A tram at Edinburgh Park Central tram stop.
|Opening||scheduled May 2014|
|Owner||Transport for Edinburgh|
|Operator(s)||Edinburgh Trams Limited|
|Rolling stock||27 CAF trams|
|Line length||14 kilometres (8.7 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Electrification||750 V DC OHLE|
|Operating speed||70 km/h (43 mph) off-street|
Edinburgh Trams is a tramway undergoing preliminary testing in Edinburgh, Scotland. The first phase of the project consists of a sixteen-station, 14-kilometre (8.7 mi) link between York Place in New Town and Edinburgh Airport. Construction began in 2007, but was met with many delays and contractual disputes. Only two-thirds of the line proposed at the start of construction was later built. Originally, the line was meant to stretch from the airport to Newhaven, but this was truncated due to a funding crisis. A second line running from Haymarket to Granton Square has also been postponed indefinitely. A further proposal for a line serving the Southside was not approved by the Scottish Parliament and not funded. The tramway is operated by Edinburgh Trams Limited, a company owned by Transport for Edinburgh.
The first part of the tram system was originally scheduled to open in February 2011. By March 2010, project delays had resulted in the prime contractor revising their estimated completion date to 2014, and by the end of 2010 only 28% of the infrastructure had been completed. The whole scheme was originally costed in 2003 at £375 million. A report issued in August 2011 estimated that the final cost of the truncated network would be over £1 billion, including £228 million of interest payments on a 30-year loan to cover the funding shortfall.
- 1 History
- 2 Rolling stock
- 3 Operations, fares and ticketing
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Edinburgh's previous tram system, Edinburgh Corporation Tramways, ran from 1871 until it was decommissioned on the 16th of November 1956. Since then, public transport services consisted of buses and a limited network of commuter rail lines. Towards the end of the 20th century, there was revived interest in trams as a means of public transport, and several British cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Nottingham introduced new tram schemes.
Various proposals for a new Edinburgh tram network were made in the 1990s, and a plan to build a line along Princes Street and Leith Walk to Newhaven pier was unveiled in 1999 by the City of Edinburgh Council, Lothian and Edinburgh Enterprise and the New Edinburgh Tramways Company.
Proposals for a new Edinburgh tram network
The original 2001 proposal for Edinburgh Trams envisaged three routes across the city, lines 1, 2 and 3; the first being a circular route running around the northern suburbs, while the other two formed radial routes running out to Newbridge in the west and to Newcraighall in the south respectively. All lines would run through the city centre. In May 2004, a 15-year operating contract for Edinburgh Trams was awarded to Transdev, who were to operate and maintain the tram network. This contract was later cancelled in 2009.
Following these transport studies, two bills were submitted to the Scottish Parliament to reintroduce a tram network to Edinburgh. Both bills were passed in March 2006, and received Royal Assent in April/May. Only lines 1 and 2 received parliamentary permission, and funding the construction of the entire network was deemed impossible. Line 3, which was meant to be paid for by a proposed Edinburgh congestion charge, was scrapped when that scheme was heavily defeated in a referendum. For this reason the construction of the remaining two lines was split into four phases:
- Phase 1a would incorporate the construction of an 18.5-kilometre (11.5 mi) line from Newhaven to Edinburgh Airport via Princes Street, combining parts of lines 1 and 2.
- Phase 1b would involve the construction of a 5.6-kilometre (3.5 mi) line from Haymarket to Granton Square via Crewe Toll, comprising most of the remainder of line 1.
- Phase 2 would link Granton Square and Newhaven together, completing the line 1 loop.
- Phase 3 would have the airport line extended to Newbridge, completing line 2.
Nevertheless, the future of the tram scheme came under threat in 2007, when the Scottish National Party (SNP) published its manifesto for the Scottish Parliamentary election. In that document, the party made clear its intention to cancel the scheme, along with the Edinburgh Airport Rail Link, to save a total of £1.1bn. In the debate on the government's transport programme, various opposition politicians made statements defending the Edinburgh Trams project. In particular, Labour MSP Wendy Alexander said "The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change claimed that the costs were out of control, but they are not." Following a vote which it lost in the Scottish Parliament, the SNP-led minority Scottish Government agreed to continue with the line from the Airport to Leith on condition that no more public money would be supplied if the project overran. A report by Audit Scotland, commissioned by the Scottish Government, confirmed that the cost projections were sound. Initial costs for the scheme were estimated at £498 million, with £375 million in funding from the Scottish Government and £45 million from Edinburgh council.
