A vision of integration for Edinburgh

Posted: 6 December 2005 | Alex Macaulay, Projects Director, tie limited | No comments yet

In 2003, tie limited undertook a public consultation on the introduction of a light rapid transit system for City of Edinburgh Council.The consultation focused on routes for Tram Line One (North Edinburgh) and Tram Line Two (West), forming a network that is a core element of the Council’s vision for an integrated transport system in Edinburgh.

In 2003, tie limited undertook a public consultation on the introduction of a light rapid transit system for City of Edinburgh Council.The consultation focused on routes for Tram Line One (North Edinburgh) and Tram Line Two (West), forming a network that is a core element of the Council’s vision for an integrated transport system in Edinburgh.

In 2003, tie limited undertook a public consultation on the introduction of a light rapid transit system for City of Edinburgh Council.The consultation focused on routes for Tram Line One (North Edinburgh) and Tram Line Two (West), forming a network that is a core element of the Council’s vision for an integrated transport system in Edinburgh.

In cities across the UK and Europe, trams have proven themselves a successful means of attracting drivers out of their cars and onto public transport. It is anticipated that tram passengers will make 20 million journeys a year, providing reliable transport links throughout Edinburgh.

In December 2003, Edinburgh Tram (Line One) Bill and Edinburgh Tram (Line Two) Bill were submitted to the Scottish Parliament. Since then the Committees have heard evidence on behalf of the promoter, City of Edinburgh Council and from objectors, initially on the ‘Principle of the Bills’, of whether or not trams are generally a good idea for Edinburgh.

By spring of this year, the Scottish Parliament had voted overwhelmingly to move trams forward to the consideration stage. This vote was a vital step for the future of public transport in Edinburgh as the network will play a major role in the future of Edinburgh’s transport system.With this, the surest indication to date that trams will proceed, tie continues the process as Parliament enters into the detailed stage of deliberations.

Throughout the process, tie has continued to consult with objectors to ease concerns and a number have now withdrawn their objections.

The withdrawal of objections from Forth Ports, Royal Yacht Britannia, Ocean Terminal, BHS,Arcadia and Debenham’s signaled that the major retail interest in Leith, one of Edinburgh’s foremost regeneration areas, is comfortable with the plans.

Historic Scotland, the agency responsible for safeguarding Scotland’s heritage on behalf of the Scottish Executive, also withdrew their objections. The body indicated its confidence that mechanisms are in place to address issues affecting the historic environment. This was a significant step for the project, due to its location in a historic city with UNESCO World Heritage status.

Scottish Natural Heritage, BAA, Royal Mail, Network Rail and Scotrail amongst others, most recently withdrew objections following detailed negotiation with agreements reached on access, property and protection of operation, including an agreement with Network Rail regarding works close to railway lines and the minimisation of impact on telecommunications systems.

The process of negotiation and agreement with major parties is one which will have an enormous impact on the tram project going forward. It is these partnerships, formed before Royal Assent, which will smooth the way during implementation. Ian Kendall has been appointed to manage the implementation of the Edinburgh tram network. Ian, who as procurement manager of tie limited managed the appointment of Transdev as the tram operator, has been assigned the role of Tram Project Director with the intention that he will take the tram project through to completion. Supported by a full team of consultants and engineers, Ian will be particularly focused on four key areas:

  • Construction of the tram lines, due to complete by 2010
  • Delivery of a fleet of modern trams which fit the historical landscape in Edinburgh
  • Financial control, to ensure the project stays within financial parameters
  • Integration with other forms of transport, including the existing Edinburgh bus network, ticketing and operation.

The procurement and delivery of the tram scheme has been designed to ensure that both timing and cost are tightly managed. The best way to do this is to ensure that we do as much in-depth preparation as possible, including advance utility works, detailed design and some advance land purchase in readiness for the network construction phase, which can then be more effectively controlled when it begins in 2007. In parallel with objector negotiation, tie has been working to inject detail into the plans in a number of areas.


The effect of the tram proposals on the natural environment in Edinburgh is being investigated in some depth. Tram Line One passes through an Urban Wildlife Site and careful consideration has been given to protecting the natural landscape and wildlife, as well as retaining the area’s leisure use. tie has prepared a Landscape and Habitat Management Plan, which researches the potential impacts of the tram. As part of this research, tree and badger surveys have been undertaken and badger facilities are being identified for future development.A survey of vegetation and birds is also being carried out to identify any species of note, and to identify nesting birds using the areas close to the routes. The results of these surveys and research will be used to ensure that the landscape of Edinburgh remains viable and flourishes alongside new developments.


tie has set out Noise and Vibration Policy to deal with potential noise caused by the operation of the network. In the absence of any statutory requirements governing noise mitigation from rail systems in Scotland, tie felt that it was appropriate to draw up its own approach, to ease concerns of residents and businesses around the lines and to provide reassurance that the tram will not add appreciably to the existing levels of noise within the city.

In those rare cases where problems do arise, tie is committed to applying mitigation measures that will reduce tram noise to levels that are well within socially acceptable limits, enabling occupants of nearby properties to live and work without disturbance.

