Testing on capital's troubled tram network set to begin next year

FULL testing of Edinburgh's trams will get under way by the end of next year, officials behind the troubled project have said.

The capital's 27 tram vehicles are due to arrive in the city in April and test runs will be carried out near Edinburgh airport.

The announcement yesterday came as it emerged building work had finally got under way at the main "hub" for the tram network, at Gogarburn, almost two-and-a-half years after preparatory work began.

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Officials at TIE, the city council's tram company, declared the bulk of the main depot would be all but completed by the spring, dismissing claims that it was unlikely to be finished until 2012.

However, members of the public will have to wait until at least 2012 to board a tram.

The late-running of the depot building work is said to be unconnected to the long-running dispute between TIE and a major contractor, Bilfinger Berger.

Progress on the Gogar depot is crucial because all of the city's trams will be stored and maintained there overnight, the main control room for the network will be based there and it will be home to more than 100 staff.

Andrew Scott, project manager at TIE, said delays had been caused by the need to relocate one of the city's main gas and water mains, as well as a major sewerage system.