Are you a resident or business in the local area? Join our mailing lists

Post Construction

Jump to a section: 

Route and operations

Why does the tram go along Constitution Street and not along Great Junction Street?

The original Business Case produced for the line and the Edinburgh Tram (Line 1) Act 2006 identified the preferred route along Leith Walk and Constitution Street.  Alternative routes were identified along Easter Road instead of Leith Walk; and following Great Junction Street in Leith instead of the alignment through the Port of Leith.  These were then evaluated in accordance with Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) against the following criteria

  • Environment;
  • Accessibility;
  • Integration;
  • Economy; and
  • Safety

The preferred option, to run trams along Leith Walk and Constitution Street, performed best and was clearly favourable on economic grounds.  Great Junction Street performed demonstrably worse.  The Easter Road alignment was less preferable to the Leith Walk alignment due to higher scheme costs and lower patronage demand forecasts and was therefore discounted.

Why is the Foot of the Walk stop on Constitution Street rather than at the bottom of Leith Walk?

We have considered the options of locating this stop either on the Leith Walk side of the Foot of the Walk junction or at the southern end of Constitution Street.  Locating it at the Foot of the Walk would result in a number of issues in terms of both the spatial constraints at this location and in accommodating the various modes of transport including walking, active travel and traffic movements.  This means that the tram stop located at the Foot of the Walk would significantly impact on bus and car movements and would lead to delays in operating the tram.  For these reasons, the Foot of the Walk location was discounted and so the stop will be located on Constitution Street as per the current designs.

Where has the Balfour Street stop been moved to and why?

The stop at Balfour Street has been moved a short distance from the location on the original plans. It will now be sited further to the south (towards the city) with the platform end located at the junction of Balfour Street. The street will also benefit from traffic signals, allowing both right and left-hand turns in and out.

We moved the stop after receiving a large amount of feedback telling us that the location of the Balfour Street stop was problematic. Given that Balfour Street (and the cul-de-sacs of Cambridge Gardens, Cambridge Avenue and Springfield) are currently one way in and out, there were concerns raised about ease of access for residents. Your feedback sent us back to the drawing board and during the second round of consultation we presented the updated location for the stop. Of those who expressed a preference in our online consultation, 86% said they agreed the new stop location dealt with the issues raised during the first round of consultation. 

Return to the top.

Design principles

Why does the line have to operate with OLE poles?

The current system operates with an overhead wire system and as such the existing fleet of vehicles are designed to operate in this manner.  This project does not require additional vehicles to be added to the fleet and as such the line to Newhaven must operate with Overhead Line and therefore requires overhead line poles or building fixings to be put in place to support the wire.

Why have centre island platforms been chosen as design solution for stops?

Centre island platforms are a common solution for stops on light rail schemes.  The island platforms have been chosen as the best way to introduce a stop with minimal impact to the area for other uses such as footway space, road use and cycling.  Also, as the tram lines will run up the middle of Leith Walk, the most effective solution is island platforms in these instances.

Why does the tram stop at York Place need to be demolished?

The tram stop at York Place will be demolished as the stop is currently located on top of the position for the tracks to be taken through to Picardy Place and beyond.  The stop at York Place was always envisaged as being temporary and as such the track slab has already been constructed under the stop.

What will tram stops look like?

Stops on the new section of the tram line will follow similar design principles to those on the operational line.

What is the rationale for the design of the footways on Leith Walk?

The design for Leith Walk was developed in close consultation with the community and stakeholders during 2018 to allow residents, businesses, pedestrians and cyclist to co-exist with buses and trams.

The Edinburgh Street Design Guidance (ESDG) recognises that flexibility is required to accommodate a variety of modes in the design of existing streets.  As Leith Walk is an existing street and is classified as a Strategic Retail/High Street, the guidance is that footways should be a minimum of 2.5m wide. However, there are situations in which reductions in footway width are permissible, which are summarised below:

  • When segregated cycle provision is being installed in existing streets, it may be acceptable to reduce footway widths.
  • Footways may have reduced widths, over short lengths not exceeding 3m in long profile, to negotiate mature trees and other obstructions e.g., bus stops, but they should at no point be less than 1.5m from kerb edge to building line.
  • Where public utility services underlie the footway, special arrangements may be necessary at sections of reduced width to accommodate utilities in the carriageway or verge.

