Tram fiasco forces second Princes Street closure



Fiasco: the tram lines were damaged long before a single tram used them

PRINCES Street is to be shut to buses for months so that tram lines can be dug up and relaid, it emerged today (Wed).

Businesses and residents, who have already suffered massive disruption, are likely to react furiously to the news.

The street will be closed from July to November – the busiest time of the year – so that the remedial work can be carried out.

Buses will be completely banned from the street and one carriageway left open at a time with only service and emergency vehicles allowed access.

The council plans to begin work on the south side of the road on July 2, a meeting of the city council heard.

It was revealed last year that the original tramlines had been damaged.

Experts speculated that weather, traffic and incorrect installation could have contributed to the problem.

Workers will target the north carriageway between January and May next year.

Goods vehicles will only be allowed access to shops at night and bus services will be rerouted.

Leader of the council Jenny Dawe said: “Without question there is a difficult time ahead, however I am still of the belief that a tram network which expands over time will be of enormous benefit to people living and working in this city or generations to come.

“We had hoped to avoid the scenario of further traffic diversion from Princes Street but having listened to the advice from council officers and the infrastructure contractor I understand why this is necessary.”

Contractors will use four ‘planer’ machines to remove the road surface to a depth of 25cm. Two machines will work from each end than meet in the middle.

Martin Foerder, project director for Bilfinger Berger, said: “There are a number of outstanding elements still to be undertaken on Princes Street and by doing these now we are also able to repair the road surface.”

The council said a mediation process involving the main contractors, Bilfinger Berger and Siemens (BBS), had allowed them to set aside their differences on Princes Street.

They added that the contractors had agreed to carry out a programme of remedial works to fully repair the road surface with no new public funds involved.

Graham Birse, deputy chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: “You can only look at this as an unwelcome development.

“It was thought that the work was complete but it has transpired that the work was substandard.

“The initial reaction from retailers is that they are not looking forward to another prolonged closure of Princes Street.

“There is a lot of frustration and quite frankly, some anger that this has happened.”