OVERHEAD power lines on a key stretch of Edinburgh’s tram track were due to go live today as the controversial project reached another milestone.
Passengers will still have to wait until summer 2014 before they can use the trams, but preparations for testing of the service along the full 1.7-mile length of track from the Gogar depot to the airport was getting under way today.
The council insists the project is still on schedule and within the revised £776 million budget.
A safety warning was issued to residents today, reminding them that the overhead power lines would be live and trams could soon be hurtling past without much noise to signal their approach.
There are four crossings along the stretch – at Castle Gogar Road, Gogarburn tram stop, Gogar Mains Farm, private road, and Eastfield Avenue at the airport – where there will be signs warning of the testing.
Officials said it was expected the first tram would be allowed on to the test track within two to three weeks of the power lines going live.
The testing and commissioning of the trams will continue through to March 2013.
Transport convener Lesley Hinds said: “These tests are a vital part of the development of Edinburgh’s tram system and it’s a clear indication that the project is progressing well. Trams are a safe method of transport but we realise that people will not be used to seeing them running. That’s why we’re taking this opportunity to remind residents to be aware and to read the important safety advice.
“The tram route is really starting to take shape and it’s good to see this long stretch of track almost complete. I’m looking forward to working with the contractors over a busy, productive 2013 and I’m confident that we’ll see good progress as we drive the project further towards completion.”
The tram runs and system tests are the final part the development of “Section B” of the route. The stretch from the depot to the airport is due to be handed from contractors to the council in March.
Testing of the full tram route from Edinburgh Airport to York Place is expected to take place in late spring 2014, with passenger services due to run by summer 2014.
Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “It is greatly encouraging to see sections nearing fruition, which is a clear indication of the benefits of partnership working. Following a turbulent spell, the people of Edinburgh are absolutely entitled to expect a more positive period of visible progress. Everyone involved is committed to delivering this project that will increase public transport options for the public and visitors alike.”
Mind how you go
Residents are being reminded to take note of the following safety precautions:
• Trams move quietly and quickly, with a top speed of 45mph, so be aware.
• Look both ways at tram crossing locations for passing trams and other vehicles.
• Tram crossings should be treated like any other railway level crossing and road signs and any traffic signals should be obeyed.
• Overhead power lines are live at all times at 750V so do not go near them
• Children should be supervised and dogs should be kept on leads around tram crossing locations
• Don’t enter any restricted areas.