Edinburgh trams: Opening date announced for Edinburgh's trams to Newhaven services along Leith Walk

Tram route to Newhaven starts passenger services nine years after original tram route opened

Passenger services will start running on the new tramline to Newhaven on Wednesday June 7, it was announced today.

Council leader Cammy Day said the route, which has been under construction since November 2019, had been delivered on schedule and within the £207.3m budget. The opening of the three-mile extension from York Place, down Leith Walk and along to Newhaven will come just over nine years after the original route from Edinburgh Airport to York Place was launched in May 2014.

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Rigorous testing has taken place over the last few months to ensure the newly-constructed line, software and signals work effectively and safely. It has included running trams at half and full speed and eventually to timetable, as well as work to integrate signalling and other connections with Edinburgh Trams’ control centre and also driver familiarisation. Standard timetable testing will continue on the route in the run-up to the launch of services on 7 June.

Trams will start passenger services on the route to Newhaven just over nine years after the opening of the original tram line in May 2014.  Picture: Scott Louden.Trams will start passenger services on the route to Newhaven just over nine years after the opening of the original tram line in May 2014.  Picture: Scott Louden.
Trams will start passenger services on the route to Newhaven just over nine years after the opening of the original tram line in May 2014. Picture: Scott Louden.

The announcement of the start date was made as two historic cable wheels dating back to Victorian Edinburgh’s original tram system were lowered into place in Iona Street. The wheels, which are 2.6m in diameter, were rediscovered at the Pilrig Street junction with Leith Walk in August 2021 during excavations for the extension and will now be put on permanent display as part of public realm improvements to Iona Street.

Councillor Day said: “As we welcome back a piece of tram history to Leith Walk, it’s fitting that we’re also able to look forward to the future of Edinburgh’s tram network, and the start of passenger services on the brand-new line to Newhaven. While this is a moment for celebration, it’s also a chance to reflect on the last few years, and I’d like to take the opportunity to thank residents and businesses for their patience during this major, complex project.

“The completion of this line, delivering high capacity, clean transport to the densely populated north of the Capital, signifies our aspirations to become a sustainable, net zero city. And by improving connectivity to the waterfront, it won’t only promote further economic development in Leith, but will bring jobs and more affordable housing too.“We’re now counting down the days to passenger services, and I’m pleased to say this project will be delivered within budget and on time. This is thanks to lessons learned from the previous project along with a great deal of hard work and dedication from our in-house council team who have led and delivered the project, as well as contractors involved in the construction process.”

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Edinburgh Trams managing director Lea Harrison said: “The setting of a launch date for the new line is fantastic news for city residents and visitors, but particularly communities between the city centre and Newhaven. In recent years, thanks to the efforts of the entire Edinburgh Trams team, our multi award-winning tramway has become one of the most popular transport systems of its type thanks to a single-minded commitment to service excellence that will continue into an exciting new era.

“As we approach this major milestone in the history of Edinburgh Trams and the city, we can’t wait to welcome even more customers on board as we introduce swift and reliable services to the vibrant communities along the route, helping to unlock their full potential and providing a real boost for local businesses.”

The council said that, although passenger services would run from June 7, outstanding public realm works would continue on some sections of the route.

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