BUNGLING tram workers brought yet more chaos to Edinburgh yesterday – after they sliced through a major power line during the rush hour.
The resulting power blackout hit a major Scottish government building, the five star Balmoral Hotel, stopping its famous clock, shops, and closed the public records office.
Scottish Power confirmed the power cut at the east end of Princes Street had been caused by the city’s notorious tram works, which have already caused years of disruption and are massively over budget.
The famous Balmoral clock read five past nine for more than an hour © Deadline News
Guests staying at the £500 a night Balmoral were plunged into darkness.
Breakfast service, guest check in and check outs were all interrupted.
The famous Balmoral clock, which always runs five minutes fast to stop travellers at next door’s Waverley Station missing their train, stopped at 9.05am, the time when tram workers damaged the power cable.
One disgruntled Balmoral worker, who asked not to be named, said: “We’ll probably have people stuck in the lifts.”
The Scottish Government building, St. Andrew’s House, where First Minister Alex Salmond held talks with David Cameron last month, was also affected.
A spokesman confirmed: “Like the rest of central Edinburgh, St Andrew’s House experienced a power failure for a short period this morning.”
A worker at Register House, which keeps the nation’s records of births, marriages and deaths, confirmed they had been closed down for two hours.
The member of staff said: “The power cut caused major disruptions and all members of public had to leave the building because of fire safety. All the power went down and we had to get electricians in.”
Scottish Power confirmed tram workers had damaged the power cable © Deadline News
The nearby Disney store was one of several shops plunged briefly into darkness.
Scottish Power confirmed the power cut was due to tram workers damaging a vital power cable.
The spokeswoman added: “The cut was due to a cable fault due to another party who damaged the cable. It affected approximately 100 customers and we had a unit on site. Power is now back on and we apologise to customers for the delay.”
A spokesman for Edinburgh City Council confirmed the tram works had caused the power cut. A spokesperson said: “We can confirm that a power outage took place on Princes Street at around 9 o’clock this morning.
“Power was restored at 10:15am. We would like to apologise to all those businesses and residents affected.”
The original budget for the trams stood at £375m but has since ballooned to an estimated £1bn.
The trams will now run from Edinburgh Airport to St Andrew Square in the city centre. A plan to cut the route even further, stopping it at Haymarket, was scrapped after the Scottish Government threatened to pull its contribution.
Work on the trams was halted two years ago after a dispute with building firm Bilfinger Berger. A new deal has since been signed with the German firm.
The remaining works will take place between now and the expected completion date of summer 2014.