Extra pipes 'won't stall trams'
TRAMS chiefs have insisted the £592 million project will not be delayed despite workers digging up Edinburgh's streets stumbling on three times as many utility pipes as expected.
Test holes being dug along Leith Walk have revealed extra pipes and cables which will need to be re-routed in preparation for the tracks being laid.
Fears were raised today that the additional work would hold up the whole project.
But TIE, the council-owned firm behind the trams, today said it had been prepared for the discovery, and insisted the roadworks schedule would not be affected.
The foundations for tram tracks will be buried around 50cm below ground, so water, gas, electricity and communications pipes and cables are having to be moved.
Last year, a specialist firm was paid 220,000 to spend around four months scanning and mapping the city's underground network.
TIE construction director Graeme Barclay said: "Sometimes we find that the utilities are more congested than they appear to be on drawings and sometimes, because Edinburgh has been developed by dozens of utilities providers over hundreds of years, we do come across pipes or cables that are redundant and don't appear on any plans - this is only to be expected."
He said digging trial holes ensured there were no surprises when the actual diversion work takes place.
"This process means we can keep public disruption to an absolute minimum, move all utilities in one go and keep to our scheduled construction programme and budget."
The trams roadworks will take more than three years to complete and involve digging up the roads twice - first to move mains and pipes, then to build the tram lines, stops and overhead wires.
The first major work is taking place on Leith Walk from McDonald Road to Duke Street, with utilities due to be moved this week.
Work on Princes Street will take place in October, with Haymarket junction to follow in November, and Edinburgh Park in December.
A network of tunnels under the city centre - which were built to house cables for the Capital's first tram network more than 100 years ago - are understood to have already taken engineers by surprise.
One industry source said: "There are many locations in Edinburgh, such as Leith Walk, where the services just below are a nest of pipes and cables - many of which have been abandoned.
"[Contractor] Alfred McAlpine was informed there were four lots of services in Elm Row, but so far they've identified 11.
"The problem is that nobody really knows what is what. If you find a pipe that might be carrying gas, you can't just take a saw to it, you have to get it properly investigated and that takes time. Water is worse, leading to spontaneous bursts and medium-voltage electric cables can also go bang, due to deteriorating insulation."
SNP Edinburgh leader Steve Cardownie, a vocal critic of the tram project, said preparation work for the tram project had been "shallow".
"This is only the tip of the iceberg, and is a clear indication that the work is going to take longer and be more expensive," he said.
TIE ADVERTISING BLITZ MISSES TARGET SAY SMALL FIRMS
THE campaign to attract visitors to Edinburgh during the trams project disruption is aimed at the wrong audience, say business leaders.
The "Open For Business" slogan is likely to be seen on Lothian Bus tickets, bus shelters, billboards and leaflets throughout the city, as well as at Edinburgh Airport.
But Tie, the company set up to deliver the trams, is accused of targeting city residents, rather than the out-of-towners traders fear will stay away.
Marketing experts also said the budget of 60,000 a year is not enough for all the advertising work necessary.
Graham Russell, chairman of Edinburgh Federation of Small Businesses, said: "That 60,000 is going to be very thinly spread. Radio, TV, newspapers, trains - they all cost a lot. There's a danger that it won't catch the target audience in places like Fife, Lothians, Borders, across the Central Belt and in England."
A spokeswoman for Tie said: "We are working with the local business community and other affected organisations, such as tourism and freight bodies, to share ideas on how we can make the most of our marketing budget."
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Tuesday 18 June 2013
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