article

Creating a lasting legacy for Edinburgh

Posted: 25 April 2012 | Dave Anderson, Director of City Development, City of Edinburgh Council | No comments yet

The project to deliver a modern tram network for Edinburgh has now gained fresh momentum with visible developments and major infrastructure work ongoing along the length of the nine mile route. In the last 12 months, the project has had to overcome major challenges but with a new working relationship between the Council and contractor consortium bringing a renewed sense of determination, the tram project is now firmly on course to be delivered in 2014.

It’s December 2011 and the Edinburgh Tram project has just passed its first major milestone as moving trams are tested at the Edinburgh network at the newly completed Gogar depot on the western fringe of the capital. The facility will form the focal point for the 150 people who will eventually be tasked with running the system and will also be home to the city’s fleet of 27 trams by the end of 2012. It is already a hive of activity with tram testing underway. A short 500m stretch of track allows the existing eight trams to be put through their paces. By the end of 2012 there will be a much longer stretch of track with test drivers able to travel from the depot down the mile of track down to Edinburgh International Airport marking a significant step forward in terms of delivery.

The depot handover and track testing are among the many signs the project is now heading in the right direction. Major infra – structure work is underway along the length of the track from the airport through to St Andrew Square in the city centre as the jigsaw of different sites start to fit together and the final shape of the network emerges.

The project to deliver a modern tram network for Edinburgh has now gained fresh momentum with visible developments and major infrastructure work ongoing along the length of the nine mile route. In the last 12 months, the project has had to overcome major challenges but with a new working relationship between the Council and contractor consortium bringing a renewed sense of determination, the tram project is now firmly on course to be delivered in 2014.It’s December 2011 and the Edinburgh Tram project has just passed its first major milestone as moving trams are tested at the Edinburgh network at the newly completed Gogar depot on the western fringe of the capital. The facility will form the focal point for the 150 people who will eventually be tasked with running the system and will also be home to the city’s fleet of 27 trams by the end of 2012. It is already a hive of activity with tram testing underway. A short 500m stretch of track allows the existing eight trams to be put through their paces. By the end of 2012 there will be a much longer stretch of track with test drivers able to travel from the depot down the mile of track down to Edinburgh International Airport marking a significant step forward in terms of delivery.The depot handover and track testing are among the many signs the project is now heading in the right direction. Major infra - structure work is underway along the length of the track from the airport through to St Andrew Square in the city centre as the jigsaw of different sites start to fit together and the final shape of the network emerges.

The project to deliver a modern tram network for Edinburgh has now gained fresh momentum with visible developments and major infrastructure work ongoing along the length of the nine mile route. In the last 12 months, the project has had to overcome major challenges but with a new working relationship between the Council and contractor consortium bringing a renewed sense of determination, the tram project is now firmly on course to be delivered in 2014.

It’s December 2011 and the Edinburgh Tram project has just passed its first major milestone as moving trams are tested at the Edinburgh network at the newly completed Gogar depot on the western fringe of the capital. The facility will form the focal point for the 150 people who will eventually be tasked with running the system and will also be home to the city’s fleet of 27 trams by the end of 2012. It is already a hive of activity with tram testing underway. A short 500m stretch of track allows the existing eight trams to be put through their paces. By the end of 2012 there will be a much longer stretch of track with test drivers able to travel from the depot down the mile of track down to Edinburgh International Airport marking a significant step forward in terms of delivery.

The depot handover and track testing are among the many signs the project is now heading in the right direction. Major infra – structure work is underway along the length of the track from the airport through to St Andrew Square in the city centre as the jigsaw of different sites start to fit together and the final shape of the network emerges.

Work is continuing at the tram stop at Edinburgh Airport, which international and domestic travellers will use to access the city centre – construction here is due to be completed by spring 2013. At the Ingliston Park and Ride, work is being carried out to finish an electricity substation and lay track. Construction is also progressing well at the busy A8 underpass at the Gogar roundabout. The basic structure is now in place and in time this will act as the gateway from the city centre through to the airport with the trams travelling under the A8, which is one of the city’s major approach roads. Meanwhile, work on the business district at Gyle Broadway is also well underway – it’s at this point the tram will cross the Broadway before heading for the underpass, with the area likely to be busy with the thousands of people that already travel to this part of the capital as part of their daily commute.

Further east, tracks are being laid down and work to install tram stops is continuing between Edinburgh Park and Russell Road including the largest and most dramatic stop on the route at Murrayfield Stadium, which is expected to be completed by summer 2013. Because this stretch mainly follows the railway line into the city, work is being carried out in close partnership with Network Rail to ensure rail services remain unaffected. This section is expected to be completed by the end of 2013. Elsewhere and the first major section of track at Haymarket yards was completed in February 2012. This is significant as it marks the point in which trams will leave the off road section from the airport and enter the city centre.

In central Edinburgh, infrastructure work is well underway between Lothian Road and Haymarket, which marks a major period of activity. A series of traffic diversions have been put in place, with road works due to end midway through 2013. The length of Princes Street is currently closed to all traffic but major works here are now nearing an end. The street has been opened up to the contractors, which will allow all the tracks to be laid by June, with the remaining work east of Waverley Bridge scheduled to end in autumn 2012.

