City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Tram Depot Handed Over to Edinburgh City Council

By edg - Posted on 15 December 2011

George Brodie Shows Jenny Dawe the Controls

The trams depot at Gogar has officially been handed over to Edinburgh City Council. The depot will be the control centre for the curtailed Edinburgh tramline between the airport and York Place, which is scheduled to open in the Summer 2014. The depot will also be where the fleet of 27 trams are serviced and parked overnight.

For council leader Jenny Dawe it was "a day of celebration" and "an absolute milestone" for the trams project, although the Lib Dem leader admitted that it was "a day that sometimes I feared would never come." She added: "It was a real boost to see the trams in motion along the test track today - a very visible indication of the momentum we have built up over the past few months."

Trial runs of the first five Edinburgh trams started on Monday on the test track at the depot. The 500m track, which will ultimately form part of the route, is being used to test the trams at speeds of up to 50km/h before they are brought into service when the network opens.

Four tram drivers are currently working on site and will be continuing to test the existing fleet in the months ahead.

Edinburgh tram on testing track

Graeme Healy (37) from Edinburgh is the fleet’s first driver.

He said: “I am proud to be able to say that I am the first of the city’s next generation of tram drivers. I did my initial training in Nottingham and will be training the other drivers that come on board throughout 2012, which is something I’m really looking forward to,” said Healy.

The Edinburgh trams project was due to be up-and-running by now. However, a dispute with contractors has delayed the project by years and the curtailed tramline has gone massively over-budget.

Part of the reason that the trams project has begun to move forward again after the drawn-out and acrimonious contractual dispute is that the Scottish Government, through Transport Scotland, has taken a more proactive role in the final stages of the project. The SNP opposed the project from the outset, but Minister for Housing and Transport, Keith Brown, said he wants to see it completed on time and without going over the revised budget.

Brown was at the depot for the official handover media event.

Said Brown: "It is encouraging to see the focus now firmly back on delivery with the first trams moving on the test track. This is an important milestone for the project and demonstrates what has been achieved through the City Council working alongside Transport Scotland and the contractor in the last few months."

The project has helped secure around 600 jobs – 500 working on construction and a further 100 posts involved in operating and maintaining the network once in operation.