Edinburgh Trams: Warning as power cables go live

Overhead power cables at Edinburgh Park. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Overhead power cables at Edinburgh Park. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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HUNDREDS of homes and businesses along Edinburgh’s tram route have been sent letters warning overhead power cables on the tram route are about to go live.

The missive warns any contact with the current-carrying-cables could lead to potentially fatal consequences.

A council insider said: “People aren’t used to the network having electricity flowing through it so we desperately need to get this safety message out to people.”

The power switch will be flicked on overhead power lines from the Bankhead tram stop to York Place on November 19, sending power surging through the entire eight-mile route for the first time.

The switch-on comes ahead of widespread tram testing across the entire route from next month.

Works within ten metres of any part of the line – an area labelled the “tram hazard zone” – will be banned without written approval from the city council.

The council said the lines –installed about 18ft above the tracks – do not pose a threat to pedestrians and motorists or those living and working close to the tramway, but warned traders such as window cleaners were most at risk if working near the route. Each of the lines will carry 750 volts. Direct exposure to voltage levels of 500 to 1000 volts can result in internal burns and potential death.

Busy sections of the tram route including Princes Street and Haymarket being electrified represents another milestone in the £776 million project.

City transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said: “Anyone who lives in or owns a property near the tramway and needs to carry out work within a ten-metre vicinity of it needs to be aware of these important safety measures.

“We’ve been in contact with hundreds of residences and businesses along the route and we’re urging them to read the guidance and approach us to agree a safe way of working.

“In normal circumstances, the overhead wires are high up, out of the way and safe, but they can pose a danger if appropriate guidelines aren’t followed when working nearby.”

Letters were mailed out to those close to the tramway on Thursday. Applications to carry out works within the hazard zone will have to be submitted to the council at least three weeks in advance.

The latest move comes with tram test journeys from Edinburgh Park to the Gogar depot having started last month.

The schedule for full testing will involve up to 180 “ghost trams” – vehicles empty of passengers that will run mainly at night – travelling along the full route.

Midnight trials along the likes of Princes Street are expected to avoid peak-time disruption and to avoid a public backlash at empty carriages cruising through the Capital.

The News told last week how the council has launched a major campaign to recruit an army of ticket inspectors, or clippies.

Council’s bright sparks release guidelines

Under the council’s strict guidelines, approval will be needed for:

Any work where part of the site such as tools, materials, machines or suspended loads could enter the Edinburgh tram hazard zone. Examples include window cleaning or other work using ladders.

Any work that could force pedestrians or road traffic to be diverted into the hazard zone.

Excavation within three metres of any pole supporting overhead lines.

Piling, using a crane, or erecting and dismantling scaffolding within four metres of the hazard zone.

Any work where vehicles fitted with cranes, tippers or skip loaders could come into contact with power cables.