Edinburgh trams: Two-way traffic to return to Leith Walk in February ahead of trams testing

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Two-way traffic will return to Edinburgh’s Leith Walk and the first test trams will run the length of Newhaven route within weeks.

Transport chiefs have signalled a “key moment” for the trams project as north and southbound traffic along Leith Walk will be reintroduced from 13 February, followed by the electrification of the full line. Powering the line will allow for testing and commissioning to begin, with the first test trams expected on the route at the beginning of March. Final track preparations will also take place in the lead up to the first test tram running.

All tram track, overhead line poles and communications and power ducting has been installed, 93 per cent of the overhead lines are in place and the final section at Picardy Place is being installed over the next two weeks. Councillor Scott Arthur, Transport and Environment Convener, said: "In just a matter of weeks we’ll see test trams running the length of the Trams to Newhaven route, which is really exciting. Energising the overhead lines and buffering of the tram tracks are the final steps before this happens.

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“Reopening Leith Walk to two-way traffic is a key moment for the project too and, I’m sure, for all those who live and work in the area. I’d like to thank residents and businesses for their patience and support while we’ve carried out these works.

Trams will run the length of the Newhaven routeTrams will run the length of the Newhaven route
Trams will run the length of the Newhaven route

“Once fully complete, this project will be transformative for Leith Walk and the rest of the route, while benefitting the wider city economy and helping to cut congestion. Not only will it provide reliable, high-capacity connections to the north of the city but has significantly improved and enhanced public spaces and active travel links along the line.”

The council said the Trams to Newhaven project remains on schedule for completion by spring 2023 and within the £207.3m budget, with all major construction now complete ahead of the testing and commissioning period. However, there are some works that will now be completed over the coming months. Bosses said this is due to industry wide challenges with the availability of materials and skilled labour, the impact of by Brexit and the war in Ukraine along with significant demand for labour in the UK and overseas.

A communications campaign has been under way to remind people and businesses about the electrification of overhead lines – including safety requirements and permits needed to carry out any work. This work was originally scheduled to take place in October but was re-programmed to allow key infrastructure works to be completed.

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To allow for work to connect the lines to take place, Edinburgh Trams services from the airport will terminate at the West End between 13-19 February. Full details of the updated programme are available on the Trams to Newhaven website.

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