First tram reaches Haymarket in test

The tram heads for Haymarket. Picture: Douglas McLellan

The tram heads for Haymarket. Picture: Douglas McLellan

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THE first tram test has been successfully completed on the stretch of line from Edinburgh Park to Haymarket.

In an exercise planned with military precision, the first tram trundled into Haymarket yesterday, but quietly and with no fanfare, apparently in a deliberate bid to avoid hordes of “tram spotters” disrupting the testing.

It was the first time one of the vehicles had run along the four-mile stretch from Edinburgh Park to Haymarket.

And city transport convener Lesley Hinds said the council was keen to give contractors the “space” they needed to complete their work.

The journey took roughly three hours and was finished by soon after 1pm as contractors guided the vehicle at very low speed into the West End.

The test was a contrast to the initial run from the Gogar depot to Edinburgh Park in October, when the route was packed with cameramen and transport experts who had turned out in force to witness the milestone.

This time, the little piece of history was witnessed purely by bemused bystanders who posted pictures on Twitter. Cllr Hinds explained: “This is another long section now under testing and it means there’s 11km of track in use.

“Of course, there’s more testing to come, so we’re very keen that the contractors have the space to do their work so we can keep pushing hard towards the service launch in May.”

The increased testing did not come completely without warning. Council workers had put up signs overnight at key spots along the stretch including near the Balgreen tram stop to warn of imminent testing.

Notices of the scheduled test had also been posted through the letterboxes of ­traders and residents close to the route.

But the authority had otherwise chosen not to publicly announce the step up in the testing schedule until after the first run had been successfully completed.

Indeed, the tram was briefly forced to stop while travelling through Haymarket Yards to allow caterer Brakes to finish a food delivery.

A second test of the line into Haymarket is scheduled for today, with the frequency and speed of runs to increase over coming weeks.

Green transport spokesman Councillor Nigel Bagshaw ­predicted there would be “huge” public interest in seeing trams in the city centre for the first time.

But he said: “I doubt people will be hanging on street ­corners waiting for them if they don’t know when they’re ­coming.”

Checks carried out yesterday included measuring clearances between the tram and electric poles, signs and wiring.

Testing along the final part of the route from Haymarket to York Place, including midnight runs along Princes Street, are expected to start within the next seven days.