Community Councils Together on Trams/Trams Team meeting, 30 September 2021

Minutes of the Community Councils Together on Trams/Trams Team meeting (Construction Phase) via Google Meet on Thursday 30 September 2021 at 5:30pm

Actions and decisions are red italic. ‘TT’ means ‘Trams Team’. Names are sometimes abbreviated to initials.

1 Attendance

Robert Armstrong TT Steve Jackson TT Carol Nimmo CCTT/NTBCC
Charlotte Encombe CCTT/LCCC Rob Leech TT Bruce Ryan CCTT minutes secretary
Don Giles CCTT/LHNCC Andrew Mackenzie CCTT /LLCC Harald Tobermann CCTT/LCCC
Angus Hardie CCTT/LLCC Jennifer Marlborough CCTT/LHNCC Chris Wilson TT

2 Apologies

Carol Nimmo CCTT/NTBCC Mike Birch CCTT/NTBCC        

3 Final design/landscape Issues

3.a Leith Walk pavement width and interpretation of ESDG

3.a.i Design, approval and build history from FBC to today’s drawings along the whole route (incl any pre-TRO approval construction): what evidence is there that pedestrian priority has been a key criterion at every stage of each design iteration?

  • H Tobermann: it appears that ESDG isn’t entirely unambiguous, i.e. open to interpretation. How does TT interpret it?
  • R Leech: there was consultation in 2018 with essentially the design inherited from the original tram project, which had been through much development and design. The predominant reaction was that this design did not have enough space for active travel, i.e. too much space was given to traffic. There was also a strong desire for segregated cycling on both sides of Leith Walk. (Several options were considered.) This led to a revised design which was subject to further consultation. Since then, detailed design work has been undertaken, leading to the TRO.
  • R Armstrong: Leith Walk is an existing street, i.e. its full width can’t be increased. The track slab has a fixed width. The planned carriageway width has been reduced as much as possible (3·25m), as has the cycle-way (1·2m). This leaves the pedestrian space (permitted minimum width 1·5m, but we have achieved at least 1·8m). TT accepts this isn’t desirable but TT has been able to keep pedestrians at the top of the hierarchy by reducing everything else to the bare minimum.
  • H Tobermann: You state that pedestrians got ‘everything that was left’ [after including minimum widths for track-slab, carriageway, cycle-paths]. In the space between Pilrig St and Dalmeny St (the longest section with 1·8m-wide pavement), should bus-stops and loading bays have been shifted. Should the central reservation have been changed? CCTT realises that much has already been built so it may be too late to change it. My major concern is that CCTT was not told about [the narrow stretches of pavement] in the consultation, full business case and TRO stages. This information was not available on the plans available to CCTT.
  • C Encombe: it was not apparent that dimensions were fixed at previous stages, nor were specific measurements publicised. I understand it’s too late to change them now, but being referred to a 3-year-old consultation feels disingenuous. We should look at what else lies ahead in detail to avoid similar issues.
  • R Leech: I agree that at no point of the consultations did TT state ‘here are the exact dimensions’. This was not possible because the detailed design had not been created at those stages. TT should have spoken with CCTT as soon as these ‘pinch points’ became apparent. However, TT did undertake much consultation. There is a wider lesson for any future project: not all detail is available at [early] consultation stages, and there is no time available for further consultation when the detailed design has been made – by then the onus is to get on with construction. I don’t know the answer to this but I take on board these comments.
  • D Giles: potentially there is another such problem, in that the final design for landscaping is not yet available, yet it’s being built just now.
  • S Jackson: the landscaping designs have been through a number of iterations. Once the final design is signed off, TT can publish them. TT’s contract with the contractor (responsible for both design and build) strictly constrained the contractor to design and built what had already been agreed. However, I concur that the final design is not yet public.
