Council chief vows honesty in tram progress as motorists face disruption

New tram tracks are laid at St Andrew's Square, Edinburgh

New tram tracks are laid at St Andrew's Square, Edinburgh

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NEW pictures reveal the latest progress of the tram project along its 
14-kilometre route, as motorists brace themselves for major disruption in the city centre from this weekend.

Tram bosses say they are still on schedule for the trams to start operating by summer 2014 and within the revised £776 million budget approved by councillors last year, but a lot of work is still to be done.

Edinburgh Tram work at the Haymarket

Edinburgh Tram work at the Haymarket

York Place will be closed to general traffic from 5am on Saturday as work gets under way on what will become the final part of the tram line from the airport to the city centre.

Traffic will be diverted down Broughton Street – which will reopen on Saturday – and through the New Town, via Albany Street and Abercomby Place.

Meanwhile, work started this week on track-laying at South St Andrew Street, preparing the way for a partial reopening of the east end of Princes Street in September, to coincide with the full closure of York Place and the need for buses to run the whole length of Princes Street.

A full reopening at the East End is planned for the end of the year.

Edinburgh Park viaduct

Edinburgh Park viaduct

At the West End, track-laying is due to begin at Shandwick Place by the end of the week. The work will be carried out on one side of the road at a time to ensure continued access to the area for emergency vehicles. It is due for completion by summer next year.

The main stretch of Princes Street, from Lothian Road to Waverley Bridge, reopened on June 30 after being closed since September last year, with a month-long suspension of work over Christmas. It was the second time the tracks had been laid – the street had been closed for nine months in 2009 while the work was carried out the first time, but contractor Bilfinger Berger said it had to be done again, at its expense, after the road surface 
began cracking up.

Council leader Andrew Burns has promised to be “extremely frank and honest” about how the tram project is progressing.

He said: “When it’s going well we will say it’s going well. When it’s not going well – and there will be times when it’s not going well –we will be open about that.”

Progress?

Edinburgh Park Viaduct: Looking back towards Edinburgh Park Station, the viaduct which will carry trams over the railway line and into

Edinburgh Park can be seen against the Novotel, with Hermiston Gait behind. The viaduct was one of the earlier parts of the project to be completed and track-laying is now well under way on this part of the route. The business park will have

its own tram stop –

Edinburgh Park Central

St Andrew Square: Track-laying work began this week in South St

Andrew Street, leading to St Andrew Square, and is due for completion by the end of the year. The junction of South St Andrew Street and Princes Street is due to partially reopen in September, with a full reopening by the end of the year

Haymarket: The view looking towards the city centre shows work continuing on the track slabs, with track-laying due to follow shortly. The work at this site is scheduled for completion in spring next year, when the road should return to normal

Edinburgh Park Station: The platforms have been built and the slabs for the tram track are in place, running parallel to the railway line and close to Hermiston Gait retail park (on the right). Passengers will be able to switch from train to tram here via a short covered walkway

Airport: The other end of the line from the city centre, the airport tram stop will be located 150 metres from the main terminal with a covered walkway to get there. Trams are expected to run roughly every ten minutes on the 30-minute route once it opens. People will see trams running here long before that, though, because the stretch between the airport and the Gogar depot will be used as the main test track

Gogar depot: This will be the hub of the tram operation, where the trams will be washed, serviced and maintained. The depot, which also houses the control room, was handed over by the builders in December. A dozen trams can be seen parked in the stabling area. The mini-test track – already 
being used – runs in front of the depot, close to the road and the Gogar roundabout to the right