Read more about guidance on the design of footways as part of the ESDG.

The ESDG also recommends that one way cycle lanes should be 1.75m wide but should be no less than 1.5m. In exceptional circumstances this can be further reduced to 1.25m and parallel to bus stops can be reduced to 1.2m.  

Read more about guidance on the design of cycle lanes as part of the ESDG.

Leith Walk is almost 2km long with footways on both sides of the road. The new layout will have approximately 240m of footway that is less than 2.5 m wide as a result of the presence of a cycle lane in combination with other factors such as bin bays, loading and parking bays, bus stops and pedestrian crossings.  There are no sections where the width of the footway reduces below 1.5 metres, with the narrowest section being 1.8 metres for a distance of 28 metres. 

These designs deliver an enhanced public realm for pedestrians and cyclists while also ensuring space for quality public transport provision.

Why does the design on Leith Walk include for a central reservation and why not put OLE poles on the footways?

The Central reservation was considered as part of the original consultation and community workshops.  The inclusion of a central reserve predominantly allows the design to include all OLE poles and street lighting assets to be in the central reservation thus de-cluttering footways.  This was considered at the community workshops and it was identified that by removing the central reservation and utilising side poles did not give any additional benefit in terms of footway/usable space and as such has been considered to be the most effective option.  The introduction of a central reserve at 1.8m wide also allows for a safe refuge space when crossing the road on Leith Walk providing additional permeability from one side of the street to the other.

Why does the central reservation on Leith Walk need to be kerbed?

The Central reservation is kerbed to provide protection to the OLE poles and to restrict right hand turning manoeuvres at non-signalised junctions.  This area, however, will now also be extended to 1.8m wide allowing for it to be lowered locally and utilised as a safe refuge point for crossing.

What happens to public realm work installed on Constitution Street?

Once work is complete the public realm at Constitution Street will benefit from a series of improvements.  This will include simplified crossing points for pedestrians, an increase in public space using natural stone paving, specimen trees, seating and cycle stands.

How much green/ public realm space will be introduced as part of the design?

Major public realm works are planned for Elm Row, Ocean Terminal and Bernard Street.  Here you will see improvements to the landscaping, paving, street lighting and public spaces.  All monuments either currently in place or in storage would also be reintroduced.  We also intend to will introduce benches, trees, grassed areas and improved pavements and road surfaces.

Will trees along the route need to be removed as part of the works?

The removal of any trees will only happen if there is no alternative. Under the terms of the contract, if a tree is removed it will be replaced by two trees of similar stature within the vicinity.

The City of Edinburgh Council recently pledged to be a one million tree city by 2030, read the full article. 

How does the Foot of the Walk stop fit within the constrained space on Constitution Street?

The stop at Foot of the Walk will sit at the Leith Walk end of Constitution Street.  Space here is tight and so we are proposing side platforms that share space with the pavements.  Any tram stop furniture will be minimised and fixed to buildings where possible.

Why has the right turn been banned from London Road on to Leith Walk and what is the alternative route?

Modelling has shown that the inclusion of a right-hand turn from London Road to Leith Walk will result in significant traffic delays on London Road and Leith Walk. To mitigate these delays, the design has removed the right-hand turn into Leith Walk. This design is also based on traffic count data that has shown there is limited demand for this movement.  The alternative is to utilise the Picardy Place junction should traffic from London Road wish to head north on Leith Walk.

What measures have been put in place to ensure noise and vibration levels are not excessive once the tram is operational?

You can view a report which details the mitigation measure that have been put in along the route for noise and vibration.

Why are there three different types of track slab (standard, soft, floating) being used along the route?

The choice of track slab for each location is determined by the ground conditions, vibration checks and proximity to building. 

Return to the top.

Trams and buses

How will bus services be affected once in operation?

Trams are intended to complement the bus offering, not replace them.  The Leith Walk corridor is nearing capacity and with the local population expected to increase, we must act now to ensure public transport in the area does not become oversubscribed.

Will there be a transport interchange at Elm Row?