  • A Mackenzie: during the 2½ years of these meetings, CCTT has constantly asked to be involved with [designs for] the public realm. TT states that there was consultation leading to agreement on what would be built, followed by final designs, leaving no time for further consultation. However, I cannot believe that it was not possible to show CCTT and its communities 3-D models etc of how the entire route would work, enabling design changes.
  • R Leech: design is a process, moving from indicative layouts, to fitting in required components (footways etc). parking and loading remain massive issues on Leith Walk – TT has had to reduce these to facilitate matters. However, TT should have notified others about the narrow stretches of pavement as soon as it knew about these. NB the narrow stretches are quite short. Concerning cycle-paths, there are strong constraints on how these can be fitted in.
  • J Marlborough: if the final designs are not yet ready, what are the contractors working to?
  • S Jackson: the contractors are working in areas where the design has been accepted. In other areas, TT has told the contractor to amend the design.
  • A Hardie: should CCTT not see the designs as they are being created. We will be left with whatever is built.
  • S Jackson: TT is not opening the designs for consultation. It will publish them once they are finished, so there are no [further] changes for the contractor. The contract was strict so the landscaping and public realm would not deviate from what was agreed. (In other areas, the contractor can change things.)
  • C Nimmo: What imposed the speed [i.e. lack of time for consultation on final designs]?
  • R Leech: TT has consistently said that it’s job is to construct the design agreed at full business case. We have been very strict with the contractor to ensure that this design will be delivered. The alternative would have been lack of control and inability to make decisions. This has caused some problems for TT, e.g. people only reviewing designs and hence wanting changes later – such problems were inevitable. However, the upside from the process that has been used is that the work is on schedule and under budget.
  • H Tobermann: TT gets this upside but CCTT residents end up needing to live with some areas of poor design which will be the subject of complaints for years to come. Examples include the floating bus-stop at Shrub Place – this is worse than before. I do not understand how complex cycle-crossing arrangements at Pilrig St were approved as ‘good design’. CCTT could have provided quality feedback on potential designs, respecting confidentiality if requested by TT.
  • D Giles: if these meetings are only so TT can say it has consulted, without enabling CCTT to influence matters, then what is the point of them.
  • R Leech: I reiterate that TT has always said it would build what was agreed at full business case. I do not mean that this will avoid all potential legacy issues. However, these meetings cover many other issues and concerns, to which TT has responded. I – and the whole TT – get much from these meetings
  • H Tobermann: I concur that these meetings have value, but this does not take away the concern now being discussed.
  • C Encombe: the landscape design is a potential area where CCTT could help to reach an outcome that suits everyone, or at least reach a suitable compromise. I recall many conversations about the type of bus-stop to be built, yet do not know what types will be delivered. In general, please consult CCTT about potentially contentious issues, or at least warn CCTT that things it may not like are due to happen.
  • R Leech: we are talking about soft landscaping, and can share such information
  • H Tobermann: (screensharing plans for junction of Leith Walk and Pilrig St): it is not possible to tell from this drawing that the pavement width is 1·8m (R Leech concurred). Please confirm that from now on pedestrians really will come first. For example, TT should not plant trees that will effectively make pavements very narrow.
  • (There was discussion whether the drawing being discussed was indicative or final design.)
  • R Leech: TT will distribute final designs
  • B Ryan: to get robust, accurate results from consultations, questions, need to be highly specific.
  • H Tobermann: CCTT represents 80,000 people, and so urges TT to speak with CCTT and put pedestrians first.
  • R Leech: this hierarchy does mean a lot to us.
  • D Giles: please occasionally look at the project as if you were a user.