On 25 October 2007, the City of Edinburgh Council gave approval to the Final Business Case. Approval was given by the Council on 22 December 2007 for TIE to sign contracts with CAF for the supply of the vehicles and BBS (a consortium of Siemens and Bilfinger Berger) for the design, construction and building of the network. Contract negotiations were concluded in April 2008, with construction of the network commencing in June 2008. Funding problems and political disputes led to scaling back of the original plans. In April 2009, Edinburgh City Council announced the cancellation of phase 1b of the project, citing problems caused by the global recession, saving an estimated £75 million. This decision meant that the construction of the line to Granton would not go ahead for the foreseeable future.
Tram works: 2007–2012
Until August 2011, the tram system construction project was overseen by Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (TIE), a company wholly owned by the City of Edinburgh Council, who were responsible for project-managing the construction of the tramway.
After the draft business case was accepted by the Scottish Government in March 2007, initial construction work commenced in July 2007, with the diversion of underground utilities in preparation for track-laying in Leith. These works followed a plan by System Design Services (SDS), a joint design team led by Parsons Brinckerhoff and Halcrow Group Limited.
The initial system uses a mix of street running and segregated off-road track, with conventional tram stop platforms. Stops are fitted with shelters, ticket machines, lighting and CCTV. The network will be operated from a depot at Gogar, close to the A8 roundabout, just north of the Gyle tram stop.
The route of the tram line required the construction of new bridges to cross railway lines at Edinburgh Park and Stenhouse, and a tunnel under the A8 near the Gogar roundabout. Existing bridges at Balgreen, Roseburn, Coltbridge and Craigleith have also been widened, and the Murrayfield Viaduct was adapted for trams to pass under it. The works to build a tram interchange at Haymarket station involved the demolition of a Category C(S) listed building, the former Caledonian Alehouse on Haymarket Terrace.
Some on-street sections of track had been laid into a special foundation with cobbled road surfacing designed to be sympathetic with the existing style of Edinburgh streets. This, however, was removed in many places due to objections from cyclists. The trams are powered by overhead cables, which are either attached to purposely-built poles or mounted to the sides of buildings. There were to be nine electrical sub-stations for the line to Newhaven, both underground and above-ground. The number of sub-stations was later reduced to five when the line was truncated to York Place.
Project revisions and delays
During the period between 2008 and 2009, the project was criticised for delays to work on tramway infrastructure, and in particular the closure of Princes Street. Transport Initiatives Edinburgh underwent some organisational change at this time; in November 2008, Willie Gallagher stepped down as executive chairman of the company. David Mackay, then Chairman of Transport Edinburgh Limited, took over as interim chairman until he was replaced in May 2009 by Richard Jeffrey.
In April 2009, phase 1b of the tram construction project was cancelled due to financial problems. Ongoing contractual disputes also delayed track-laying work in the city centre. In December 2009, there were media reports that the project budget was running over £545 million, and that the tram system was likely to come into operation at least seven months late, putting the launch date back to February 2012 or later. Reports in January 2010 suggested that certain important milestones of the construction schedule had slipped by up to two years. In March 2010, Bilfinger Berger announced that the construction work would be delayed by a further 30 months, with an estimated completion date in 2014. This estimate was disputed by the Council, which claimed a completion date in 2012 was still feasible. The operating contract with Transdev was also cancelled in December 2009, to reduce costs; the trams are instead to be operated by Edinburgh Trams Limited, a company owned by the City of Edinburgh Council.
In February 2009, work on the Princes Street section of the works was stopped due to contractual disagreements between TIE and the construction BSC consortium. BSC reportedly submitted a late request for an additional £80 million funding which TIE was unable to meet. Dave Anderson, Edinburgh City Council's Director of City Development, expressed the view in an interview with the BBC's You and Yours radio programme, that the contractors' claims were unjustified as they had agreed to fixed-price contracts and to bear the project risks. After negotiations, BSC agreed to commence construction work in March 2009 within the original budget, although ongoing disagreements remained. Work recommenced and line construction went ahead. In August 2009, TIE began legal proceedings against the BSC consortium over delays to the project, and track-laying works on Leith Walk, Shandwick Place and Haymarket were suspended pending the outcome. At issue were a number of alleged changes to BSC's work specification, including track works on Princes Street and £5 million additional costs on foundation work near Murrayfield Stadium. The BSC consortium also alleged that TIE had not diverted the underground utilities in time for track-laying to begin, thus breaching contractual agreements and costing the consortium additional staffing expenditure. In January 2010 the independent arbiter found in favour of TIE on some points, but on most of the disputed issues the arbiter ruled in favour of BSC and awarded the consortium 90% of their additional costs, estimated to be worth up to £80m.
