminal to Rennie’s Isle and between Tower Street and Constitution Place and Tower Street and Baltic Street

However, the programme for some specific sections of the route has changed due to industry wide challenges with the availability of materials and skilled labour, as well as other issues including complex utility conflicts.

As a result, some stretches are scheduled to take longer than originally planned, including Melrose Drive and outside Ocean Terminal. Full details of the updated programme are available on the Trams to Newhaven website.

Councillor Scott Arthur, Transport and Environment Convener, said:

It’s great news that this key section of Leith Walk will soon reopen and will start its transition to becoming a vibrant multi-modal transport corridor. Not only does it mark a major milestone for the Trams to Newhaven project but I’m sure it will be most welcome to businesses and residents along this part of the route. I’d like to thank all those living and working nearby for their patience throughout the programme of work.

As the project nears completion, the progress made so far is clear to see. Once finished, it will be transformative for the area and beyond. As well as delivering a low-carbon, high capacity and clean mode of transport to this densely populated part of Edinburgh, it will create improved public spaces, active travel links and support future growth and development.

I do of course recognise that changes to the programme, which are down to issues outwith our control, are likely to affect people and we’ll be working hard to share the latest information and will continue to look at ways in which we can mitigate against some of these delays. To ensure residents are kept safe, I have also asked that parking restrictions are robustly enforced along the route.

I’d like to thank the Trams to Newhaven project team for all their hard work. Despite the pandemic and global logistics problems, the project is on track to welcome its first passengers in spring 2023 and will be delivered within budget.

Maria Ortega, SFN Project Director on Edinburgh Trams York Place to Newhaven, said:

We continue to make excellent progress on this project on behalf of our client The City of Edinburgh Council and we are delighted to be reopening this key section of Leith Walk to two-way traffic.

As contractors we are working hard to ensure that continued progress is made throughout the remaining section of works. Despite the challenges of the pandemic and industry wide issues, we are proud of the progress we have made by working successfully alongside our partners, supply chain and client.

We look forward to this line being operational in spring 2023.

Steve Jackson, Project Director, Turner & Townsend said:

As a project we have experienced numerous challenges, as well as industry wide issues, however collaborative working has played a key role to ensure that we have remained on track throughout the life cycle of the project.

As we enter the final phase of construction works to deliver the Edinburgh Trams to Newhaven line, achievements such as this begin to bring the project together in real life and allow people to see the positive transformational impact this system will have for them.

I would like to thank all project partners for their efforts to date and we look forward to making continued progress across the route.

As part of the changes, there is no waiting or stopping between Pilrig Street and Annandale Street, though there is designated loading and parking provision on both the east and west side of Leith Walk. Logistics hubs to support businesses on Albert Street and Montgomery Street with deliveries and dispatches will also remain on this section of Leith Walk.

Find out more about Trams to Newhaven, including landscape plans and timelines, online. Further information on bus diversions and timetables is available on the Lothian Buses website.

Published: July 13th 2022