Trams to run to airport this month (but you still can’t get on one)

The tram project is well behind schedule but tangible progress is now being made
The tram project is well behind schedule but tangible progress is now being made
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TRAMS will run on the streets of Edinburgh for the first time later this month – with safety warnings handed out to pedestrians in advance.

A series of test runs will get under way after overhead power lines along the route are electrified on November 26. Transport chiefs will use the completed line between Edinburgh Airport and the Gogar tram depot to test the £2 million vehicles and the fit of the tracks.

However, the carriages will be empty – except from a single newly-trained tram driver from Lothian Buses.

Ahead of the test roll-out, officials working on the project will issue safety guidelines to the public urging parents to supervise their children and dog-walkers to keep their pooches on their leads.

They warned: “Trams move quietly and quickly, with a top speed of 45mph – so be aware.”

There are four crossings along the 1.7 mile 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.

Several of the tram stops along the route are not yet completed – 
including Edinburgh Airport, Ingliston Park and Ride, Gogarburn at RBS and Gyle Centre. The service is likely to pass past each one without stopping on its airport run.

A series of posters will be erected and leaflets distributed to local residents. They read: “Please be aware that the overhead power lines are live at all times at 750V dc. DO NOT GO NEAR THEM. Trams move quietly and quickly, with a top speed of 70kmh (45mph).”

It goes on to advise that trams will be passing through the roads, along with conventional traffic, and to beware when crossing.

It adds: “When travelling on the approach to a tram crossing point, take care to look both ways for passing trams and other vehicles at the crossing point.

“Although we will provide warning signs when tram testing is taking place and supervise crossings to begin with, treat them as you would any normal road junction and obey the road signs. Supervise your children and keep your dog on a lead.”

Lesley Hinds, the city’s transport leader, said the test runs and the electrification of the overhead power lines showed that the project is finally beginning to take shape. She said: “Testing is a vital part of the development of Edinburgh’s tram system to make sure it’s safe and reliable for future service.

“We have been in touch with residents and businesses along the route to make sure they know the tests are taking place and so they have important safety advice. The tram project is progressing well and it’s good to see that a long stretch of track is almost complete and that we’ll see trams running on it very soon.”

The tram runs and system tests are the final part the development of 
“Section B” of the route.

This stretch is set to be handed over from contractors Bilfinger Berger and Siemens to Edinburgh City Council in March following testing and commissioning.

The Evening News revealed last month how tram chiefs have admitted the project would be hit by further delays and rising costs if Scotland experiences another severe winter this year.

Freezing temperatures and snowfall would reverse recent progress and eat into the £34 million contingency fund set up to soak up delays and faults.

New figures also revealed just over £100m of the £776m revised budget remains, with nearly two years to go before the summer 2014 deadline.