Committee approves £128m contracts for trams to Newhaven

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The trams to Newhaven project set for next week’s crucial vote as contractors appointed (Credit: Graham Millar)

Contracts have now been approved by the Finance and Resources Committee for the two contractors for the potential Trams to Newhaven project totalling £128m, should Councillors vote in favour of the scheme next Thursday.

The Committee endorsed awarding a “Swept Path Contract” to Morrison Utility Services Ltd (MUS Ltd) costing £22m and an “Infrastructure and Systems Contract” to Sacyr, Farrans, Neopul Joint Venture (SFNJV) worth £106m. However, this could soar due to the fact that contractors are currently unsure of the actual workload.

Under the Swept Path Contract, the Council is acquiring the services of MUS Ltd to clear all underground obstructions, expected to be around 1200 obstacles. SFNJV will then commence the next stage, which is to carry out the construction work for the tram line.

There were four bids for the Infrastructure and Systems contract during the tender process, however, two withdrew due to “internal governance approval for the responsibilities and liabilities” of the project.

The contracts are subject to the full Council’s final ruling on the Final Business Case next Thursday.

See our infographic video for the key points of the Final Business Case:

(Credit: Jade du Preez)

Both contractors are delighted with the prospective awards. Peter Carolan, Director at MUS Ltd, said:

“Morrison Utility Services are really excited at being approved as the Swept Path contractor and look forward to the opportunity to work with the City of Edinburgh Council and the Sacyr, Farrans, Neopul JV to deliver the Trams to Newhaven project, if it’s given the green light by the Council.”

SFN Project Director, Alejandro Mendoza Monfort, said:

“SFN JV (Sacyr, Farrans, Neopul JV) are delighted at the news to be recommended for full award of the Infrastructure and Systems Contract for the Edinburgh Tram York Place to Newhaven Extension. 

Our teams have worked meticulously through the tender process set out by the Council and we now look forward to a positive outcome at the business case review by councillors on 14 March.”

Despite the Final Business Case being published, a lot remains in the abstract which has led to uncertainty among those who will be directly affected by the potential construction work.

STEC have also called for the project to be halted until the Lord Hardie Inquiry recommendations have been published, as well as understanding the full impact of the £20m dividend from Lothian Buses which is a crucial part of the financial case for funding for the project.

Edinburgh tram extension budget rises to over £207 million

(Credit: Edinburgh Council)

The cost of an extension to the Edinburgh tram lines has risen by 25% to £207.3 million.

The proposed 2.8 mile extension to Edinburgh’s trams would go from the city centre to Newhaven. The initial estimation was for a total cost of £165 million.

After a “thorough tendering process” the operation has been allocated a budget of £196 million and with a “significant additional risk allocation” of 6%. The total budget eclipses the previous estimation,  a 25% rise.

The council claims that the project will be funded by future tram fare revenues, with the projected number of passengers for the first year being 16 million. However, the original project to reintroduce trams to Edinburgh cost twice the original estimation and is subject to an ongoing inquiry.

The final business case was tested against previously completed tram projects by the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School and they found the project is “more likely than not to be delivered within budget” but also recommend an extra £50 million to cover all eventualities.

The soaring budget estimate has had a mixed reaction from the public on Twitter:

The final business case is to be reviewed by councillors in March following the opening of a special data room in the City Chambers today.

Council Leader Adam McVey said: “All Councillors will be taking the opportunity to examine in detail the FBC and associated documents in detail so that we can collectively make as informed a decision as possible come 14 March. If Council moves ahead with this project, we’ll be working hard to make sure we deliver this project on time, on budget.”

Depute Council Leader Cammy Day said: “A tram to Newhaven would not only provide a direct link for the people of Newhaven and Leith to the city centre and out to the airport, but would connect residents and visitors to major employment and travel hubs along the route.

Construction is planned using a “one-dig” approach closing each site only once and opening only when all works are complete. This approach reflects on lessons learned from the previous tram project.”

 

Edinburgh to introduce £2 a day tourist tax

Edinburgh ‘tourist tax’ has been backed by council and would apply to all accommodation, including Airbnb-style short-term lets. Council Leader, Adam McVey, explains to EN4 News what this will mean.

Bike storage costs rocket in the Capital

Bike storage photo

Bike storage shelters in Edinburgh.

The price for bike storage is now higher than car parking permits in certain areas of Edinburgh.

New bike storage units have been introduced throughout Edinburgh, meaning it now costs more to park a bike than it does a car in some parts of the city.

