Human remains to be exhumed as works start on tram extension


Work on the Edinburgh tram extension will begin next month, while the findings of an inquiry into the existing scheme remain unpublished.

The City of Edinburgh Council said work to take trams to Newhaven is scheduled to begin on Constitution Street in Leith in mid November and that the project budget of £207.3m, as reported in the Final Business Case, ‘remains achievable'.

However this represents an increase on the £162m in an Outline Business Case in September 2017.

A computer generated image of the planned tram extension

The council's announcement follows six months of joint work with the Infrastructure and Systems Contractor (Sacyr, Farrans, Neopul JV) and the Swept Path Contractor (Morrison Utility Services) to finalise the plans.

Doubts also remain over funding for the project after the boss of Lothian buses, which is part owned by the council, warned that there is no guarantee that the company will provide a £20m contribution.

The findings of an inquiry into why the original Edinburgh Trams project went so badly wrong - incurring delays, extra costs and delivering significantly less than projected - remain unpublished.

A spokesperson for the inquiry told Transport Network: 'We continue to make good progress towards producing the final report and recommendations which will be published as soon as practicable.'

Edinburgh council transport convener Cllr Lesley Macinnes said: ‘The past six months have been invaluable in allowing the project team to work hand in hand with our contractors to put the designs and construction programme through their paces so that we're in the best possible position to get started next month.

‘Throughout this whole process, we've taken a robust, prudent, open and transparent approach, keeping residents and businesses fully informed at every stage and incorporating their feedback directly into the plans so that they are truly community-based.'

She added: ‘The project's independent adviser praised our plans as the most closely scrutinised he had ever come across in decades of work in the light rail industry.’

The council has said the works will result in around 200 bodies, dating from the 14th to the mid-17th century, being exhumed from under Constitution Street area.

Ms Macinnes said: ‘Given Leith is one of Scotland’s richest sites for urban archaeology, particularly Constitution Street, it’s key that we allow ample time for this aspect of work to get under way.’

Passenger services on the extended route are timetabled to begin in Spring 2023. The council had previously given 'early 2023' as an opening date.


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