Technical support services

Following a comprehensive procurement process to provide Technical Support Services for the Edinburgh tram network, tie appointed Scott Wilson Railways.

The Scott Wilson team includes expertise from Turner & Townsend, Interfleet Technology and Aedas Architects who are working with tie and the scheme’s promoter, City of Edinburgh Council, to provide additional technical resource to the tie project management team. This includes dedicated engineering support and specialist advice on safety and quality as the technical plans for the delivery of the tram network move forward.

Systems design services

Following an extensive procurement process, tie limited has appointed international consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff to provide System Design Services and Steer Davies Gleave in association with Colin Buchanan to the Joint Revenue Committee Contract for the Edinburgh tram project.

Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB), which has a similar role on the Merseytram project in Liverpool, are focussing on designing the systems behind the delivery of the tram project, to ensure minimal disruption for the city.

One element of the project that PB are responsible for is the development of a detailed traffic management plan, to ensure that traffic in the city keeps moving throughout construction and to minimise disruption on the city’s roads.


To facilitate the efficient installation of the tram network in Edinburgh it will be necessary to relocate a number of existing utilities to locations out with the area of the tracks. This will allow future access for maintenance once the tram system is up and running. Experience has shown that previous tram projects have found significant difficulty with this aspect of the construction process with some cities having to dig up streets anything from three to eight times when the utility companies have undertaken this work independently and without co-ordination. This causes significant disruption to the public.

tie are working on an agreement that will form a single framework contract for the movement of utilities, will seek to allow all apparatus to be moved at the same time, project managed by one contractor, and taking on board specialist assistance from each utility company where necessary through a partnership structure.A UK first, the deal is expected to avoid unnecessary disruption, and will result in a more efficient overall delivery of the tram project.

It’s important to note that one third of the 23 km of tram track do not have any utilities underground.

This agreement is an example of the innovative approach tie has taken throughout this project, to ensure that we deliver the best for Edinburgh. By working together with utilities companies we not only save the public money, but we can also minimise the disruption of what will be an extensive construction project.

Other cities, which are now experiencing the benefits of their tram network, endured disruption through the approach to utility works meaning that streets were disturbed up to eight times.We hope that the Edinburgh public recognise that the utility plans for Edinburgh are a progressive UK first, designed to deliver a world class tram system for a world heritage city.

Construction and operation

It is hoped that both Bills will be passed by Parliament early in 2006 and the construction of the tram network can begin, with proposed completion in 2010.A construction partner has yet to be identified. The tender process will begin in March 2006, along with a tender for vehicle provision. It is expected that the tender awards will take place in June 2007. Both tenders will run in line with the design manual, which has been created by the Promoter to ensure that the aspirational principles of design and delivery are maintained throughout the network.

During the past 14 months tie has been working in partnership with TRANSDEV, the tram operator which was appointed after a comprehensive tendering process in 2004. TRANSDEV operates and maintains over 7,200 transport vehicles, including 750 light rail vehicles. In Portugal, it operates and maintains the Porto Light Metro network and in Australia, operates Melbourne’s tram system with its Australian partner Transfield. TRANSDEV is also responsible for light rail systems and other transport in Strasbourg, Montpellier, Nantes, Grenoble and Orleans. In the UK, TRANSDEV recently started operation of the new Nottingham tram and owns 18 per cent of municipal bus company, Nottingham City Transport.

By working closely with TRANSDEV from an early stage to assist in the planning and delivery of the tram network, it is hoped that the Edinburgh scheme can avoid the pitfalls that other schemes have faced when they appointed an operator to run a network that was designed and built in isolation.

The tram network is part of an integrated transport initiative to improve public and private transport systems and increase travel choices in and around Edinburgh. tie is working with its partners to deliver a tram network that will equal the best in Europe, and reinforce Edinburgh’s status both as a European capital city and a World Heritage Site. Consequently, all ongoing work is geared towards the delivery of a system that is of the highest calibre in both service and design quality that will integrate well with Edinburgh’s unique urban streetscape.

The Scottish Executive has already committed £375 million towards the planning and construction of the tram system. The City of Edinburgh Council envisages such investment in high quality public transport will be a successful means of supporting sustainable economic growth in the city, whilst providing realistic travel choices. The aim is to create a fully integrated transport system which supports a growing economy, helps to reduce congestion and improves the environment for all those living in, working in and visiting Edinburgh.

Following an adjustment to include inflation over the lifetime of the project, the cost of the tram scheme stands at £634m. By adding Optimum Bias, as required by the Scottish Executive, the cost of the tram scheme stands at £714m. It is important to note that the basic cost has not changed; the increase is based on the inclusion of inflation from 2003 until delivery of the network. Inflation was not included in the initial cost; this is standard for large projects, however inflation has been included in reports to parliament since that date. We will have a refined estimate of funding required for the project in 2006 once the construction and vehicle delivery costs are known.We remain fully committed to delivering the whole tram network of Lines One and Two, as contained within the Bills currently being considered by Parliament.

Related modes