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Edinburgh News 2010

3 November 2010: David Mackay, Chairman of Transport Edinburgh Ltd Resigns
14 October 2010: Progress on the Gogar Depot and Business Case Review
24 August 2010: Depot Area Taking Shape
11 July 2010: New publicity issued by TIE.
28 June 2010: View of the A8, Gogar Depot and roundabout.
29 May 2010: New livery confirmed.
6 May 2010: First Tram on display at Princes Street stop.
23 April 2010: TIE Announce Arrival of First Tram.
15 April 2010: Publications issued by TIE.
26 March 2010: Planning Application Drawing.
18 March 2010: TIE statement following "rough" media debate.
15 March 2010: Further Construction Work.
8 February 2010: More Details on the Trams.


3 November 2010: David Mackay, Chairman of Transport Edinburgh Ltd Resigns

Although CEC, (City of Edinburgh Council) are said to have known of his intention to step down, a press release by TIE appeared in The Scotsman newspaper and on the TIE website announcing David Mackay's resignation with immediate effect. It can be speculated that stress of the project, as well as internal rumblings at Lothian Buses will have contributed to his decision to leave the organisation. There are strong feelings among Lothian Buses staff, and indeed many bus users, against the merger of Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams. The charge being that the buses will be used to subsidise the trams, and investment in buses will be sacrificed to pay for the tram project. This ignores the subsidy of several bus routes by either CEC or other organisations.

The Forth Ports development firm has claimed that the trams are vital for the viability of the waterfront regeneration and wants the line completed from the airport all the way to Newhaven. Perhaps Forth Ports should have been more forthcoming with the funding it originally promised to the project.

Meanwhile, at the SNP Annual Conference in Perth, John Swinney, the Scottish Government's Finance Secretary, originally a strong critic of the tram project, is reported to have "ordered" Edinburgh's SNP councillors not to oppose the trams. He wants the project to be completed as effectively and quickly as possible, and is seeking ways to secure funding for the complete line.

Following on from the council meeting on 14th October rumours are strengthening that there will be a "divorce" between TIE and the consortium, as both sides are maintaining entrenched positions.


14 October 2010: Progress on the Gogar Depot and Business Case Review

With what appears to be a worsening of relations between TIE and Bilfinger-Berger, the main civil engineering contractor, who were reported to have laid off 36 workers and stopped work on parts of the line, including the quite disruptive Gogar Roundabout underpass on the A8, the only work which appears to be ongoing is on the Depot. Thanks to Douglas Scoular for providing the accompanying photgraphs, showing clear progress since the last update. Meanwhile the business case review, which was to have been prepared for the September meeting of City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) has been released for debate on 14th October. Much criticism and myth generation has already taken place of and around the paper. However, one of the proposals is that an integrated transport system is created for Edinburgh by merging TIE with Lothian Buses under Transport Edinburgh Ltd, TEL. This is of course not a new idea, and was first proposed many years ago, at the start of the present tram project. However, the CEC is now being accused of "Plundering Lothian Buses to pay for the trams" by some contributors to Speakers' Corner on Newsnet Scotland. It is also proposed, as expected, that phase 1a is constructed incrementally, as funding becomes available.


24 August 2010: Depot Area Taking Shape

While progress on the Gogar Depot is clearly visible, evidence of it elsewhere remains less obvious. The track in Princes Street is about a half mile, and the only other section of track laid is about a mile over the former guided busway between South Gyle Access and the bridge being built over the railway at Carrick Knowe. Rumour generation remains, with some suggesting that the line will only ever be built between the airport and York Place (strongly denied by TIE and the council's transport convenor), but with the roads between Haymarket and Princes Street, and Leith Walk being returned to a more "normal" state, and a senior Lothian Buses official having been heard to say that this seems to point to a staged implementation, it appears as though TIE is preparing for a staggered introduction of the tram service in anticipation of the report and revised business case due out in mid-September. This might be beneficial as the increasingly sceptical public will hopefully have the chance to experience the benefits of a modern tram system, and begin to demand investment in more lines such as line 3 to the RIE!

While there appears to be occassional work being done at the Newhaven end, most construction work is definitely on the west line, as shown on TIE's July publication, and the recently taken accompanying photographs.


11 July 2010: New publicity issued by TIE.

Following the usual ill-informed online Twitter and Facebook postings after the Council meeting to debate the Tram Project update on 24th June, TIE issued this statement, which unfortunately did not appear online until Monday 28th June. A more upbeat publication is the July Photo Booklet, available in PDF format from the TIE website.


28 June 2010: View of the A8, Gogar Depot and roundabout.


Photo by Ross Scoular.

Project Update Report debated by City of Edinburgh Council.

