Edinburgh's tram extension: Leith Walk faces longer closure after project hits problems

A long stretch of Leith Walk is to remain closed for an extra five months after the project to extend the tramline hit probems.

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The council said some conflicts with underground pipes and cables along the route were more complex than expected, leading to delays in the completion of the work in some sections.

The section of Leith Walk from London Road to Crown Street is now expected to be completed by July 2022 instead of winter 2021/22.

The Leith Walk section from London Road to Crown Street is now estimated to be completed by July 2022.

But the council said the overall project, taking the trams from the current terminus at York Place all the way to Newhaven, remained on track for completion in spring 2023.

In an update to mark the two-year point of the £207 million project, the council said 76 per cent of utility diversions had been completed and more than half the track laid.

But it said the programme for specific sections of the route had been affected by recent nationwide issues which had hit the entire construction industry, including the impact of the Covid pandemic, shortages of construction material and a lack of availability of skilled labourers.

"In addition, the project has come across utility conflicts at key junctions such as Jane Street, Bernard Street, McDonald Road and Tower Street that were more complex than expected and have impacted the completion date for certain sections.

“As a result, some stretches are scheduled to take longer than expected, including the Leith Walk section from London Road to Crown Street, which is now estimated to be completed by July 2022.”

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The work work on the London Road to Crown Street section started in summer 2020.

The extension will add three miles – with an extra eight stops – to the existing nine-mile route from the Airport to York Place.

Transport convener Lesley Macinnes said: “We are making good progress towards the delivery of Trams to Newhaven and many people have commented on the amount of track that has been laid so far.

“However, I do recognise the disruption this major project has caused to people living and working nearby, and that changes to the programme, which are down to issues out with our control, are likely to affect them. We’ll be working hard to share the latest information and provide support in the coming months and will continue to look at ways in which we can mitigate against some of these delays.

“Once complete, this project will play a key role in the future growth and development of the city. Delivering the tram line to Leith will unlock a large area of the city for housing and economic development, while providing a low-carbon, clean mode of transport to densely populated communities.

And vice-convener Karen Doran added: “As we mark two years of the Trams to Newhaven project it’s really encouraging that we remain on track for completion in spring 2023 and within budget, despite recent challenges.

“Once complete the project will transform this densely populated part of the city and I look forward to the benefits it will bring in the very near future.”

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