Trams: Lesley Hinds cools claims of 2013 launch

Councillor Lesley Hinds has played down any prospect of riding a tram this year. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Councillor Lesley Hinds has played down any prospect of riding a tram this year. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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CITY transport convener Lesley Hinds today played down claims that people could be riding the trams by the end of the year.

Vic Emery, a former consultant to the £776 million project and former chairman of the now-defunct tram company TIE, told a conference he believed work was months ahead of schedule.

The official timetable is that trams will be up and running by next summer.

But Mr Emery, who is chairman of the Scottish Police Authority, told the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents conference : “I’ve nothing to do with Edinburgh trams any more.

“But I’m sure some people in Edinburgh will be using the tram service before the end of the year. It was OK when I left.”

However, Cllr Hinds said an announcement about the expected completion date would be made in the autumn.

She said: “Vic Emery is no longer involved in the tram project and, as I’ve previously said, we won’t speculate on the possibility that revised targets could be improved until we’re 100 per cent sure that they are achievable.

“In September, we will be in a position to announce a date when the travelling public will be able to use the tram.”

Mr Emery’s projected timsecale would mean the trams beginning operation about six months ahead of the council’s official launch date, but four-and-a-half years later than the one initially planned when funding was announced in 2003.

Earlier this year, the Evening News revealed trams are expected to be running along Princes Street by January next year – but without members of the public allowed to board them.

Empty trams are due to be tested on the full route between the city centre and the airport for six months before passengers get on board.

Transport chiefs said thorough testing was “essential” to ensure the line is working correctly before launch.

Meanwhile, work is due to start next month on the installation of overhead lines,

Overhead cabling will start in mid-June from York Place in the city centre and work west towards Haymarket.

Lines will be erected in Princes Street and in St Andrew Square during a series of night shifts.

The programme also includes underground cabling – 750 volt direct current power is fed into the overhead wires by a network of underground cables which will be pulled through ducts.

Cllr Hinds said: “Good progress continues all along the tram route and we’re now approaching a stage, in the city centre, where road works are nearly finished.”