Trams passengers will travel down Leith Walk for the first time in almost 70 years on Wednesday as Edinburgh’s long-awaited line extension officially opens.
Work to take the tracks from the capital’s city centre to Newhaven started in November 2019, but were impacted by delays due to the Covid pandemic and supply chain issues.
Testing has been under way in recent weeks, with rigorous testing to ensure the newly constructed line, software and signals work effectively and safely.
Testing has included running trams at half and full speed and eventually to timetable, work to integrate signalling and interface with Edinburgh Trams’ control centre and driver familiarisation.
The extended line will welcome its first passengers on June 7, with the first official service running at noon.
The extension spans 2.9 miles and encompasses eight stops.
The controversial £207m project, which was initially set to be operational from “Spring 2023,” attracted the ire of local businesses in Leith after forcing the closure of vast swathes of the street over the last four years.
To mark the opening, the earliest passengers will be able to purchase ‘platinum’ tram tickets from machines at Picardy Place and Newhaven tram stops while Pulse of the Place, a youth samba band based in north Edinburgh, will be performing around the Newhaven tram stop.
The Guard of Honour from the High Constabulary of the Port of Leith will also be standing at Pilrig Street to welcome the tram to Leith wearing full parade dress, including top hats, whistles and ceremonial batons.
Lea Harrison, managing director of Edinburgh Trams said that the opening is a “momentous day for the city”.
He said: “We’re also looking forward to delivering a real boost for local businesses, providing a convenient transport link between the city centre and some of Edinburgh’s most densely populated neighbourhoods, as well as key locations such as Ocean Terminal and Port of Leith.
“With trams from every seven minutes between 6am and midnight, seven days a week, our expanded tram timetable will help firms large and small to attract new business while helping their employees get to and from work.”
Council leader Cammy Day added: “I know many will share in my excitement, and optimism for the benefits this development will provide. We’ve already seen vast improvements to spaces along the route and long-term I’m looking forward to the impact it will have on the local economy, which even now we’re starting to see.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those who live and own businesses along the route. They have shown such patience and resilience shown throughout this major, complex project and now I hope that they will really gain from the new service.
“This is also a chance to reflect on the hard work of those who have delivered this scheme. Thanks to the project team’s dedication, despite the challenges of recent years, I’m proud to say Trams to Newhaven has been delivered on time and within the £207.3m budget.”