The stop at McDonald Road sits to the south of the street and on Elm Row/Haddington Place.  You will be able to get off the tram at McDonald Road and walk to the bus stops at Elm Row/Gayfield Square in around 3 minutes.  Alternatively, those coming from the west of the city can get off the tram at Picardy Place and walk to the bus stops at Elm Row/Gayfield Square in around 2 minutes.

Will there be a transport interchange Picardy Place?

Yes, the stop at Picardy Place will be located on the west side of the island site, with an additional platform allowing direct access onto the island site.  You will be able to get off the tram at the Picardy Place stop and walk directly to the bus stops located in front of St Mary’s Cathedral.

Will there be a transport interchange at Ocean Terminal?

Yes, a transport interchange will operate from the plaza outside the front of Ocean Terminal allowing people to move seamlessly between bus, tram and taxi.

Will buses be allowed to go through Constitution Street?

Buses will be able to use Constitution Street between Bernard Street and Queen Charlotte Street. Due to the narrow nature of the road, buses will not be able to access Constitution Street between Foot of the Walk and Queen Charlotte Street. 

Has consideration been given to combined bus/tram stops, specifically at the Foot of the Walk stop?

The project team have reviewed the possibility of bus and tram sharing a single platform.  This has a significant impact on tram journey times and will also require some form of stepped platform due to the differing alighting levels from the vehicles.  As a result, there has been no further consideration for shared stops.

Return to the top.

Traffic modelling

What design assessments and traffic modelling was carried out in regard to banning right turns from London Road onto Leith Walk, and what were the outputs?

Proposals for the redesign of the Leith Walk / London Road junction were previously considered as part of Leith Walk Phase 6.  The existing layout has a very large footprint and acts as a barrier to pedestrian movement.  In developing a new design, a key objective was to reduce the amount of space given to road traffic, while increasing the area given to active travel and an improved public realm.  A full width pedestrian / cycle crossing at London Road was considered desirable to improve walking and cycling connectivity to and from Leith Walk.  In order to accommodate these requirements, it was necessary to simplify the traffic signal staging by banning the right turn from London Road towards Leith Walk northbound and Annandale Street.

In the morning peak, the traffic modelling indicates that approximately 123 vehicles make the right turn from London Road to Leith Walk, of which only 24 are considered strategic and the remaining attributed to local trips.  When the right turn is banned, virtually no vehicles travel from London Road to Leith Walk via Picardy Place.  However, if a vehicle was to undertake this manoeuvre then there will be an additional travel time of approximately 84 seconds.

A significant proportion of the vehicles that turn right from London Road to Leith Walk travel along Annandale Street / East London Street to Broughton.  Closing this turn provides an added benefit in that it prevents rat running along these streets.  St Mary’s Primary School is located on East London Street and banning this right turn results in approximately 180 fewer vehicles an hour passing this school during the morning peak.

Traffic modelling further indicates that currently it takes approximately 80 seconds to travel to the roundabout at London Street / Broughton Street via Picardy Place and 113 seconds via Annandale Street / East London Street.  Once the right turn ban is imposed, the travel time to the London Street / Broughton Street roundabout via the redesigned Picardy Place is approximately 91 seconds.

What traffic modelling was carried out in regard to the proposal to divert all Leith bound traffic to Easter Road and Bonnington Road during the construction phase, and what were the outputs?

Traffic modelling of both morning and evening peak periods has been undertaken for these diversion routes.

With Leith Walk operating city-bound only, analysis shows that traffic volumes on Easter Road Leith-bound increase from an approximate average of 400 to 600 vehicles per hour in the morning peak.  In the evening peak on Easter Road, traffic flows increase from around 350 to 600 vehicles per hour.  To accommodate this increase in traffic flow junction improvements will be carried out at the Duke Street roundabout.

Leith-bound traffic on Bonnington Road increases from an approximate average of 300 to 400 vehicles per hour in the morning peak.  In the evening peak on Bonnington Road, traffic flows increase from an average of 280 to 400 vehicles per hour.

What traffic modelling has been carried out in regard to the banning of general traffic from entering Constitution Street from Leith Walk?  In the same vein by removing general traffic from the South End of Constitution Street what affect does this have on traffic displacement, specifically considering Duncan Place and Queen Charlotte Street?