The update report published on 18th June for City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) (available in PDF format from the TIE website, but shown here online) was debated on 24th June. This report was the most comprehensive and open that has so far been available to the public, and outlined clearly the areas of widespread concern. Satisfaction is expressed about the performance of Siemens and CAF, but while the contractual dispute between TIE and Bilfinger-Berger (BB) was well known, its details were not, especially as the issues were effectively "sub judici". There were 85% more utility pipe and cable moves than originally scheduled for; there have been design related amendments; project-planning delays due to the extra utility moves required, the archeological finds, etc.. Some of the disputes have been settled financially, resulting in a settlement cost of £7·586 million instead of the £18·211 million claimed by BB, which has consistently refused to continue with any work while disputes were under discussion, a stance believed to be contrary to the terms of their contract and causing big infrastructure construction delays.

A new business case is to be presented in September, and options being discussed are

"A revised programme to achieve a best value outcome"

or

"Potential termination of the Consortium Agreement as a result of their failure to meet contractual obligations"

The second choice is complicated by the fact that Siemens and CAF, with whom satisfaction has been expressed, are also part of the consortium along with BB.

At the moment, CEC is looking into contingency funding options, but are not formally requesting additional funding, in spite of earlier reports indicating that the budget would be exceeded. They have stated that of the £545 million budget about £348 million has been used, but this is mainly for heavily up-front loaded expenditure. Ill-informed critics are misinterpreting these figures as indicating that the total cost of this project will exceed £1000 million in view of how little track is currently evident. However, the disputed infrastructure costs are claimed to make up less than half the total projected costs.

Unfortunately, developers such as Forth Ports have defaulted on part of their promised contribution, and it seemed ill-advised of CEC to allow a new hotel development in Leith Walk, being built to take commercial advantage of the tram line, to be let off any contribution to the project cost when other new developments will be compelled to do so, as in Dublin.

Despite false reports by the Evening News paper, strenuously denied by the CEC Transport Convener, and CEO of Edinburgh Trams, the commitment remains to build the whole of line 1 from the Airport to Newhaven. However, there could be a project revision to complete this route in stages according to funding availability.

The motion on the report was debated by CEC and passed with an addendum. (It is also available in PDF format from the TIE website). Suggestions by Cllr Cardownie and MSP Somerville, that a referendum on cancellation of the project should be called, were rejected, as CEC would need to repay all the government funding already received.


29 May 2010: New livery confirmed.

As speculated, the new Lothian Buses livery is to be echoed by Edinburgh Trams, and the first vehicle was recently given the new livery, although it is much more subdued in typical Edinburgh understatement. Compare the photograph below with that of the mock-up shown in the 10th November 2009 update.

There is a strong perception that visitors are beginning to turn in favour of the prospect of modern transport for the City, particularly the older and younger generations. Those who remain opposed are probably not public transport users in any case. Experience of light rail abroad, and down south has also given people a taste for the mode of transport. There have now been over 31,000 visitors since the tram went on display on the 27th April.

The 30,000th visitor was a primary school teacher who brought her P2 class.

TIE has released another set of project photographs showing progress over the entire route.


6 May 2010: First Tram on display at Princes Street stop.

Late in the evening of Sunday 25th April the first tram arrived in three components on low-loaders. They were unloaded and connected during the night. Commissioning continued for the official key handover ceremony on Tuesday, 27th and subsequent opening of the tram for public viewing. TIE published most of the photographs below on their Facebook site. The tram will probably remain in the centre of town until August, depending on visitor demand.


Each of the three sections being run
off the low-loaders.
The three sections and their roof-mounted electrical installations are connected.
Internal commissioning and checking continues during the morning.
George Murray (LRTA Area Officer) in discussion with Kevin Keating (Operations Mobilisation Co-ordinator, Edinburgh Trams) and Inkarigan (Chief Project Engineer, CAF).Showing the motor per wheel, with no cross-vehicle axle, to cut cornering "squeal".
Jesus Esnaola from CAF presents Cllr Jenny Dawe with a symbolic key to the first tram to arrive in Scotland from the Basque country, having been used at Wildenrath for system testing.Leader of City of Edinburgh City Council, Jenny Dawe by the controls. Visible are the two double screens acting as wing and rear-view mirrors.

After a week of being open to the public, in excess of 10,000 people have visited the tram. Most appear to have been impressed - memories of only shoogly four-wheeled tram vehicles having been dispelled. Hopefully the hostility and effects of the Princes Street disruption will dissipate.

Meanwhile, there has been a welcome return by Lothian Buses to the traditional livery of madder and white in place of the "meningitis" livery introduced a few years ago. Hopefully the trams will also sport a version of the more dignified traditional Edinburgh colour scheme.


23 April 2010: TIE Announce Arrival of First Tram.

The long awaited arrival of the first CAF vehicle was announced today by TIE in the attached press release.


15 April 2010: Publications issued by TIE.

Even members of the local LRTA feel that as the western part of the line is mainly on green field sites, progress should be more evident. In the city progress of construction is suffering from the ongoing dispute. However, two more optimistic publications have been issued by TIE, one in the form of a small booklet, and the other is a briefing document from the leader of City of Edinburgh Council, Jenny Dawe.


