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.

Leith businesses fear lack of support over tram extension

 

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Leith Walk  businesses preparing for the worst. (Credit: Graham Millar) 

 

Traders on Leith Walk voiced their concerns today about proposals to extend the tram-line, which they fear will ‘lead to years of fresh disruption’ to the daily running of their businesses.

Should Councillors vote in favour of the project estimated to cost £207m – equating to £69m per mile, businesses are already foreseeing financial problems as well as the potential infrastructure layout.

A manager of a charity organisation, who asked not to be named, spoke to EN4 News regarding the the loading bays that are directly in front of their shop, which they worry will be removed. Unlike businesses on Princes Street who have entry points on Rose Street for deliveries, etc, those on Leith Walk do not have a second entry point. The manager said:

“They’re going to put a few parking spaces around the corner (on Manderston Street) so that it will mitigate the affect on us to an extent but anybody with any donations will have to park round the corner and bring their donations to us, whereas at the moment, we’re able to have loading and unloading right outside the shop.

“With the road being narrowed to two lanes, the roadworks themselves and putting in the structure, it’s going to affect everybody. I do appreciate the authorities trying to put in measures to lessen the affect on businesses but it will have a massive impact to businesses on Leith Walk. 

“When the information about the trams first came out, we did get the impression there was going to be cash compensation for companies and businesses but I don’t believe that’s going to be the case, therefore, if what the council do offer doesn’t help at all then we’ll just have to live with what’s happening.”

However, the parking situation on Manderston Street is already tight, with motoring businesses that have been based there for over 40 years battling the logistics throughout time and the tram route is expected to bring further difficulties. A worker at Dunwell Coachworks said:

“We’ve always got cars (parked), cars that are either waiting be picked up or get done. You got to park them somewhere but there’s yellow lines all over the place – where do you put them? I believe there’s gonna be traffic lights at the end of the street. I think they should make this a one way street and if they’re gonna put traffic lights there they may put double yellow lines here. We’ll have less parking, I know that…”

 

Mark Gibson of Folly Antiques wrote a letter to the council listing the reasons for the Council not to approve the tram line, one section of it reads:

‘”At a time when many high streets are dying and many more consist of little more than chain stores, charity shops and vacant lots, Leith Walk is bucking the trend. Why?”

Speaking to EN4News, he said:

The final decision by councillors will be made on March 14th.

 

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.”

 

200 Cyclists killed or injured by Edinburgh trams from 2009-2016

Over 200 cyclists have been injured by city trams in Edinburgh since May 2009, with at least one incident resulting in death.

EN4 News spoke to the author of the report, Edinburgh University’s Professor Chris Oliver. He said:

“The Tram System was poorly designed. No consideration of the needs of cyclists. The infrastructure should segregate cyclists away from trams.”

As a former surgeon, Professor Oliver has seen first-hand what the damage these trams can do. The study highlights that ‘the risks [of cyclists] are further increased by other factors such as on-street parked cars, the absence of dedicated cycling infrastructure and heavy traffic’.

Edinburgh Trams | Image Credit: STV

It also found that ‘almost two-thirds of respondents in this study reported that the incident occurred while commuting.’ This primarily occurs when cyclists feel pressured by motorists to go onto the tramlines.

So what can be done to ensure their safety?

Oliver believes segregated infrastructure is key in bringing about change and security to cyclists. He also told EN4 News that he agrees with Spokes’ tramline safety measures, which is a four phase plan to make tramlines safer for cyclists.

The study of ‘Tram System Related Cycling Injuries’ was conducted in light of the death of 23 years old Malaysian medical student, Zhi Min Soh.

Vote to be held on Tram extension

Edinburgh councillors will vote tomorrow (Thursday) on whether to extend Edinburgh’s current tram network to Leith and Newhaven.

Despite  work on the original tramlines concluding only two years ago, Labour are believed to be strongly in favour of the controversial plans which would cost a further £162 million and have an estimated completion date in 2021.

The plans also have the backing of Scottish business and transport leaders with the Scottish Council for Development and Industry and Transform Scotland both releasing statements in favour of the work.

A spokesman for Transform Scotland said:

“Now is the time to take the next step towards a comprehensive network by extending the line to Newhaven and so joining up development in Leith and Newhaven with the developments at the St James Quarter, Edinburgh Park and Edinburgh Airport. This will send positive signals that Edinburgh is following the worldwide trend of developing sustainable transport infrastructure and intends to keep pace with its competitor cities across the Continent.”

The SNP are believed to be strongly against the extension plans which would cause further disruption to local businesses in the capital.

The difference in stance between the two parties is threatening to jeopardise the current coalition with 18 months still left before the next council elections.

The trams have come under extreme scrutiny following failures of the initial project which lasted for six years and came in well over budget, leading to an inquiry being launched.trams

Photo courtesy of Craig Murphy /Flickr

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