COMMUTERS will have to watch empty trams trundle along Princes Street for six months as exhaustive safety checks are carried out.
The “ghost trams” are scheduled to start in January 2014 but the first paying customers will not get on board until the summer.
Critics branded the checks as “excessive” as more complicated tram networks south of the border were up and running after just two months of tests.
The testing is deemed necessary in order to ensure thorough driver training, working out kinks on the line and ensure the trams run on time in line with the timetables.
Small tests have already been carried out on sections of track such as the Gogar depot to Edinburgh Airport.
Around £500,000 was spent bringing in drivers to drive the trams around a small track to make sure the wheels don’t seize while in storage.
But a further 800 individual tests are thought to be needed before the network can be officially opened.
Professor Lewis Lesley, technical director of light rail company Trampower, said: “It does seem an excessive amount of time given that it’s a simple end-to-end route.
“Nottingham is a more complex system and I think the final testing period for them was two months.”
Simon Johnstone, editor of Tramways and Urban Transit magazine, suggested the length of the testing was a way of avoiding further “bad publicity”.
He said: “The last thing you want to do – especially in Edinburgh – would be to rush in and then have it close for extended period.
“That puts even more bad publicity on a scheme which is not particularly well-viewed.”
Edinburgh City Council transport convenor Lesley Hinds said: “As was the case with successful testing between Gogar and the airport we’ll make sure that residents and key stakeholders are aware of what’s involved to limit disruption.
“Appropriate signage will be in place and w