26 March 2010: Planning Application Drawing.

Planning application 09/02589/FUL dated Nov. 2009 obtained through Currie Community Council shows an extract from a drawing by Mott MacDonald of the layout of the area surrounding the Gogar Roundabout where the City Bypass meets the A8. Pedestrian access is shown in blue, and vehicular access in red, with the railway line to Fife accross the upper right. New roundabout turnoff is through a current police observation layby. Work is proceeding on the tunnel under the A8 to join the line towards the Gyle Tram Stop.

There is some concern about number of facilities to be crammed into the relatively small area surrounding the Gogar roundabout. Network Rail will be building the Fife line "Edinburgh International Gateway" train station/tram stop in a corner of the site. The A8 road underpass is having a tram and a pedestrian underpass built under it, and the low-loader access road as well as bus and car access to the train station is to have access via the roundabout.
Three weeks progress on the depot building at Gogar. The road in the background shows the gentle incline to cope with low-loaders transporting tram vehicles to the depot.

18 March 2010: TIE statement following "rough" media debate.

Following a Board meeting on the 10th March, there was much press discussion about the contract dispute between TIE and Bilfinger-Berger of the construction consortium. Many rumours about dates, costs and line extent were published. Most of the public blog contributions to "The Scotsman" newspaper were seriously uninformed. Although unfortunately in terms of fair play, the consortium is not permitted to issue public statements according to the terms of their contract, TIE has released a statement on their website which it is hoped will calm the debate and dispel the rumours.

Below is also a more comprehensive map of the track relative to features of the city's roads, etc.


15 March 2010: Further Construction Work.

TIE/Edinburgh Trams has released a technical drawing of the CAF vehicle. The provision of luggage space seems quite generous in comparison with that available on Trans Pennine Express trains from Edinburgh to Manchester Airport. Is this a reflection on some remaining loyalty to Mr Jeffrey's former post? The seating arrangement shows passengers' ability to maintain a watch on their luggage, giving them a sense of security about their possessions.



Meanwhile construction continues at the Haymarket Station site on the foundations for the tramstop between the train station and Haymarket Terrace. The track will turn left at the facing building (housing TIE's offices) to run off-road parallel close to the railway line.

More utility moves have been started at both the West End, between Haymarket and the Lothian Road/Princes Street junction, and at the Leith end of the line. Unfortunately this kind of essential work makes the tram project unpopular, as people do not seem able to see the long-term benefits beyond the relatively short-term disruption.

TIE has released a short video on their website of some of the test runs being performed at the Siemens Wildenrath test-track. Your client computer will need to have active javascript, and a movie flash player to see this.


8 February 2010: More Details on the Trams.

In early December 2009 TIE/Edinburgh Trams published a factsheet on their website in PDF format. This is reproduced here in JPEG format.

Feedback from special interest groups has been incorporated into the refinement of the design, such as the special cantilever seat provided for the visually handicapped, so that a dog lead will not tangle with a seat support, when going between the door and the seat, and a dog can lie down without getting in the way of passengers' feet. For low-demand night running, part of the vehicle can be shut off, so that passengers feel safer. Smoked glass doors, with white bars will be used for this purpose.

Photographs below reproduced with permission of Edinburgh Trams

The "Lothian Bus Tartan" seat material used on the mock-up has been discarded in favour of "leather" upholstery as used on the premium service Route 100 Airlink buses. This is to give visitors to Edinburgh the same impression on the tram as they presently receive on the Airlink buses.

To date four trams have been completed, two remain at Irun (1 and 4), while the second and third are being used for technical service evaluation at the Siemens Wildenrath test track. This will enable the signalling and control equipment (Siemens equipment will be used in Edinburgh) to be tested in conjunction with the trams. Some of the vehicles will be equipped to lubricate the vertical sides of the track to cut down on cornering squal. This will also be helped by the use of stub axles rather than full bogie width axles, to give a slipping differential effect as used on 4 by 4 vehicles, to further cut down on stress and noise from cornering.

Advance signalling control will give the trams majority priority at light controlled junctions. Clearly with the service frequency total priority would deny other traffic crossing opportunities, particularly in the city centre. As the plans are to run a service from Newhaven to Haymarket at 10 minute intervals, and a service from Newhaven to the Airport at ten minute intervals, the city centre will have a five minute interval service in each direction.

Meanwhile two problems have been highlighted with the tracks having been laid in Princes Street. Edinburgh Trams has issued a leaflet, and warning signs have been put up, to advise cyclists how to ride in the vicinity of tram tracks to avoid being caught by them. The bad weather towards the end of November has had an adverse effect on the road surface quality beside the rails, and gaps have appeared, particularly where the buses cause heavy cornering pressure as they turn into Princes Street. However, this is no different from the damage done to the road surface at most bus stops. But it has given more cause for complaint from the anti-tram lobby.

Serious disruption will be expected soon at the West End, when the stretch between Lothian Road and Haymarket will be constructed. Meanwhile, off-road track laying is continuing over the former 22 guided bus route. There are still contractual discussions taking place over the railway bridges along this stretch.

As can be seen from the map at the end of the recently published factsheet the planned Fife-line interchange stop beside the depot has been given the name of Edinburgh International Gateway to reflect its intended use as an interchange for railway passengers coming across the Forth


Edinburgh News 2010: top