Edinburgh trams: Hundreds of defects found on Leith Walk weeks before Trams to Newhaven launch

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Hundreds of defects found in Leith Walk ahead of major trams launch in Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s new tram line had almost 600 defects to be fixed just weeks ahead of its planned opening, it has emerged. The council has admitted there are ongoing disputes with the contractor over issues.

City residents have been assured services to Newhaven are on track to launch this summer. A project snagging list from February obtained through a freedom of information request revealed there were 590 outstanding defects, with the majority along Leith Walk. At that time 83 of a total 673 had been signed off and Edinburgh Council said more have been dealt with in the interim period.

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Updated figures were requested by the Local Democracy Reporting Service but were not provided by the council. The local authority said there are “ongoing discussions with the contractor regarding disputes relating to defects”. It said: “I consider that if this information were to be released into the public domain at this time, it would prejudice the discussions which are currently taking place.”

Trams to Newhaven is due to open in Edinburgh in JuneTrams to Newhaven is due to open in Edinburgh in June
Trams to Newhaven is due to open in Edinburgh in June

The vast majority of the defects – nearly 400 – were to do with ‘hard landscaping’ along the route, while over 100 were associated with trackslab – the concrete blocks underneath the tram rails. A map of the £207m Picardy Place to Newhaven extension highlighting problem hotspots showed that Leith Walk between Annandale Street and Pilrig Street was the section with the most defects, with more than 75 in that one stretch.

Councillor Scott Arthur, transport and environment convener, said: “As would be expected on a project of this scale and complexity, there will be snagging and defects which will be carried out by the contractor as part of an ongoing rectification programme. “The project will be delivered as specified, and to ensure this there will be regular updates to the Transport and Environment Committee on snagging.”

There will be a two year snagging programme which will continue after the launch of passenger services, similarly to the first project, according to the council. An update on the project going before the transport committee on Thursday (May 18) said: “The project remains on schedule to be operational by Spring 2023 and within the £207.3m budget approved by Council in March 2019.

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“Testing and commissioning is continuing with the project currently undertaking a set of tests on performance and timetable. Separately, the project is continuing with public realm works along the route. To note, works on the Picardy Place island site started during February 2023 and are scheduled to be completed by June 2023. While out with the remit of the Trams to Newhaven project, the project’s contractor SFN will be carrying out these works.”

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