3.b TRO at Melrose Drive/Ocean Drive junction, confusion with regard to mini roundabout and pedestrian crossing to hotel side of street

  • J Marlborough: this junction has been changed recently to include two mini-roundabouts, which people are using weirdly. Some buses and big lorries need to do 3-point turns at this busy road.
  • S Jackson/R Leech: TT will look into this. We agree it’s a traffic management issue.
  • Action: R Armstrong to take this to traffic management review panel

3.c Traffic modelling showing impact along the whole route and hinterland post-construction: overdue presentation

  • H Tobermann: this modelling was promised some time ago but has not yet materialised.
  • R Armstrong: I have offered a meeting/demonstration next week – date to be confirmed.
  • H Tobermann: what format will the demonstration be? Will it be interactive?
  • R Armstrong: it will be a video to show results of VISSIM modelling or morning peak traffic, to be provided by Jacobs.
  • H Tobermann: I have been frustrated by previous demonstrations by Jacobs – just seeing an animation without background detail is not productive.
  • R Leech: TT needs to be clear what it will present. Action: R Armstrong to consider this, perhaps delivering an initial taster session. Perhaps it’s best to wait until all designs have been VISSIM-modelled. (HT concurred.)

4 Construction/disruption Issues

4.a Outline of London Road to York Place impacts on pedestrians and other active travel modes, bus diversions/travel times, general motor traffic diversions

  • R Armstrong: I’ve presented on this to NTBCC, and am waiting on further communication from M Birch. The plans for the top of Leith walk were presented to CCTT some weeks ago. During phase 1 (11 October to mid-January 2022), turning right from London Rd to Leith Walk, with installation of a roundabout there. During phase 2 (mid-January to October 2022), this turn will be re-permitted, with traffic-lights being installed. At this time, traffic will not be able to go from Picardy Place to Broughton St. There will be no changes to pedestrian routes. I’m working closely with CEC active travel and CCWEL colleagues to maintain active travel.
  • H Tobermann: will traffic coming up Broughton St be able to go onto Picardy Place?
  • R Armstrong: it will, by turning left [onto Leith Walk], travelling to London Rd, then using the roundabout.
  • H Tobermann: won’t this impede traffic coming from further down Leith Walk?
  • R Armstrong: there will be a roundabout (in phase 1) and traffic-lights (in phase 2) to enable traffic flow. There is a bus-gate outside the Balmoral, and North Bridge is one-way.
  • H Tobermann: I strongly suggest traffic-lights are installed earlier than currently planned.
  • C Nimmo: we fear that traffic will not follow this plan, but will go along East London St and Annandale St.

4.b Plans and timing for completing all pavement/cyclepath works on west side of Leith Walk

  • S Jackson: the contractor is working from the top to the bottom of the west of Leith Walk. This should be mostly finished by Christmas 2021. (In a couple of short lengths, underground work has only just been finished, so these will be finished next year.) The contractor is due to start on the east side on 23 October. Road surfaces and pavements will be finished before west to east ‘flipping’ occurs. As pavements are finished, heras fencing will be moved to maximise pedestrian space.
  • H Tobermann: what is holding up this work?
  • S Jackson: we are waiting until an appropriate time: working in larger sections is more efficient and gives better results.
  • S Jackson: there will be 25mm [vertical] height difference between cycle-paths and footpaths. This is less than the difference at the Playhouse due to the underground conditions (existing utilities) along Leith Walk.

4.c Need for highly visible signage (flags were discussed) at temporary Leith Walk crossings, especially where these are away from desire lines

  • H Tobermann: there are now signs saying ‘110m to the next crossing-point’ but these are not very noticeable.
  • R Leech: The reason given in the past for not using flags was because the crossings moved, but there may be a better way. There is also the challenge of there being too much signage.
  • C Wilson: I am happy to discuss with colleagues how to make crossings more visible.
  • H Tobermann: some time ago, CCTT was shown visualisations of good-looking crossings. We now have crossings that are not near desire lines. TT should make it easy for people to see where crossings are. (C Encombe and C Nimmo concurred, citing personal experience.)
  • R Leech to TT colleagues: is there any reason why this can’t be done? Suitable light-weight materials may be available.
  • S Jackson: we’ll need to consider a temporary works design – winter may bring windy weather. TT will look into this.

