For the first time, Edinburgh’s trams will be running later this month as a series of test runs begin, and safety warnings have been passed out to pedestrians. The testing will start after overhead power lines are electrified along the route on 26 November. The line between the Gogar tram depot and Edinburgh Airport will be used to test the trams and the fit of the tracks.
Along the 1.7-mile line between Gogar and Edinburgh Airport, there are four crossings at Castle Gogar Road, Gogar Mains Farm, Gogarburn tram stop, and Eastfield Avenue. There are also several stops on the routes that aren’t finished yet, and each tram is expected to pass each post without stopping. Each crossing will have warnings signs about the testing, and safety guidelines are being issued to the public ahead of time.
Transport chiefs are urging parents to supervise their kids and people walking their dogs to keep their pets on their leads. The warnings say that the trams move quickly and quietly at up to 45mph. They also warn about the overhead power lines being live all the time, so no-one should go near them. Trams will be passing through roads with the rest of traffic, and pedestrians need to be aware of them when crossing – looking both ways for trams and other vehicles at the crossing point. Although they will put warning signs up during the testing, crossings should be treated like any normal road junction.
These system and tram tests are the last part of the development of the route’s Section B. This stretch of the line is due to be handed over to Edinburgh City Council from contractors Siemens and Bilfinger Berger in March after the testing.
Edinburgh City Council transport leader Lesley Hinds says that the testing and electrification of the overhead power lines demonstrates that the project is finally starting to take shape. These tests are a vital part of the tram system’s development to ensure it’s reliable and safe for future services. They have been in contact with businesses and residents along the line to ensure they know the tests will be taking place and know important safety guidelines. The project is progressing well, and it’s nice to see that this stretch of the track is nearly complete so that trams will be able to run on it very soon.
This follows news last month of tram chiefs admitting that the Edinburgh trams project would be delayed further and that costs would rise if Scotland goes through more exceptional weather this winter like last year. Snowfall and freezing temperatures would hamper recent progress and use up the £34 million contingency fund. However, an ongoing row with the contractors, the departure of key personnel and the axing of a council business set up to run the project have all hindered the progress as well.
It’s also been revealed that only about £110 million of the revised project budget (£776 million) remains, while there’s still two years left before the 2014 summer deadline, with the first public services due to run in July. However, Edinburgh City Council insists the project is going according to the new budget.