'Ghost' trams start running daytime tests on Edinburgh city centre to Newhaven extension
The frequency of the tests on the three-mile line east from Picardy Place is due to be stepped up to the full timetable within weeks. A total of 40 drivers are being familiarised with the route after training on a simulator.
City council transport convener Scott Arthur said the project was on time and budget in stark contrast to the massively delayed original line between Edinburgh Airport and York Place on the eastern edge of the city centre, which was completed in 2014 hundreds of millions of pounds over budget.
He said: “Seeing trams running the length of Leith Walk and beyond during the day will give a real taste of the future of the route – this is an exciting moment. Of course, this is the first time that the new trams will be on the line in the daytime, so I would encourage everyone to take extra care when in the area.
“We’re on the cusp of passenger services beginning, with the project delivered on time and in budget, and this is the culmination of a great deal of hard work by all those involved, despite the challenges of the last few years.
“We can now look forward to a green, high-capacity transport link between the centre and north of the city, which will transform travel along the route, help boost the economy and open up development opportunities.”
Mr Arthur told The Scotsman last month there was a “possibility rather than a probability” the line could open ahead of the planned, but unspecified target date in June.
Edinburgh Trams managing director Lea Harrison said: “Our innovative approach to driver training has delivered numerous benefits for our business, but, ultimately, the focus has been on keeping everyone safe.
"This is why we put new recruits and existing tram drivers alike through rigorous training and ongoing professional development programmes to maintain the highest safety standards.
Edinburgh Trams assistant marketing manager and driver Nicola Mearns said: “I am beyond delighted to be one of the first female members of the team to drive a tram to and from Newhaven throughout the day.
"After receiving thorough training on our in-house simulator, testing today has allowed my colleagues and I to put our knowledge into practice whilst familiarising ourselves with the new section of the line.”
The city council said the line “remains on schedule for completion by spring 2023 and within the £207.3m budget, with all major construction now complete”, adding: "A specific date for when the route will be open for passengers will be announced in due course.”
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