Detailed transport modelling of the impacts of this change has been undertaken.

In the morning peak, approximately 200 vehicles per hour travel Leith bound on Constitution Street and 250 vehicles city bound.  With Constitution Street closed to general traffic, approximately 40 extra vehicles per hour use Duncan Place Leith bound and 40 extra vehicles per hour use Henderson Street.  The remaining 120 vehicles are more widely displaced, using alternative routes across the road network.

In the opposite citybound direction, with Constitution Street closed, approximately 65 extra vehicles per hour use Duncan Place, 115 extra vehicles use Henderson Street and the remaining 70 vehicles are displaced evenly around the road network.  To alleviate this increase on Duncan Place the project team are currently appraising traffic calming measures within the area.

Modelling indicates that Queen Charlotte Street will also see a small reduction in traffic in both directions as a result of Constitution Street being closed to general traffic.

The design of the lower half of Leith Walk reduces road capacity and introduces a signalised release system for tram at Balfour Street.  What affect does this have on car/traffic journey times on Leith Walk and what affect does this design have on traffic displacement?

Traffic flows on Leith Walk are reduced in both directions as a result of the implementation of tram and the closure of Constitution Street to general traffic.  Between Balfour Street and the Foot of the Walk morning peak hourly traffic volumes reduce by approximately 100-200 vehicles Leith-bound and 250-400 vehicles city bound.

On the parallel section of Easter Road, traffic volumes increase by approximately 20-80 vehicles Leith bound and 10-150 vehicles city bound.  Traffic volumes on the parallel section of Bonnington Road increase by approximately 10-25 vehicles Leith bound and 20-150 vehicles city bound.

As along other sections of the route, traffic signals will be coordinated to provide a tram green wave so that, under normal circumstances, trams travel between stops without delay.  Over the lower section of Leith Walk, northbound trams will be released from the Balfour Street stop ahead of other vehicles, helping to keep a clear route ahead.  City bound trams leave the Foot of Leith Walk stop in their own signal stage which again helps provide a clear path towards Balfour Street.

In the morning peak, the average modelled car journey time on Leith Walk between Pilrig Street and the Foot of the Walk is 1 minute 10 seconds.  This increases to approximately 2 minutes 40 seconds with trams in place.

City bound, existing car journey times are approximately 1 minute 50 seconds, and these are forecast to increase to 2 minutes 35 seconds once the scheme is in place.

In addition to the signalised release system, increased journey times are a result of the additional signalised junctions at Manderston Street and Lorne Street, which are required as part of the tram project.

By stopping up Montgomery Street entirely what impact does this have on traffic displacement on surrounding streets, including Brunswick Road?

With the right turn from London Road to Leith Walk north prohibited and Montgomery Street stopped up entirely, there is the potential for east to northbound traffic to be displaced towards Brunswick Road.

Traffic modelling indicates that, under this scenario, an extra 100 vehicles per hour will use Brunswick Street westbound in the morning peak.  To compensate, it is to make Brunswick Road westbound only at Leith Walk with eastbound traffic displaced to London Road and Albert St.  Widened footway and additional cycling facilities will be provided from Tesco at Leith Walk towards Dicksonfield.

Traffic modelling indicates that there are approximately 240 vehicles travelling eastbound on Brunswick Street and Montgomery Street in the morning peak; the majority of these will be displaced to London Road once Brunswick Street is made westbound only and Montgomery Street is stopped up entirely.

What effect does the tram stop have at Bernard Street on the operation of the Bernard St / Baltic St / Constitution St junction?

The Shore tram stop is in close proximity to the Bernard St / Baltic St / Constitution St junction. It is unusual in that it is the only stop where general traffic is permitted in the lane adjacent to the platform.

The closure of Constitution Street to general traffic at Leith Walk results in a reduction in through traffic on the approach to the Bernard Street / Baltic Street / Constitution Street junction.  To allow Newhaven-bound trams to operate efficiently, it is that the Constitution St arm is double cycled; meaning the first stage operates to flush out traffic in advance of a tram approaching The Shore stop while the second stage, which runs approximately 35 seconds later, releases trams towards Newhaven.

Return to the top.