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Adapting to COVID-19

What works are starting on Monday 15 June and 22 June 2020?

Main construction works will begin on the Ocean Drive, Lindsay Road and Constitution Street sites on Monday 15 June 2020. This will include excavation works and further ground investigation.

Main construction works will begin on Monday 22 June on Leith Walk with the traffic management being put in place over the weekend from Friday 19 June 2020 and operational from 5.00am on Saturday 20 June.

In advance of this, preparatory works will start on 15 June on Leith Walk which will include the repositioning of the barriers to recreate the city-bound running lane.

Main construction works will see MUS moving utilities in order for SFN to lay the tracks and the main tram infrastructure. All works will be carried out in accordance with Scottish Government guidance.

It should be noted that it may take time for all sites to be operational.

What works started on 1 June 2020?

On 28 May 2020, the First Minister of Scotland confirmed that construction sites could now start site preparation works from Friday 29 May 2020. The Trams to Newhaven site preparation works could start on Monday 1 June 2020. This consisted of, among other things, the introduction of infection control stations, additional water stations and toilet facilities for workers within the site, ensuring all office workspaces and facilities were set up appropriately, and the removal of the protective in-fill material that was used to ensure the work site remained safe and protected during the shutdown.

What impact will COVID 19 have on the programme?

It is still too early to say. The project is looking at ways of mitigating the impact of enforced shut down on the construction programme but the tram currently remains on schedule to be operational from Spring 2023 as previously stated.

Are you confident it can be delivered within the £207.3m outlined in the final business case?

Clearly COVID 19 is an extraordinary situation. The project was allocated £207.3m as part of the final business case presented to committee on 18 March 2019. We continue to work within that budget.

Will the funding for the project be affected?

The funding for the tram is primarily through borrowing money and then using patronage and fare box to repay the loan.  

What impact has COVID 19 had on your supply chain, including goods but also personnel?

A lot of work was carried out during the enforced shut down on the remobilisation plan and that included ensuring our supply change would be robust once restrictions were lifted. While it will take a bit of time to fully remobilise given the situation and the complexity of the project, we are confident that we have all the pieces in place to get back up to full speed as soon as possible.

Why don’t you simply cancel the project?

The economic, social and environmental benefits of the Trams to Newhaven project were outlined in the final business case. Edinburgh remains a popular place to live, work and visit and having an integrated transport system that allows people to access key parts on the city efficiently and effectively is crucial for our future prosperity. Now more than ever we need to invest in the city to ensure a successful future. The Tram to Newhaven project is one of the key elements of the drive to increase active travel and move towards a carbon neutral city that has been outlined in other key projects including City Centre Transformation, City Mobility Plan, City Plan 2030 and the Council's on-going work in developing a 2050 City Vision.

Should you not be giving Leith Walk businesses time to recover from COVID so that they can be robust for when construction re -starts?

In order to deliver this project as quickly, efficiently and effectively, it is important we begin construction as soon as possible. We are aware of the impact COVID 19 has had on businesses and there are a number of Scottish Government initiatives in place to help businesses. In addition, the project has its own Support for Business package to support businesses and we will work with businesses in the area during this construction period and beyond. We are committed to working with businesses on the route to look to continue to drive footfall, maintain vibrancy in the area, and mitigate the impact of construction.

Will you be undertaking construction in shorter sections and put smaller traffic management in place?

In developing the construction strategy for the project, we have drawn on lessons from the first phase of tram and good practice for construction projects from other European cities. Our traffic management means we can open up large work sites to allow us to do both utility and main tramway construction works continuously. It also allows works to continue in the event of any problem being encountered during construction and fewer traffic management changes enables those affected by the works to adapt to the revised arrangements.
While we will be establishing large worksites, it will not mean we are working in every area at all times. However, our construction strategy only works by establishing these large worksites.

What H&S measures will be put in place to protect your workforce and the public?

We are committed to keeping our teams and the public safe during these works and we will continue to follow all Scottish Government guidance on measures to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.  The following actions will be implemented when the project recommences: 

  • There will be a re-induction of all staff to communicate the new COVID 19 measures. These will be followed up with regular briefings to ensure the message is continually communicated and reiterate the importance of hand washing, hygiene and physical distancing.
  • Work will be carried out in compliance with Scottish Government guidance however workers will also be provided with additional Personal Protective Equipment.
  • All workers will have their temperature taken before attending the workplace.
  • All sites will have infection control station
  • The project site office will be remodelled to include measures for physical distancing. Those who can work from home will continue to do so. The daily cleaning regime will be intensified
  • The site will have COVID ambassadors who will monitor the measures on site.

What measures will be in place to ensure there is physical distancing on the streets beside the worksites? 

We continue to review all sites and have widened the footways wherever it was safe to do so. Unfortunately, several sections of the footway do not allow us to widen them any more as there are open excavations or uneven surfacing. To combat this we have installed a suggested one-way system on several sections of constitution street to alleviate pedestrians concerns regarding physical distancing. We are continuing to review our working areas and liaising with council colleagues but in the meantime, in areas, where space is restricted, as in other parts of the city, we would ask that people consider other pedestrians and give them space, stay alert especially if you are using your phone or wearing headphones, and keep left if possible and pass on the right.