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Main construction on Trams to Newhaven project to re-start

Tram at elm row

Details of the re-start of construction works

Main construction works for the Edinburgh’s Trams to Newhaven project will start from Monday 15 June 2020 in line with the Scottish Government’s Phase 2 ‘soft start to site works (only where physical distancing can be maintained).

Work on the project was stopped at the end of March to comply with Government guidance and to protect the safety of workers and residents during the coronavirus outbreak.

Following the First Minister’s announcement on 21 May of a phased return for construction sites, plans have been drawn up in line with Scottish Government safety guidelines and industry best practice to ensure the safety of workers and the public. At the briefing on 28 May the First Minister confirmed that site preparation could begin and, following the announcement today, main construction works can now start. This will encompass the existing sites on Lindsay Road, Melrose Drive and Constitution Street which will start from Monday 15 June. In addition, main construction works on Leith Walk from Elm Row to Crown Place will start on Monday 22 June.

In advance of this some preparatory works on Leith Walk will start on Monday 15 June 2020 ahead of the installation of traffic management which will begin on the evening of Friday 19 June and be operational from 5am on Saturday 20 June 2020 including Lothian Bus diversions. All traffic management arrangements are made in consultation with key partners in the city, including blue light services and public transport providers, through the Traffic Management Review Panel and are continuously monitored and reviewed to ensure they work as effectively as possible.

All works will be carried out through physical distancing and additional measures to protect workers’ health will include daily briefings, continuous on-site inspections and health and safety ‘ambassadors.’ The numbers of workers on-site will be kept to a minimum and a large proportion of the project office staff will continue to work from home. While physical distancing will be a key principle of construction working, workers will also have access to personal protection equipment (PPE) which they may choose to wear as an additional precaution if they wish. It should be noted that it may take time for the sites to become fully operational.

The logistic hubs at the Mitchell Street, Foot of the Walk, Dalmeny Street, Albert Street and Montgomery Street will re-open on Monday 22 June to support local businesses with deliveries and despatches. All communal bins that are currently situated on Leith Walk will be moved to the side streets.

Adam McVey, Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “With the site preparation works now completed and with updated advice from the Scottish Government, I am delighted that main construction works can now restart. As I’ve said previously, the safety of workers and the public is of utmost importance during this time and all works will be undertaken in compliance with the Government’s guidance on construction working and to allow physical distancing."

“We are continuing to review the construction programme and working patterns to look at ways in which we can mitigate against the impact of the 13 week COVID 19 shut down given that we expect there to be less traffic on the roads.”

Cammy Day, Deputy-Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, said “The Trams to Newhaven project is being delivered for the future of our City and is one of a number of schemes that are crucial to the sustainable, long-term development of the city, helping decarbonise the way we travel. It is exactly the kind of investment we need post-COVID-19 to ensure Edinburgh is a thriving, forward-looking place for people to live and work in and deliver much needed housing, jobs and investment into North Edinburgh.”

Alejandro Mendoza Monfort, Project Director of Sacyr Farrans Neopul, the main infrastructure contractor, said ‘SFN are delighted that we can restart our works on the Trams to Newhaven project.  We understand the importance that this project will have for Edinburgh’s future and are committed to ensuring that we continue to mitigate the impact of Coronavirus 19.  During this pause period, concentrated efforts have continued behind the scenes to develop and test a series of robust systems and procedures, whilst ensuring the highest level of health, safety and wellbeing can be provided. 

We have used this time to adapt to our new working world and developed new operating procedures that provide information, guidance and site-specific measures that will be implemented when conducting works to mitigate the impact, so far as reasonably practicable, of the virus.’

Mike Thomson, Director of Morrison Utility Services, said ‘We are very pleased to restart the main construction works on the Trams to Newhaven project. The safety of colleagues and the public is a key focus and we will ensure that our working practices are fully compliant with the guidance given by the Scottish Government. We’ll also continue to work with the City of Edinburgh Council and SFN to look at ways in which we can drive efficiencies.’

You can also read about other construction projects restarting

For information

The Scottish Government’s phased approach to construction details six key phases to ensure work is carried out in a safe way. These are:

  • Phase 0: Planning
  • Phase 1: Covid-19 Pre-start Site preparation
  • Phase 2: “Soft start” to site works (only where physical distancing can be maintained)
  • Phase 3: Steady state operation (only where physical distancing can be maintained)
  • Phase 4: Steady state operation (where physical distancing can be maintained and/or with PPE use)
  • Phase 5: Increasing density/productivity with experience

Working Practices

We are committed to keeping our teams and the public safe during these works and we will continue to follow all government guidance on precautionary measures to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. 

Detailed below are actions we are taking to our working practices as a result of COVID 19.

Working from home

Our office-based staff are currently working from home and avoiding unnecessary travel and the majority will continue to do so. All site offices have been set up to ensure physical distancing and numbers of employees accessing these will be kept to a minimum.

Physical Distancing

We have rigorous procedures in place to ensure everyone on site adheres to physical distancing. This is covered in our Health & Safety protocols governing safe site activity and will be enforced as such. Prior to a return to site all workforce will be tested on their understanding of new measures in place.

The need to work two metres apart requires cooperation and understanding, and our teams have been working closely with City of Edinburgh Council, supply chain partners and other stakeholders to agree practices and programmes so we continue to operate in a safe working environment.

Site lay-out

We have reviewed likely bottlenecks, such as access/egress and routes in and around the site. To combat this, we created a series of one-way systems allowing site operatives to keep their distance and avoid oncoming people.


We are ensuring door handles and other communal touch points are cleaned down regularly each day and will be providing hand sanitiser alongside hygiene guidance and clear signage explaining what we require staff to do.

Pre-work validation of personal health

Members of the project and site team will be asked to notify us of any changes to their health and to self-isolate immediately if anyone feels/displays any of the symptoms. This will be continuously monitored via returning to work self-declaration checks.

Temperature Checking

We have introduced the use of temperature checks for all personnel when entering the project each morning as a further safeguard.

Published: 12th June 2020