History was made on Monday night (13 March), when the first tram in over 65 years ran down Leith Walk, as the Trams to Newhaven project nears completion.
Ahead of the route opening for service in spring 2023, a period of testing and commissioning is required to ensure the newly constructed line, software and signals work effectively and safely.
On Monday, the first stage of testing began, which involves trams travelling at a walking pace along small sections of the route, starting at Picardy Place. This will continue throughout the week, taking place at night to minimise traffic disruption.
Once the first stage is completed, the frequency and speed of tram testing will increase, and trams will start running to a timetable. Drivers on the route have carried out significant training in the lead-up to testing, including on a state-of-the-art simulator. People are still being encouraged to take care and be aware of the presence of trams on the route for the first time over the coming weeks.
Councillor Scott Arthur, Transport and Environment Convener, said:
This is a huge milestone for Trams to Newhaven as we see the first trams on Leith Walk in my lifetime. We’re fast approaching the start of passenger services this spring, and that the project is set to be delivered on time and within budget, despite the challenges of recent years, is testament to the hard work of all those involved.
Bringing the tram to Newhaven will be transformative for the area, and the wider city. As well as boosting the economy and providing sustainable, high-capacity public transport to this densely populated part of Edinburgh, the project has significantly improved the entire route, with new cycle links, spaces to relax and spend time and newly planted trees and shrubs.
As we enter the final phase of the project, testing and commissioning will make sure the line and infrastructure work safely and efficiently, while also confirming service capacity. Of course, this is the first time there will be trams on Leith Walk and in Leith in recent years so I would urge people to take extra care when in the area.
Lea Harrison, Managing Director of Edinburgh Trams, said:
To see one of our trams running along Leith Walk was a proud moment for us, and this latest milestone in the project will enable us to step up our own preparations for the launch of passenger services to Newhaven.
This includes real-world driver training on the new section of line following an intense period of familiarisation involving our state-of-the-art tram simulator.
The Trams to Newhaven project remains on schedule for completion by spring 2023 and within the £207.3m budget, with all major construction now complete. A specific date for when the route will be open for passengers will be announced in due course.
As part of the commissioning process, every aspect of the new infrastructure will be thoroughly tested to ensure it meets the required safety standards.
Find out more about Trams to Newhaven, including landscape plans and timelines.