Tram adds York Place stop to lure extra passengers

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TRAM chiefs have added an extra stop after projections showed they could boost passenger numbers by extending the end of the line closer to the top of Leith Walk.

Councillors voted in September for the tram route to run from the airport to St Andrew Square rather than the original plan to go to the Waterfront.

But trams were always going to have to go into York Place to allow them to switch tracks for the return journey.

Passenger projections showed more people would use the trams if the route was extended by about 400 metres with a stop in York Place towards Picardy Place.

City development director Dave Anderson said the decision had been made during the mediation talks between the council and the contractors.

He said: “We took the view it was sensible to do that.

“Even if St Andrew Square was the final stop, you would have to take the track into York Place for a turnback.”

He said there was potential demand from around Broughton Street and forecasts showed going close to Picardy Place would attract more passengers.

He insisted the change would not affect the £776 million price tag for the project. Unveiling details of the next phase of the tram works due to get under way in the new year, Mr Anderson said the relaying of the track in Princes Street was ahead of schedule.

He was also upbeat about getting the first passenger- carrying trams running by summer 2014.

He said: “We’ve got fresh momentum into the project. We’re confident we’re able to hit the deadline set out in the programme.”

Princes Street has been re-opened as a pedestrianised area for the Christmas period, but will close again from January until next summer.

Mr Anderson said: “We are making good progress and we’re slightly ahead of where we thought we would be – but we still have a winter to come. We’re confident the Princes Street works will be completed well ahead of next summer’s festivals.”

He also signalled preparations were on course for having the first tram running on the test track within the next three weeks.

He said: “We have trams running already inside the depot, but the plan is to have the first tram up and running on the test track. That was one of the prizes we sought when we went into mediation – to have trams running on the test track by December 15.”