Edinburgh trams to Newhaven: Final tram track laid on Leith Walk after three years of disruption

Three years after construction began on the Trams to Newhaven project the final piece of track has been laid

The Trams to Newhaven project has reached a major milestone after laying the final piece of track connecting Edinburgh’s existing tram system to the new line.

The tram track was completed last night at Picardy Place and comes 22 months after the first tracks were laid on Leith Walk. The council said the project remains on schedule and added two-way traffic will ‘permanently resume’ between Great Junction Street and Duke Street this week.

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The completion of the track marks the culmination of all main infrastructure work that began in November 2019, including all track (4,585 metres) and installation of all 215 overhead line poles. Contractors have also completed 95 per cent of drainage and installed seven of the eight new tram stops.

The completion of the tram track marks the end of all of all main infrastructure work on the Trams to Newhaven project

Councillor Scott Arthur, Transport and Environment Convener, said: “This is a landmark moment in the Trams to Newhaven project – we now have a continuous line running from the airport to Newhaven, which will be carrying passengers in a matter of months.”

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The council advised further works this year include removing most of the fencing and filling excavations around lamppost columns along Leith Walk before sites close for Christmas in line with a construction industry-wide shut down. Testing and commissioning of the new line is due to commence early in the new year before they carry passengers in spring 2023.

While it was originally anticipated that two-way traffic would return to the full length of Leith Walk this week, the council said recent lack of concrete supply in addition to freezing weather conditions has impacted the necessary surfacing and paving works. The council said it hopes for two-way traffic to be reinstated to the length of the street in January. It said vehicles can still travel in both directions between London Road and Pilrig Street.

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Cllr Arthur said: “As we near completion the route is really taking shape – it will truly transform travel to the north of the city and boost the local economy. Not only will the tram provide a high capacity, sustainable form of transport for thousands each day, but improvements to the streetscape will create much more welcoming spaces for people walking, wheeling and spending time along the route.

“The project team has worked extremely hard to get to this stage, despite the Covid pandemic and industry-wide issues with labour and materials. While recent freezing weather has regretfully had a slight impact on plans, the majority of infrastructure work is complete, and the project remains on schedule for delivery on time and in budget by spring 2023.”

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Cllr Arthur added: “I’d like to thank all those living and working near their route for their patience. I look forward to delivering a tram service to your doorstep in the near future, and to the benefits it will bring you and the wider city.”