A FURTHER milestone in Edinburgh’s delayed tram project has been reached – with the city taking delivery of its final £2 million carriage.
Our exclusive snaps show the final tram to join the Edinburgh fleet being trundled up the A1 on the back of a wide-load HGV trailer.
Progress permitting, it will join the network when it goes fully live in 2014.
The image is further evidence the project is finally crystallising after years of soaring costs and missed deadlines. One source said: “The last vehicle in the 27-strong fleet arrived from overseas after being delayed by the weather.
“Tram number 269 was brought over on Princess Seaways from Amsterdam and arrived in North Shields on Monday – three hours late having encountered choppy seas.”
Drivers are currently testing on a two-mile section of the line from the Gogar depot. Testing will continue until March.
The initial tram line between the airport and York Place is due to open in summer 2014, although transport chiefs are hoping to bring it forward by a few months.
Transport Minister Keith Brown told MSPs that he was increasingly confident the long-delayed opening date would be met, along with the revised budget of £776m.
However, tram officials recently told business leaders they were up to six months ahead of schedule, and suggested the route could even be opened at the end of next year.
Transport chiefs have repeatedly played down the claims and are understood to be concerned that a severe winter would set the project back yet again.
Traders in the West End, where the works have been among the most lengthy and disruptive, have been pushing for an early completion date on that section alone, instead of the summer 2013 target.
A council spokesman said: “With trams delivered and testing well under way between the depot and the airport, the project is progressing well. Everyone involved in delivering the trams is prepared for a productive 2013.”
Tram enthusiast Duncan Anderson, from Tyne and Wear, photographed the number 269 as it was unloaded from the boat.
He said: “I took the opportunity of going northwards along the A1 road, and stopped off at many interesting locations to take pictures of the tram.”
The arrival of the state-of the-art trams from the Basque region of Spain, where they are being built by railway manufacturer CAS, to the Capital is being tracked by the tram fan website britishtrams online.co.uk. With a capacity of 250 people and at around 43 metres in length, they are among the longest trams in Europe.