Delays in track laying and depot construction affected tram vehicle testing. By September 2009, the construction work was reported to be nine months behind schedule, and CAF was due to deliver the first newly built tram vehicles from its factory in Spain. With a key project dependency out of synchronisation, TIE held discussions with Transport for London about delivering the trams to Croydon to conduct operational tests on the Tramlink network. In the end, tram vehicle testing commenced in March 2010 on the Siemens test track in Wildenrath, Germany, and in August 2011, Tramlink ordered new trams from Stadler Rail. The tests included artificially recreating the steep gradients of Leith Walk and using weights to simulate the heavy passenger load expected during a Murrayfield match day.
Following further disputes and delays to the project, it was reported in March 2010 that Edinburgh City Council were considering cancelling the contract with Bilfinger Berger. By June 2010, the cost of the project had risen to £600 million or more. City Council project managers were reported to be in crisis talks, considering a number of options including: borrowing an extra £55 million to fund the increased costs; phasing the introduction of the tram line, so that trams would initially run only between the airport and Haymarket; and terminating the contract with Bilfinger Berger. The Council asked TIE to draw up detailed costs for truncating the tram line at four possible termini: Haymarket station, York Place, the foot of Leith Walk or Ocean Terminal.
In May 2011, it was announced that contractors would return to work at priority locations (Haymarket Yards, Gogar roundabout and the depot) while the future of the project was decided. In addition, a 10-month programme of remedial work on Princes Street tracks that had been laid earlier was announced, due to crumbling tarmac. The same month, Richard Jeffrey resigned as chief executive of TIE after two years in the job. Shortly after Jeffrey's resignation, four non-executive directors and the communications director of TIE also resigned. This was followed by the introduction of a voluntary redundancy scheme aimed at halving the headcount of the company. In August 2011, it was announced that further redundancies would be made following the appointment of international consultancy Turner & Townsend to take over management of the project from TIE. TIE itself was disbanded as a company and the directors were awarded severance payment totalling £406,635.
On 30 June 2011, the City of Edinburgh Council voted to continue with the project (albeit only between Edinburgh Airport and St Andrew Square), with costs having risen to an estimated £770m, leaving the Council with a shortfall of more than £200m. The option of scrapping the project was considered, but rejected. On 25 August 2011, the Council voted to cut the line further to run only between the airport and Haymarket, reducing the expected cost to £715m. A week later, after the Scottish Government threatened to withhold £72 million of funding, they reversed this decision, restoring the terminus at St Andrew Square. On 29 November 2011 it was announced that the eastern terminus of the tram line would be at York Place instead of St Andrew Square; the intention had been to build the tracks to a reversing point at York Place (but without a stop for passengers). By extending passenger services from St Andrew Square to an additional stop at York Place this would enable Broughton Street, Picardy Place and the surrounding area to be better served at comparatively little additional cost.
The first electric wires were energised in October 2011, above newly laid track within the depot at Gogar. Testing of trams began in December 2011 on the first part of the line to be completed (adjacent to the depot at Gogar, approximately 500 metres (550 yd) in length). On 15 December 2011 the depot was officially handed over from the contractors to the City of Edinburgh Council.
The first section of the line to be completed was between the depot and Edinburgh Airport, in late 2012. Using this section of line, on 19 December 2012 the first test operation of a tram operating at full speed was made.
Criticism of the works
Ongoing delays in the tram works were criticised by local businesses, who claimed that their income had been adversely affected by long-term road closures in the centre of Edinburgh since 2008, and by Edinburgh residents who have voiced dismay over the delays. Construction project delays have also been criticised for causing an obstruction across the city during the 2009 Edinburgh Festival and Fringe. Construction was halted once again in January 2010 due to freezing temperatures.
Cycling groups in the city have voiced safety concerns after some cyclists suffered accidents when their bicycle wheels became caught in tracks. They also reported that the road surface around the tracks was crumbling, raising further safety problems. In response, TIE carried out road repairs and Edinburgh Trams agreed to fund special training for local cyclists. Further safety concerns have been raised by residents along the tram routes about the suspension of overhead electric cables from residential buildings, with some property owners refusing to give permission for the cables to be attached.