4.d Oversized and redundant signage in Pilrig area blocking pedestrian movement; tatty/torn banners on heras fencing

  • C Encombe: to the west of Leith Walk, there is a multitude of shoddy signs held in place by sand-bags that are now bursting and becoming litter-traps and taking up parking-spaces. Can this signage not be attached to lamp-posts, as done by Spaces for People? (C Nimmo concurred, suggesting that good-looking signs would boost the project’s image.)
  • R Armstrong: I will speak with Class One about this. However, signage on lamp-posts can be problematic – you can’t just install a large sign and hope for the best.
  • H Tobermann: can temporary poles be used?
  • R Leech: TT will look into what can be done.

4.e Debris and litter on works site which adds to ‘unkempt’ appearance

  • H Tobermann: if TT wants to create a good impression, it should keep its sites tidy. While CCTT knows that TT doesn’t drop litter, it should tidy regularly – including dealing with tatty signage on the heras fencing.

4.f Plans and timing (winter approaching) for sequencing the decommissioning of existing (pavement) lights and installation of new central lights

  • H Tobermann: what is the plan for dismantling lamp-posts on Leith Walk?
  • S Jackson: these will stay in place until the lighting poles have been installed and are working on the central reservation.
  • H Tobermann: then please make sure the existing lighting continues to work until the central lighting is ready. Currently several lights are not working.
  • R Armstong: this is on my list of actions

4.f.i No street lighting from Melrose Drive to entrance for Ocean Terminal

  • J Marlborough: no lights are working here except at the main concourse. This area is dark and very unpleasant.
  • R Leech: TT will look into this

4.g Plans and timing for patching potholes and drainage issues (spray) on diversion routes (north) and Leith Walk running lane (south)

  • H Tobermann: when will this work be done – it is long overdue.
  • R Leech: does TT have a list of such defects?
  • R Armstrong: I’m working on this. We have go-ahead to work on Leopold Place. I’m not aware of all of the issues.
  • H Tobermann: the whole site needs to be examined for such issues.
  • R leech: this is the first I’ve heard of this. TT does not have budget to relay the whole running lane.
  • R Armstrong: I’m referring to the work carried out by S Blacklaw on the diversion routes.
  • R Armstrong: workers are booked in for October.
  • R Leech: we can’t close the whole running lane
  • S Jackson: we start the running lane work on 23 October. The south running lane will be closed in parts from then.
  • H Tobermann: I see your point, but please note there are currently places where water does not run off as it should.

4.h Plans for removing temporary traffic lights at junction Dryden/Pilrig during Pilrig Street closure; reported issues: poor visibility (evening sun), unreliable operation has led to people ignoring it; serious bike accident

  • R Armstrong: the lights were put in as part of the cycle-route diversion that was agreed with Living Streets, Spokes and the TMRP. Who is asking for removal?
  • H Tobermann: Pilrig St residents. There has been one serious accident here already.
  • C Encombe: there is almost no traffic here now, so these lights do not add to safety, but do add to clutter, as do some bollards.
  • R Armstrong: I will raise this with TMRP, Living Streets and Spokes.

4.i Pro-active use of Pilrig Street (Leith Walk end) as logistics/loading area and not just uncontrolled parking area for sub-contractors’ vehicles (PPE) hiding communal bins

  • S Jackson: this is not designated as a parking area, but some contractors’ vans have been here for a while. It was a main entrance/exit for the site. TT can look into this now this work has finished.

4.j Plans for managing construction traffic to/from new Halmyre site through residential areas

  • S Jackson: there have been no changes since last month – the change has already happened.
  • C Wilson: no issues have been raised – see the geographical breakdown (item 5b)

4.k Resident’s query: ‘There should be absolutely no sounding of horns for any reason other than official use on a roadway. This has been a big problem down here, but not since I got the police to attend and state that to them very clearly. No horns for opening gates, indicating trucks are full, when to stop backing up etc. They need to find other more effective and silent methods of communicating. There should not be smoking anywhere on site except in designated areas. They sent me some guff about if there isn’t a designated area SFN employees can essentially smoke where they like, but they are breaking their own rules. There should not be smoking, full stop. Engines MUST be turned off when not in use for prolonged periods. I got some other guff about that from Morrisons but the Chief Engineer agrees with me that their excuse about hydraulics keeping warm etc is utter nonsense… Trucks, diggers, rollers etc., anything except generators that need to be left on must be turned off unless it can be specifically justified. This makes a huge difference to residents. It’s better in this area for now, but we’ll see as it kickstarts again with the next phase soon.’

