Edinburgh trams: First daytime testing for Edinburgh trams to Newhaven begins along Leith Walk

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Latest stage in Edinburgh trams testing on new route to Newhaven begins

Test trams will appear during the day on the route between the city centre and Newhaven for the first time today, Wednesday, April 19. The milestone follows a month of successful overnight testing and commissioning, including initial walking speed trams, more recently reaching 20mph, and work to integrate signalling and interface with Edinburgh Trams’ control centre.

From today, Edinburgh Trams will begin running test trams from morning into the afternoon, which will allow the 40 newly-recruited drivers, along with experienced colleagues, to become familiarised with the route. Up until now, drivers have been training on a state-of-the-art simulator, featuring the existing line and a simulated version of the new track to the north of the city. Testing to ensure the newly constructed line, software and signals work effectively and safely will also continue and over the coming weeks test tram frequency is expected to increase to a full timetable, as the launch of passenger services approaches.

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Councillor Scott Arthur, transport and environment convener, said: “Seeing trams running the length of Leith Walk and beyond during the day will give a real taste of the future of the route – this is an exciting moment. Of course, this is the first time that the new trams will be on the line in the daytime, so I would encourage everyone to take extra care when in the area.

Trams made their way up Leith Walk today for testing.Trams made their way up Leith Walk today for testing.
Trams made their way up Leith Walk today for testing.

“We’re on the cusp of passenger services beginning, with the project delivered on time and in budget, and this is the culmination of a great deal of hard work by all those involved, despite the challenges of the last few years. We can now look forward to a green, high-capacity transport link between the centre and north of the city, which will transform travel along the route, help boost the economy and open up development opportunities.”

Edinburgh Trams’ managing director Lea Harrison added: “Our innovative approach to driver training has delivered numerous benefits for our business but, ultimately, the focus has been on keeping everyone safe. This is why we put new recruits and existing tram drivers alike through rigorous training and ongoing professional development programmes to maintain the highest safety standards.”

Edinburgh Trams’ assistant marketing manager and driver Nicola Mearns said: “I am beyond delighted to be one of the first female members of the team to drive a tram to and from Newhaven throughout the day. After receiving thorough training on our in-house simulator, testing today has allowed my colleagues and I to put our knowledge into practice whilst familiarising ourselves with the new section of the line. This is definitely an exciting time for everyone involved at Edinburgh Trams.”

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The Trams to Newhaven project remains on schedule for completion by spring 2023 and within the £207.3 million budget, with all major construction now complete. The route is expected to be open for passengers in June.