Edinburgh city council will build a total of 128 units throughout the city over the next two years, costing the average biker £84 a year to lease.

The subject was first brought to attention in November 2016 when the council proceeded with plans to introduce 20 to 30 storage units to the city over the next 3 years.

The pilot schemes proved to be successful over the years with each unit at maximum capacity with waiting lists for future spaces.

However, many have expressed anger towards the situation, claiming that the high prices will only discourage people from riding bikes.

Spokes is one of Edinburgh’s largest cycling groups. Spokesperson Ian Maxwell has highlighted certain problems with this scheme but insists prices should not be compared with car parking permits.

He said, “The price is a bit high. What you can’t do is compare it directly to an on-street parking space because you are actually having a structure built and maintained, so there is an additional cost for that which has to be paid for by somebody”

“That said, there should be a scheme to provide lower rates for people who are unemployed or simply can’t afford it. You shouldn’t be deterred from having a bike and parking it safely just because you can’t afford it”

“What we have been concerned with for a long time is the slow roll-out of this scheme and the continued delays in implementing it.”

New additions come after the council received requests for an increased amount of storage in over 200 different streets across the city.

Despite the price not being Ian’s main concern, Chas Booth, Green councillor for Leith, believes the council are not sending out the right message for sustainable and active travel.

He said, “Green councillors have very real concerns about the proposed costs of the cycle storage. Five pounds a month doesn’t sound like a great deal but when you compare it to an outer zone resident parking permit for a car which comes in at £35.50 a year, I don’t think that the price sends the right message”

“I think the council should be saying loud and clear that we support active travel.”

Travel group, Sustrans Scotland, have agreed to donate half of the project cost in order to support the councils aim for a greater amount of sustainable travel in Edinburgh.

Overall, the project is said to cost around £600,000.

 

Edinburgh Cyclists to get head start at traffic lights

Under new council plans announced today, cyclists will get a head start at traffic light junctions along the tram route.

These new traffic lights that would go green for riders before other traffic would be installed at 14 different sites along the tram route. These same lights are already in use at the Leith Walk/ McDonald Road junction.Plans follow the red cycle lanes for riders to cross tramlines more safely installed last autumn.

The tram route running down Princes Street is one of the busiest with cyclists. Credit: Calum McRobert @ Geograph.org

The work was triggered after the death of Malaysian student Zhi Min Soh, whose bike wheels became caught in tram tracks last May at the junction of Shandwick Place and Queensferry Street. These plans are also part of a public consultation which launched on the council website today and will run unitl the 11th of April.If approved the lights will be expected to be implemented towards the end of the year.

Transport convener Lesley Macinnes stated,

“With the first phase of cycle safety improvements already in place – and, according to our feedback, well-received by cyclists – and the second phase just weeks away from being implemented, we’re now looking to the public for feedback on our proposed designs for phase three, which we aim to put in place later this year.”

“Road safety is absolutely paramount and we’ve been working extremely closely with our partners to refine these designs.”

Early release signals for cyclists have been credited with reducing collisions in cities where they’re already used so these are a particularly desirable option.The council have said a fourth and final phase would involve changes to the road layout at the Princes Street/Lothian Road/Shandwick Place/Queensferry Street/Hope Street junction to improve road safety for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers alike.

 

Budget 2016: Chancellor Signalled his “Commitment to Edinburgh” said City Leader Andrew Burns today

Maria Gran

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Chancellor George Osborne has signalled his “commitment to Edinburgh” in his spring budget, City leader Andrew Burns said today.

Speaking the day after the Chancellor backed proposed funding for the Edinburgh and South-East Scotland City Region Deal, Mr Burns said the extra money would help the Capital grow its economy.

The deal will seal an extra £1bn fund from the UK and Scottish governments, which aims to allow cities and regions to grow their economies.

Councillor Burns said: “Yesterday’s Spring Budget signalled an important commitment to Edinburgh and to our neighbouring local authorities.

“Through more innovation, the development of skills and infrastructure projects and the acquisition of increased powers, we can further enhance the region’s reputation as a great place to live, work, do business and invest in, and help accelerate economic growth not just for the region but for the whole of Scotland and the wider UK.”

Detailed information on what the funds will be spent on is yet to be released, but it is believed that transport, housing and universities are among the frontrunners for funds.

The hope is that securing the £1bn fund will attract £3.2bn from private sector business, that will further boost the economy.

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