Towards the eastern end of the route, work began in January 2012 on the east side of St Andrew Square with all traffic switched to the west side. The site extends down onto Princes Street where the two sections of track will be joined up with work due to be completed by Christmas 2012. The final tram stop will be built at York Place, which will also act as a switching point for the return journey to the airport, although construction here has not yet begun.

One of the major issues facing the project in the last six to 12 months has been the diversion of utilities – an issue which many major transport or infrastructure projects face. These issues came to light after the design of the project was finalised and have required extra work on some sections of the route. Haymarket is a relatively small but important work area and, with traffic still using the site, there were considerable pressures in this area. Two contractors worked side-by-side: the first to resolve utility issues while the main contractor could only work once the utility issues were resolved. The experience of Haymarket has helped shape the working patterns across the rest of the project. By expanding the size of sites, work has been able to continue across two contractors simultaneously, reducing the risk of delays in future.

While the project’s previous problems have been well documented, current working relationships are a world away from the stalemate that dogged proceedings for almost two years. Since March 2011, we have steered our way through mediation talks and reached a settlement agreement with the contractor, building a new and more positive working relationship. With the involvement of the Scottish Government agency, Transport Scotland, we now have a new governance structure and management team in place and we are starting to see a real difference on the ground with works across the city.

The Council, Bilfinger Berger, Siemens, CAF and Transport Scotland now work together closely on every aspect of the project. There is regular communication between the main stakeholders and all major decisions are taken after the detailed review of all available information, with a mind to delivering the project as efficiently as possible. The way the project is handled is constantly under review and when a better way of doing something is identified, the flexibility exists for working practices to be modified.

One of our main areas of focus has concerned the impact of tram works on local communities and businesses. In recognition of this, the Council continues to work closely with city centre traders and has introduced an ‘Open for Business’ initiative, committing more than £1 million over the course of two years to support businesses and sustain footfall in the city centre. Logistically it has been a challenge to maintain access for deliveries but we have made strenuous efforts to promote the message that the city is ‘open for business’ as usual. One of our latest initiatives has been to set up the West End Action Group, which invited local business owners and residents to join a committee made up of key council staff to steer investment and generate ideas. In the coming financial year, we have a £600,000 budget to invest in local initiatives and events, including themed markets, classic car fairs, fashion shows and complementary marketing promotions. One recent event brought Scotland rugby stars, Mike Blair and David Denton, to host a comeand- try family fun day in the West End, boosted by a day’s free parking. We value the views of local traders and will continue to work closely with them in the months and years ahead to attract as many people as possible to the area and, in-so-doing, ensure their livelihoods are protected.

While it is natural for the project to look to the future direction of the city’s public transport network we have, on more than one occasion, been faced with the city’s past. In January 2012, our team of archaeologists mapped out a previously-discovered 80m complex of underground chambers outside Haymarket station. Although labelled in the media as a World War II air raid shelter, the tunnels actually formed part of the original tram works and date back to the late 19th century. The chambers were built as pulley shafts for the cables used to drag tram cars for around 20 years before the system fell into disuse following the advent of electricity. Rather than simply filling the space in we have, as is normal practice in these cases, protected the area with geothermal layering which will allow future generations to see the space as it was used.

One of the main benefits of re-introducing trams is reduced carbon emissions and the opportunity for environmental improvements. Improving quality of life and the long-term attractiveness of our city are high on our agenda. A major tree planting project will be undertaken, which will see more than 54,000 trees planted along the route, ensuring that the city will enjoy a lasting environmental legacy. Recent work at Shandwick Place in the city centre required the removal of 28 trees to make way for road widening works. In order to maintain the natural feel of the area, we are working closely with the local community to develop a landscape framework for the area, which includes the planting of 37 young and semi-mature replacement trees once the construction work is complete.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2012, the Edinburgh Tram project is entering its most constructive and important period to date. Major milestones include the completion of works on Princes Street, the first continuous piece of track going live for testing between the Gogar depot and Edinburgh Airport, as well as significant progress at worksites along the entire length of the route.

Once the construction process has been completed we will have a lasting legacy for the city – a modern tram line which will open up access to public transport and help achieve modal shift away from private car use. The tram will be part of an integrated public transport system that will cater for Edinburgh’s increasing population while shaping business growth in upcoming areas across the city.

The deadline for revenue services is now fast approaching and we are confident the project will be completed within our current timescale of summer 2014 when the service will go live to its first paying passengers.

 

About the author

Dave Anderson took up his current post in March 2008 and, until January, was responsible for the council’s Planning, Transport, Economic Development and Corporate Property functions before focusing on economic development, investment promotion, physical regeneration and managing key relationships with the business community. Prior to 2008, Dave held a range of senior positions in the Scottish Enterprise Network, working as Director of Skills Development in Ayrshire (1991-1998), Chief Executive in Dunbartonshire (1998-2006) and then leading operations in Edinburgh and the Lothians (2006-2008). He is a graduate of the University of Stirling and has a Master’s Degree in Education (Training and Development) from the University of Sheffield. He is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and a member of the Urban Land Institute.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend