Key milestone reached in Edinburgh trams project as part of Leith Walk to reopen

A key milestone for Edinburgh’s trams to Newhaven project has been reached with Leith Walk set to reopen to two-traffic between Pilrig Street and London Road from Monday, the capital’s council has announced.

It comes after main contractor – the Sacyr Farrans Neopul joint venture – completed main construction works between Montgomery Street/Annandale Street and Pilrig Street, with fencing set to be removed from outside businesses and homes.

The City of Edinburgh Council confirmed that the full project remains on schedule for completion by spring 2023 and within its £207.3 million budget, with all construction anticipated to be complete by the end of 2022 ahead of a testing and commissioning period.

However, the local authority added that the programme for some specific sections of the route has changed due to industry-wide challenges relating to the availability of materials and skilled labour, as well as other issues including ‘complex utility conflicts’. As a result, it said that some stretches are scheduled to take longer than originally planned, including Melrose Drive and outside Ocean Terminal.

Maria Ortega, Sacyr Farrans Neopul project director on Edinburgh trams York Place to Newhaven, said, “We continue to make excellent progress on this project on behalf of our client The City of Edinburgh Council and we are delighted to be reopening this key section of Leith Walk to two-way traffic.

“As contractors we are working hard to ensure that continued progress is made throughout the remaining section of works. Despite the challenges of the pandemic and industry wide issues, we are proud of the progress we have made by working successfully alongside our partners, supply chain and client.”

Steve Jackson, project director Turner & Townsend, which is providing project management on the works, said, “As a project we have experienced numerous challenges, as well as industry wide issues, however collaborative working has played a key role to ensure that we have remained on track throughout the life cycle of the project.

“As we enter the final phase of construction works to deliver the Edinburgh Trams to Newhaven line, achievements such as this begin to bring the project together in real life and allow people to see the positive transformational impact this system will have for them.

“I would like to thank all project partners for their efforts to date and we look forward to making continued progress across the route.”

Councillor Scott Arthur, transport and environment convener at the City of Edinburgh Council, added, “It’s great news that this key section of Leith Walk will soon reopen and will start its transition to becoming a vibrant multi-modal transport corridor. Not only does it mark a major milestone for the Trams to Newhaven project but I’m sure it will be most welcome to businesses and residents along this part of the route. I’d like to thank all those living and working nearby for their patience throughout the programme of work.

“As the project nears completion, the progress made so far is clear to see. Once finished, it will be transformative for the area and beyond. As well as delivering a low-carbon, high capacity and clean mode of transport to this densely populated part of Edinburgh, it will create improved public spaces, active travel links and support future growth and development.

“I do of course recognise that changes to the programme, which are down to issues outwith our control, are likely to affect people and we’ll be working hard to share the latest information and will continue to look at ways in which we can mitigate against some of these delays. To ensure residents are kept safe, I have also asked that parking restrictions are robustly enforced along the route.”