On September 2011, Princes Street was closed again to all traffic for around 10 months to allow repairs on the crumbling tarmac around the unused tram lines. City centre residents filed a complaint with the UNECE Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee in December 2011, arguing that traffic diversions through residential streets during the protracted construction of the tramline has resulted in increased pollution and noise, to the detriment of residents' health. The Council countered that monitoring was ongoing and no sites data breached EU limits. Further road closures in the West End were implemented on 23 March 2012. The road between Haymarket and through to Shandwick Place was to be closed for works until July 2013. This closure was extended, and the road instead reopened on 19 October 2013.
2013 to present
Work since late 2012 continued mostly on schedule, and there was even talk of opening the tram system by Christmas 2013, earlier than the original summer 2014 deadline. However, it was revealed on 31 May 2013 that more than 150 metres (160 yd) of concrete trackbed would have to be replaced between Shandwick Place and Haymarket, because the concrete was not laid to the correct specifications. Edinburgh Council issued assurances that this would not affect the original deadline.
Contractors later admitted their error with regard to the concrete, and remedial works began. This led to further disruption of Shandwick Place and Haymarket, which was originally intended to be free of track works by September 2013. Michael Apter, chairman of the West End Association, stated that "There was a lot of optimism at Easter  and the back of Easter about trams running as early as autumn. It was only with the discovery of these errors that has kicked that back". He added that the date for completion of the trams hung in the balance. Edinburgh Council did not release a revised timeline until September, but insisted in August that the remedial works while "taking longer than initially estimated", would "not impact upon the overall timeframe". In June 2013, overhead electric wires were installed on the city centre portion of the route. This has been considered the "last major step" in the construction process.
Continuing criticism has been launched at the tram project, even as it has neared completion. The Edinburgh Evening News reported in August 2013 that the tram would take eight minutes longer to travel between the airport and city centre than the existing bus service. Marco Biagi, a Member of the Scottish Parliament for Edinburgh Central, issued a statement saying "People used to think the tram line was just an overpriced upgrade for the airport bus. Now we all know it's just an overpriced downgrade".
Particular controversy erupted over concessionary travel for the elderly and disabled. Originally, it was planned that concessionary travel, that is the ability of those with a Scottish National Entitlement Card to travel on public transport free-of-charge, was not going to be offered on the tram system. This was despite the fact that Edinburgh Trams is to be run by Lothian Buses, who are mandated to offer free travel to those with concession cards on all their bus routes. This revelation quickly caused city leaders to support an Edinburgh Evening News campaign to ensure that concessionary travel would be offered on the new tram system. City transport convener Lesley Hinds stated "People in Edinburgh have paid through their council tax and their taxes for the trams to get up and running and it would be wrong for a large proportion of the population not to be allowed to use their concessionary bus pass".
Despite this, the Scottish Government refused to pay for concessionary travel for the tram scheme, as it does for all bus routes in Scotland. Talks between the Scottish Government and Edinburgh Council eventually decided that concession cards should be valid for tram travel, but that they should be paid for by the Council instead of the Government. It was revealed on 15 August 2013 that the cards would be valid, and that travel would be paid for by Edinburgh Council. However, only people with cards issued in Edinburgh would be able to use them. This compromise upset many people in the Lothians, who often commute or travel into Edinburgh. On 12 August 2013, it was reported that the future drivers of the trams were beginning to be trained on the completed section of track between Edinburgh Airport and the Gogar depot. On 15 August 2013, Edinburgh Council announced the creation of Transport for Edinburgh, a new public body to oversee public transport in Edinburgh, including both buses and trams. Lesley Hinds stated: "Our first priority will be integration between bus and tram services and we will have the executive directors of Lothian Buses on the board of the new organisation".
Edinburgh Council announced on 17 September 2013 that works on the tram scheme were running two months ahead of schedule, and also that the system would be open by May 2014. All tram and road works were completed by 19 October. Testing of the trams between the depot and Edinburgh Park began on 8 October 2013. This was followed by the energising of tram wires from Bankhead tram stop to York Place on 19 November, marking the first time that the route was completely energised. Testing along the full length of the route began in the early morning on 5 December.
