Next stop Princes St for trams work (in weeks)

WORK to dig up Princes Street for the Capital's new £498 million tram line is set to get under way within weeks.

It had been thought work to relocate pipes and water mains would not begin until the new year.

But after schedules were revised, the council's arms-length transport firm TIE said workmen would move in for three weeks from November 12.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The project will see one lane in sections of Princes Street closed at all times, though work will be confined to stretches of the road that are no longer than 200 metres long and a metre wide.

Bus journey times are expected to be hit by the works, though construction will be concentrated in the Castle and Frederick Street areas of the road.

The last week of works coincides with the start of the city's winter festivals, including the city centre Christmas Lights switch-on in George Street on November 22.

Council and TIE chiefs today said they were confident the winter programme would not be affected by the roadworks.

Rob Winter, chairman of the Princes Street Association, said: "Any disruption is obviously regrettable, but I would hope the one-lane closures at points along the street will not substantially affect Princes Street. The important thing is that people realise that we are still open for business."

Although work to relocate pipes and water mains has been taking place across the city since April, the Princes Street work is seen as the first high-profile test of the tram project.

It is hoped around half the work on the flagship shopping route will be completed before a ban on tram construction in the Christmas period. Work moving pipes in the rest of Princes Street will resume in January.

Lothian Buses operations manager George McKendrick said: "We anticipate there will be some disruption during the latest works. However, we will do our utmost to ensure delays are kept to a minimum."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The entire programme of tram roadworks will take more than three years to complete and involve digging up the roads twice - first to move water mains and gas pipes from the path of the trams, then to build the tram lines, stops and overhead wires. Utilities works along the airport to Newhaven route will be carried out in stages, with a maximum of seven roadworks at any one time.

Construction work on the actual tram lines will get under way in February next year. Willie Gallagher, chairman of TIE, said: "Keeping Edinburgh open for business during the construction of the tram system is at the core of our planning and programming activity. This is especially important on Princes Street.

"We will ensure that any disruption is kept to a minimum and we will not be working on the street during the busy shopping month of December."

Construction work on Princes Street will take place from 7am to 7pm weekdays and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays. Contractors working for TIE will have to apply to the council to work outwith these hours.

A council spokeswoman said: "Discussions have taken place to ensure there is no adverse impact on festive events in the city. Any work undertaken on Princes Street in November will occur on small sections of lane at the west end of the street. All activities taking place as part of Edinburgh's Winter Festivals are at the east end of the street. All events will go ahead as planned and Edinburgh will once again sparkle during the festive period."