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Edinburgh News 2009

29 November 2009: Princes Street back in use.
10 November 2009: Princes Street - Final Three Weeks
30 October 2009: Historical Project
15 October 2009: Construction Status
2 April 2009: New Chief for TIE
21 March 2009: Tram works dispute settled
3 March 2009: Tram mock-op popular
23 February 2009: Princes Street track works delayed

29 November 2009: Princes Street back in use.

Looking towards the island tram stop at the foot
of the Mound, just after 10 am on Sunday morning.

Edinburgh's famous main shopping thoroughfare has been re-opened on Sunday morning, 29th November to bus, taxi and cycle traffic, with all the fencing removed, allowing pedestrians to jaywalk again freely, according to the revised timetable. Despite being hampered by very strong winds and heavy rain, construction workers put in an enormous effort on extended shifts of night plus weekend working to get this part of the project finished in time for the Christmas shopping rush. It also means that the street will be available for the City's "Hogmanay Party", although that is more of a pop culture event, with the only traditional Scottish Hogmanay event being staged by the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra, but as a patron I would hold that view!

It has been very satisfying that the project so far has had a very good safety record, with no injuries to passers by and very few to tram workers. While work on this part of the City Centre is now finished, until the power lines are introduced, work continues on other parts of the route, and progress is now good in parts where no utilities need moved, such as preparation for track laying on the former 22 busroute reserved guided track.

The route diagrams below show the effect that the current financial situation and politics have had on the tram project. The first diagram shows the original hoped for route layout when the project was launched. But phases 3 and 4 were soon dropped from the scope of the current plans, which is unfortunate, as at Newbridge, just west of the M9/A8 interchange, a new industrial estate is being constructed with no public transport facilities. Phase 2 was postponed earlier this year on financial grounds, as the disagreement between TIE and Bilfinger-Berger would require additional funding to be allocated to phase 1, and the effect on the property market meant that less funding was forthcoming from property developers for allocation to the line from Haymarket to Granton (stops 22 - 14).

Meantime, there has been keen interest from hospital management in line 3, from the City Centre to Little France and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh with its associated medical research park.

Original projected tram routes at the start of the project.
Current extent of the project.
Note the additional Fife railway line interchange stop between
stops 8 and 9 on the West side of the city at the Gogar Depot.
The green dots show track crossover locations allowing for short workings.

10 November 2009: Princes Street — Final Three Weeks

The intention is to hand Edinburgh's main thoroughfare back to the City council on 29th November, with a public campaign of The buses are returning to Princes Street. As can be seen from the photographs below, progress is now quite rapid, involving also night and weekend working.
Current estimate for completion of the whole project is thought to be February 2012.

The driving segment mock-up was moved from
Ocean Terminal to outside the Caledonian Hotel
in October. Its next move will be to the Gyle.
Access to the island stop at the foot of the Mound
will be by pedestrian controlled lights.
(Outside the Body Shop).
An undocumented water supply tunnel for the New Town was unexpectedly found, diverted
during earlier construction work when the National Gallery was built at the bottom of the Mound.
The overall schedule for Princes Street was not allowed to suffer.
Night and daytime scenes show the track-laying progress at the pedestrian crossing
beside the National Gallery in two weeks to 9th November.
Looking along the entire length of Princes Street, only some track still needs to be embedded,
and it is mainly road and pavement finishing work that needs done.

30 October 2009: Historical Project

In 2006 former Edinburgh horse tram body No.23 dating from 1885/6 was identified in a Borders garden, having been used as a garden shed for 106 years. The owners kindly donated it to the Edinburgh Horse Tram Trust, which is a group of volunteers intent on restoring the vehicle, hopefully in time to be able to participate in the new tram system opening ceremony. Some work has already been done, as the body has been moved to Edinburgh to be worked on by professional coachbuilders. As always with a voluntary project such as this, there is a great need for funds, and anyone seeking more information or willing and able to contribute is asked to e-mail Alan Brotchie.

Progress to date can be guaged from the accompanying photographs.

Interior of car as found.
Paint being stripped prior to varnishing.
External inscription showing load capacity
(18 in and 18 Out).
External state of the car in early October,
new bulkheads, platforms and stairs under construction.
New underframe constructed, using
ex-Douglas, Isle of Man vehicle parts.

15 October 2009: Construction Status

Budget restraints of the current recession have resulted in the postponement of line 1B from Granton to Haymarket, leaving just the single line 1A to be completed. The dispute with Bilfinger-Berger has caused delays, and cost increases, although these are not as bad as suggested by the press and some irresponsible politicians. Much public ignorance still surrounds the whole project, including the persistent rumour that the line will only run to the Ingliston Park and Ride facility and not to the Airport itself.

Tracks will run over this road
used also by private hire airport taxis.
Tram terminal will be within green netting
within the shuttle bus area.
Green netting (tram stop) as seen from terminal building,
not as far as claimed by the anti-tram rumour mill.

TIE have announced that the project will still return Princes Street to the City at the end of November, although it has been admitted that elsewhere utility moves have taken longer than expected, as the old utilities had been in place generally for more than a century, and documentation was not as comprehensive as expected.

Progress on Princes Street trackworks.

Construction has been started on the Gogar Depot, after ground water problems due to an unexpectedly high water table had to be overcome.

Construction of the depot.

Meanwhile, Network Rail has conducted a public consultation about a new station, for which the design still has to be approved, to be built beside the Gogar Depot, to provide an interchange with the Fife rail line. Integrated transport interchange!? Whatever next!? This is a replacement concept for the rejected EARL (Edinburgh Airport Rail Link) scheme.

2 April 2009: New Chief for TIE

Richard Jeffrey, who was previously the managing director at Edinburgh Airport for six years until 2007 and is also the president of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, has been appointed as chief executive of tie and will take up the post in May..

Mr Jeffrey lodged an objection to the tram line five years ago when he was at Edinburgh Airport. The objection, which was on the grounds that the proposed tram halt was located in an area earmarked for potential future terminal expansion, resulted in changes to the plans and was settled after negotiations.

21 March 2009: Tram works dispute settled

A resolution has been reached in the dispute, which has seen construction work in Princes Street halted for four weeks. Following talks, the work will start on Monday next week.

The dispute between project company tie and their contractors Bilfinger Berger has been ongoing since 21 February and was due to go to arbitration before independent assessors if the latest talks between City Councillors, tie and the consortium were unsuccessful. It is reported that work will begin 'within the present contract and within the present budget envelope'.

3 March 2009: Tram mock-op popular

A mock-up of the new Edinburgh tram has been described as 'one of Scotland's busiest visitor attractions' by the city council after 22,000 people visited it in its first week on display The 130ft model is sited outside Jenner's in Princes Street.

The council said a poll of visitors showed 80 per cent were impressed, while TIE said that there was a real sense of excitement among people viewing the mock-up.

23 February 2009: Princes Street track works delayed

Track laying works were due to commence in Princes Street on Saturday 21st February 2009 but with the road closures already in place the works have been delayed, according to 'transport initiatives edinburgh', because the Edinburgh Tram Project was given 48 hours notice before the commencement of the works that the tram project consortium, BSC, comprising Bilfinger Berger, Siemens and CAF wished to impose unacceptable conditions as a requirement to start in Princes Street.

The planned implementation of the approved traffic management diversion which involves the removal of all vehicular traffic from Princes Street will still go ahead and it is understood that the tram mock-up will still be exhibited on Princes Street from Monday 23 February. Located outside Jenners, and will be open for visitors until Saturday, 14 March from 11am-6pm.

Edinburgh News 2009: top