A £40 million contract to build twenty-seven trams, sufficient for both the phase 1a and (unbuilt) 1b lines, was awarded to CAF. However, as the line was cut back to York Place, only seventeen of the trams would be needed. An unsuccessful attempt was then made in 2011 to lease the extra trams to Transport for London for use on Tramlink.
The Edinburgh trams, built to meet TIE's specifications, are bi-directional, 42.8 metres (140 ft) long and built with low-floor access to meet UK Rail Vehicle Access Regulations for disabled people. Passenger capacity will be 332 with 80 seated and 250 standing and the trams will be fitted with CCTV.
TIE specified for the tram rolling stock to be able to cope with the steep slopes of Edinburgh streets and offer a suitable visual fit to "complement the streets the trams will be travelling on."
A full size mockup of the front of the proposed tram was constructed in 2009 and put on display on Princes Street for the public to view, later moving to Constitution Street at the foot of Leith Walk in April 2009.
On 28 April 2010, the first real full-length tram was delivered to Edinburgh, and was put on display (on its rails) at the Princes Street stop at the bottom of The Mound. It was subsequently moved to open storage in Broxburn. The final tram was delivered in December 2012.
To create a visual continuity between the tram fleets and local bus services, Edinburgh trams will have the same livery as that of Lothian Buses. The tram mockup shown in 2009 was decorated with the red and gold "harlequin" design that was introduced on Lothian Buses in the 1990s. Following the announcement of a rebranding of the bus fleet in April 2010, Lothian Buses reintroduced their traditional madder and white livery, and the tram livery was updated to a matching colour scheme.
As part of the creation of Transport for Edinburgh, a new unified bus and tram livery was introduced on 17 December 2013. It features the use of madder, white and gold for buses, whereas the trams feature madder, white and platinum.
Operations, fares and ticketing
The 14-kilometre (8.7 mi) route begins running on-street at York Place, in the city centre. It then turns into North St Andrew Street, where it proceeds into St Andrew Square. From the square, the line heads southeast into Princes Street, and then west along that street toward Haymarket, via Shandwick Place, Atholl Place, and West Maitland Street. At Haymarket, the route heads off-street onto a segregated track that runs parallel to the Glasgow to Edinburgh mainline. It follows the railway line west for about 6.8 kilometres (4.2 mi), until it reaches Edinburgh Park railway station. At that station, it leaves the railway line on a segregated track and heads north to Gogar Roundabout. From the roundabout, the route heads northwest via Ingliston Park and Ride to Edinburgh Airport, where the line terminates.
Ticketing and fares will be fully integrated with Lothian Buses. The fare for a single journey on the tram network will be the same as on Lothian Buses, and day tickets and Ridacards will be valid on both the trams and buses. Journeys to Edinburgh Gateway, and beyond to Edinburgh Airport will require a supplement, the cost of which has not been determined.
Free travel will be available to those with Scottish National Entitlement Cards that have been issued in Edinburgh. Passengers living outside Edinburgh will be expected to pay full fare on the Edinburgh Trams.
At the request of Lothian Buses, installation of 30 ticket machines at key bus stops began in 2007. These allowed passengers to purchase tickets before boarding their bus reducing dwell times and giving more time to select the right ticket for their journey. The ticket machines were to have been modified to issue tram tickets once the service began. Due to lack of popularity with users the machines were scrapped in 2011. It is still planned to install similar on-street ticket machines at tram stops before the tram service opens.
Fifty-two ticket inspectors have been hired to guard against fare dodging. This amounts to three inspectors per tram, as there are seventeen trams being prepared for service. Edinburgh Council has said that they are aiming for three-percent fare evasion rate, lower than any other tramway in Britain. Nevertheless, the level of staffing has been criticised by various bodies as being "excessive".
Journey times and frequency
The tram is proposed to operate every seven-and-a-half minutes, with a journey time of approximately 33 minutes from the city centre to the airport. The service is expected to run from 06:00 until midnight on Monday through to Saturday. On Sunday, it is proposed that service will run from 07:00 until midnight.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Edinburgh Trams.|
- Official website
- Video footage of Edinburgh Trams undergoing tests in Germany (BBC News Reporting Scotland, 4 March 2010)
- Auditor Generals Report on Tram Scheme June 2007
- Edinburgh Tram (Line One) Bill Committee
- Edinburgh Tram (Line Two) Bill Committee
- Edinburgh Tram (Line One) Act 2006
- Edinburgh Tram (Line Two) Act 2006