  • A Mackenzie: a resident in the LLCC area has reported these issues.
  • C Wilson: I believe TT is in meeting with this resident fortnightly. At the most recent meeting, the resident reported an improvement, so the above comments may be historical.

4.l Other congestion issues

  • J Marlborough: congestion in Gt Junction St and Commercial St is ‘horrendous’ all day. Buses are being held up. When the works get to the foot of the work, how will roads be managed?
  • R Armstrong: TT is currently working at the foot of the walk, so this is likely to be the cause of this congestion. TT is looking into traffic management for future phases. Lothian Buses tells us that bus times have been improved thanks to the current temporary traffic management. TT can bring phase plans to CCTT. Commercial St congestion might come from avoidance of Gt Junction St. TT can look into relevant traffic signals.

5 Review of latest metrics

5.a Dashboard

  • CCTT members did not comment on the ‘health and safety’ and ‘progress’ dashboards.

5.a.i Key metrics

  • H Tobermann: track-slab progress is 5% behind plan. Is this due to the concrete issue?
  • S Jackson: yes, in part. Power-duct installation is 6% behind plan due to work being rephased but this will not affect the overall project.

5.a.ii Stakeholder communications

  • C Wilson: query numbers have reduced. There are more enquiries via email and fewer by phone. Phone enquiries ten to take longer to resolve because they go through a contact centre rather than directly to the project. The large number of queries about Lothian Buses is a historical artefact – currently there are very few such queries.

5.b Geographical breakdown of public queries (‘tickets’)

  • C Wilson: there have been many queries about archaeology and some about support for business.
  • C Wilson: I meet business representatives regularly, so TT tries to be proactive and reactive. TT has a business development manager, and I am a point of escalation
  • C Wilson: I will complete commentary and recirculate these figures
Area Sep-21 Area Sep-21
North Section 67 McDonald Road 5
South Section 74 Mitchell Street 0
LW Cycle Lane 2 Lorne Street 0
Bernard/Baltic Junction, Timber Bush 7 Pilrig Closure 1
Stevedore Place 3 Cambridge Avenue 1
Constitution Street 28 Foot of the Walk 1
Leith Walk 39 Rennie’s Isle 1
Newhaven Public Art 0 Queen Charlotte Street 1
Windsor St/ London Rd/ Montgomery St 1 Tower Place 1
Ocean Drive 4 Haddington Place 1
Lindsay Road 2 Spey Street 1
Jane Street 0 Tram stops 1
Haddington Place 1 East Claremont Street 1
Iona Street 1 London Road 1
Elm Row 5 Balfour Street 1
Lorne Street 1 Shrubhill 1
Tower Street 2 Dalmeny Street 2
Ocean Terminal 3 Steads Place / Springfield Street 2
Antigua Street 4 Dickson Street 2
Victoria Quay 0 North Leith Sands 2
Gayfield Square 0 Victoria Bridge 3
Laurie Street 0 Picardy Place 4
Maritime Lane 0    

6 Looking ahead

6.a Upcoming TT plans through to end October

6.a.i Works planned: locations and nature (and impact) of work; consequent changes to current pedestrian routes; consequent changes to bus routes and bus stops; consequent changes to motor traffic and predicted impact from displaced traffic on other area

  • S Jackson: TT has been engaging with Lothian Buses. Traffic management plans will be published in the next fortnight. The street will change at different locations at different times
  • R Armstrong: bus stops will mostly just be moved to the other side of the road, with crossings put in place as needed. There will be suitable gaps in the central reservation. The east side will look much as the west side does now.
  • H Tobermann: TT has put in more work for parking than for pedestrians, who should come first.

