PASSENGER services on the new tram route to Newhaven are scheduled to start on June 7, the City of Edinburgh Council has announced.
The route, which has been under construction since November 2019, has been delivered on schedule and within the £207.3 million budget.
Council leader Cammy Day welcomed the news from Iona Street, where two historic cable wheels dating back to Victorian Edinburgh’s original tram system were lowered into place on Thursday.
The wheels, which are 2.6m in diameter, were rediscovered at the Pilrig Street junction with Leith Walk in August 2021 during Trams to Newhaven excavations and will now be put on permanent display as part of public realm improvements to Iona Street.
Rigorous testing has been undertaken to ensure the new constructed line runs effectively and safely, as well as the testing of software and signals. This included running trams at half and full speed and eventually to timetable.
As part of a joint venture, Sacyr, Farrans and Neopul (SFN) is delivering the main infrastructure & systems contract for the Edinburgh Tram York Place to Newhaven project.
Maria Ortega, project director at SFN JV, said, “This is a proud day for the Sacyr Farrans Neopul (SFN) JV team as we celebrate the new line coming into operation. We started work on Edinburgh Trams York Place to Newhaven four years ago, tasked with the delivery of one of the most important and complex light rail projects in the UK. Today we can say that we have achieved that vision successfully.
“I would like to thank the relentless efforts of our team throughout unprecedented times and recognise the power of the ongoing collaboration we have had with our client, our partners and our supply chain. It has been a privilege to operate within the communities of Leith and Newhaven and we extend our thanks to the local community. We hope that the city of Edinburgh will now begin to benefit from the wide-ranging social and economic benefits that a project of this significance will bring.”
UK MD of infrastructure at Turner & Townsend, James Corrigan, added, “Following our long-standing relationship with City of Edinburgh Council and successfully supporting the original project post mediation which led to the work for the project between York Place and Newhaven, we are delighted to see the new, improved line approach it’s final stages of construction and ready for full service.
“The project is an example of how significant investment in infrastructure can not only improve connectivity across a popular city centre but also contribute to the city’s green agenda. Collaboration with the full supply chain and client is something we pride ourselves on and this has certainly been key to driving performance during the construction of this major project.
“Working closely with all partners has helped to mitigate the challenges of supply chain issues and general volatility in the market post Covid-19, and enabled the project to remain on time and on budget. As local authorities look to provide more sustainable and efficient transport and meet their net zero aspirations, tram networks are becoming increasingly popular in the UK. Edinburgh has led the way in this revolution and is a superb exemplar for others to follow.”
City of Edinburgh Council leader, Cammy Day, said, “As we welcome back a piece of tram history to Leith Walk, it’s fitting that we’re also able to look forward to the future of Edinburgh’s tram network, and the start of passenger services on the brand-new line to Newhaven. While this is a moment for celebration, it’s also a chance to reflect on the last few years, and I’d like to take the opportunity to thank residents and businesses for their patience during this major, complex project.
“The completion of this line, delivering high capacity, clean transport to the densely populated north of the Capital, signifies our aspirations to become a sustainable, net zero city. And by improving connectivity to the waterfront, it won’t only promote further economic development in Leith, but will bring jobs and more affordable housing too.
“We’re now counting down the days to passenger services, and I’m pleased to say this project will be delivered within budget and on time. This is thanks to lessons learned from the previous project along with a great deal of hard work and dedication from our in-house council team who have led and delivered the project, as well as contractors involved in the construction process.”
Lea Harrison, MD of Edinburgh Trams, added, “The setting of a launch date for the new line is fantastic news for city residents and visitors, but particularly communities between the city centre and Newhaven. In recent years, thanks to the efforts of the entire Edinburgh Trams team, our multi award-winning tramway has become one of the most popular transport systems of its type thanks to a single-minded commitment to service excellence that will continue into an exciting new era.
“As we approach this major milestone in the history of Edinburgh Trams and the city, we can’t wait to welcome even more customers on board as we introduce swift and reliable services to the vibrant communities along the route, helping to unlock their full potential and providing a real boost for local businesses.”