An early morning test run of the Princes Street tram

Tram project on track at last

A tram has run along Edinburgh’s famous Princes Street for the first time in 57 years.

The initial city-centre test run took place in the early hours of 5 December, to minimise disruption to traffic. The tram travelled at walking pace, accompanied along the route by engineers who carried out a series of checks as it passed.

Overhead power lines have been live along the entire route since 19 November. Earlier vehicle tests have been on fully off-road sections, though there has been a public awareness campaign warning people to take care at crossings. More frequent test runs will begin in the New Year.

The 8.7-mile line runs between Edinburgh Airport and York Place in the city centre, with 16 stops. It serves a park-and-ride site, three railway stations and the Murrayfield Stadium, home of Scottish Rugby Union and also a concert venue. The end-to-end journey time will be 30 minutes.

The current tram project is a scaled-down version of earlier and more ambitious proposals. It has been dogged by political, financial and contractual difficulties as well as technical challenges, notably with the diversion of underground utilities.

Widespread traffic disruption during construction works has been criticised by businesses in the city. However, the programme is now making good progress.

City Council Transport Convener Lesley Hinds said: “We have really taken this project by the scruff of the neck over the last year and a half. We have all worked together, whether it be councillors, Transport Scotland, council officials or contractors, to make sure this project gets delivered on its revised timetable and its revised budget.”

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