Page last updated at 15:55 GMT, Monday, 9 July 2007 16:55 UK

Work begins on city tram project

Artist impression of an Edinburgh tram
The 600m project is expected to take three years to complete

Preparatory work has begun on a new 600m tram system for Edinburgh.

Contractors are moving gas and water pipes, as well as phone and electricity cables in Leith, so they will not be damaged when the trams are operational.

Only one firm, Alfred McAlpine, will carry out the work at the city's Ocean Terminal, to minimise disruption to the public.

The project, which will include a link to the city's airport, is expected to be completed in three and a half years.

The SNP government agreed to move forward with a tram network for Edinburgh in June, despite originally saying it was not cost-effective.

The preparatory work, announced in February by former transport minister Tavish Scott and costing 60m, marks the first phase of construction for the project.

Letters have been sent to residents living near to where the work is being carried out, and "tram helpers" will be on-site to keep members of the public informed about noise and traffic disruption.

Michael Connelly of Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (Tie) said the Ocean Terminal work would last for nine weeks.

He said: "This is quite a unique contract that Tie has let to Alfred McAlpine Infrastructure Services.

"It is the first time in any project of this nature where all utilities will be moved in one fell swoop.

"So you won't have that common experience where one utility is moved, the road covered up, then being dug up again for another utility move."

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