6.b Upcoming design challenges and options being considered/upcoming construction challenges

  • S Jackson: the next big item will be the York Place and Leith Walk flips but these have been covered already. The Leith Walk flip will not necessarily be sequential

7 Changes to project phasing and completion (if any)

7.a Changes to major milestones

  • H Tobermann: is the phasing map on the website 100% accurate?
  • R Leech: this is currently under review due to recent difficulties with concrete and labour supply. TT will explain any changes.
  • C Wilson: the last revision was in May. TT will want to communicate any changes appropriately. However, TT is still working towards spring 2023 completion.
  • H Tobermann: please always advertise in the project newsletter when sections are due to complete
  • R Leech: TT will do this

7.b Update on the projected completion dates of sections from Manderston/Gordon streets north to the junction of Bernard and Baltic streets.

  • A Mackenzie: it appears this will be covered when TT updates phasing.

7.b.i Resident’s query: ‘Regarding the section from Queen Charlotte St to Bernard/Baltic streets, I’d like to know if TTN’s interpretation of ‘finished in October’ is the same as mine. ‘Finished’ for me means not just the tram tracks, pavements and road surfaces all laid, but the area clear of all fencing, road not to be used as a TTN works storage area etc. So basically no longer a building site, and the road area will be clear for cyclists and traffic. I fear the actual case will be the TTN team will be assigned to another stretch, but we will be left with unusable roads, Heras fencing still up etc for another year, or even two. We are also concerned that they’ll use the ‘finished’ areas for storing supplies and undertaking off-site work like cement mixing, stone cutting etc. If so, this means continued noise from construction and construction workers in areas which are classified as “finished”.’

  • A Mackenzie: this resident is just asking for clarity.
  • S Jackson: when the section is finished, all public realm work will be finished and fencing will be removed. The contractor then visits to install street-lighting, traffic signals, overhead signals and tram-stop equipment

7.c Detail of the traffic management measures that will be in place at each of the above locations over the works’ duration, and how these will change over that time period, Impact of supply chain issues

  • A Mackenzie: does the section between Coatfield Lane and foot of the walk need to be open to enable work elsewhere?
  • S Jackson: the design here is slightly complex due to underground sewers. Contractors are now working on reinforced duct bank, then will move on to the east slide track slab. This will be covered in the phasing review.
  • R Leech: rephasing is complex due to the many interdependencies. However, it should be ready before the next meeting. TT will communicate with CCTT to avoid problems similar to those around pavement-widths.

7.d Any other supply-chain issues

  • R Leech: the concrete shortage is beginning to reduce. Skilled labour is in short supply.


8.a ‘Pilrig Muddle’ wheels – LCCC’s suggestion to place one locally

  • S Jackson: the wheels and associated mechanism are being restored by a specialist contractor.
  • R Leech: there needs to be consultation on their eventual fate. The clock and pigeons will go to Elm Row. TT is happy to work on such matters with community councils.

8.b Who will be responsible for post completion vibrations in Leith Walk and Constitution Street?

  • C Wilson: Edinburgh Trams undertakes annual vibration and noise monitoring. The last one was done in 2019. (2020 was omitted due to COVID.) ET will liaise with TT on appropriate monitoring points. Monitoring is done for a week or so.
  • C Nimmo: can CCTT meet with ET about this?
  • R Leech: yes, this is a good idea. It will be arranged when operations are being considered.

8.c Concrete issues

  • D Giles: concrete and slabs in the original tram-route are now breaking up. Will this recur on this tram-route?
  • R Leech: TT is installing a very different track-slab and rail system. We lived through such issues with phase 1, so have learnt much from this.

9 Next meeting: THU 28 October 2021

9.a Arrangements for meeting face to face

  • R Leech/S Jackson: TT has been reticent to resume face-to-face meetings from previous unfortunate experiences. TT would support meeting face-to-face from next month. The maximum is 12 people, but meetings could be hybrid.
  • Action: H Tobermann/S Jackson to liaise over hybrid meetings