Trams on Track?

By Joanne Ogilvie
Despite recent speculation, officials have this week confirmed that the tram network currently under construction in the capital is indeed going ahead.

Edinburgh City Council Representatives have been under fire in the last few weeks, as rumours that the tram network; provisions for which have been taking place for months- has been neglected, because of lack of funds. The council have been particularly withdrawn in making comment to neither the press nor the public whilst a final decision on the matter was being disputed.

The £545 million project is expected to improve congestion on the streets of Edinburgh, and most importantly, create a main line between the city centre and Edinburgh Airport. Public speculation arose when it was found that the airport depot had not even been started, despite completion being due in a few weeks time. It was also revealed that the operation is currently £47 million under budget.

Work began on the 1st September 2008 at the Princes Street junction between Hanover Street and The Mound on October 1st, and is expected to commence for a further 4- 6 weeks yet. Work on the track running between Lothian Road and Princes Street was set to be complete at the end of November and the loose ends of the job are currently being tied together.

A representative for TramTime Scotland, yesterday cleared confusion, by saying:

“The tram from Newhaven to the airport (phase 1a) is going ahead as planned, but it has been decided that the second route (1b) from Granton to Haymarket will be put on ice until further funding is found.”

Section 1(a) is set to be completed 2009, with the final network to find completion in 2011. Edinburgh City Council told Edinburgh Napier News that in the Spring/ Summer 2009- a dummy train is being tested in an attempt to win round Edinburgh citizens that the tramline is going to benefit them. Spanish Company CAF is building Edinburgh’s 27 trams for the council. At 40m long and 5 tonnes in weight, Edinburgh’s trams will be able to carry 250 passengers at once, and there will be 12 trams every hour, and one every five minutes at peak times.

Work on St. Andrews Square is presently underway, but is taking a brief suspension to aid the Christmas embargo- this should be completed in January 2009.

Rob Winter, spokesperson for the Princes Street association, this week spoke with hope and anticipation when he told an Edinburgh paper:

“Princes Street is quite a magical place at Christmas. With the view of the castle and the winter wonderland, it really is photogenic and the full Christmas experience.”