Fri, 31/01/2014 - 14:35

As the service go-live date approaches, Tom Norris, our Director and General Manager, talks about the goings on at Edinburgh Trams in January.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the last few months have been extremely busy time for the Edinburgh Trams team…to say the least!  In December we hit our biggest milestone yet when we brought a tram through the city for the first time in 57 years. This was a proud moment for all of us and one that we’ve been working towards for quite some time. 

The depot out at Gogar closed between Christmas and New year and our team made the most of what was the last festive season before passenger service. I should add for the benefit of the staff team that this doesn’t mean that we’re cancelling Christmas in future!  The fact is that things will be different when we start operating a service.  What will stay the same is the determination and commitment shown so far by my team and we’re working hard to make sure this will shine through when passengers start using the tram.

The full team returned in early January and, as if they were never away, jumped straight back into our intense programme of testing and training on top of test timetable runs between Gogar Depot and the Airport. We now have full access to 'section B1', which runs from Gogar Depot to Edinburgh Park station. As the majority of our drivers have now passed initial training (essentially like passing a driving test) they now have to learn the route. As each section of track is handed over, they need to spend a specified time with a trainer and then gain a certain number of hours driving before they can be passed as fully qualified. 

As drivers have started to get more time on section B1, we’ve also seen more trams go into the city as part of the construction project led testing and commissioning process. There are many tests to be carried out and at this stage the city centre tram runs are taking place overnight.  As more tests are completed and integrated systems come on line we’ll move towards regular daytime testing.  This will take place over the coming weeks.

When not training and testing, the team have been focused on emergency exercises both internally and with the emergency services. This is a critical and challenging part of our preparations, as we have thirteen exercises to complete.  In January we tested our approach to a simulated security incident at Edinburgh airport and then, not long after, managed the tram test service during a real-life security incident. We’ve practiced emergency driver evacuations and a range of other scenarios to prepare the team for service out on the road. These exercises will allow us to provide a safe service for passengers and other road users when we go live and make sure we’re in the best possible position when faced with challenging situations.

Next time I’ll be giving an insight into the work of control centre team. These are the people who will conduct the safe running of our trams on a minute by minute basis in close contact with our drivers.