Community Councils Together on Trams/Trams Team meeting, 26 November 2020

Minutes of the Community Councils Together on Trams/Trams Team meeting
(Construction Phase) via Google Meet on Thursday 26 November 2020 at 5:30pm

Actions and decisions are red italic. ‘TT’ means ‘Trams Team’.

1 Attendance

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

2 Apologies


3 Update/queries CCTT

3.a Absence of up-to-date traffic modeling of diversions

H Tobermann noted that some TT answers to CCTT queries had been circulated to CCTT members.

  • M Birch: thanks to TT for the report and quick reply to CCTT’s queries. My review focused on NTBCC’s area – I suggest other CCs also review the report’s contents on their areas.
  • The modeling is from 2019, predating delays/changes due to coronavirus. The St James Centre is due to open in 2021, so much more traffic will enter that area. There are still questions over the final form of Picardy Place (PP). Closing Broughton St and Queen St will significantly impact traffic entering PP from the west and north. Other changes not included in the modeling include those from the Spaces for People programme, e.g. on London Rd.
  • It is welcome that TT is considering East London St – there will be much queuing here.
  • Hence I’m concerned that there is no way to update the modeling to take account of these changes, but further analysis would be very welcome.
  • Presumably this modeling was used to justify TTROs for road closures, but TTROs last 18 months. Will they be extended? If so, how?
  • R Armstrong: CEC has given a special dispensation so these TTROs will last longer than 18 months.
  • R Leech: is CCTT concerned about how TT will justify switching traffic management when the circumstances will be different to those assumed in the modeling, and how this might lead to problems?
  • S Jackson: the modeling for future phases (especially that for construction between London Rd and York Place) was based on out-of-date scenarios, so TT is considering how to change the construction process and associated traffic modeling and management. This work is at an early stage – remodeling is likely to be done in early 2021.
  • M Birch: So I understand that modeling is not happening right now (which would add to TT’s costs) but will be done in 2021. This will enable CCTT to review and comment on the new modeling.
  • S Jackson: If TT does new modeling, it will take CCTT through it
  • S Jackson: CEC has a framework contract with Jacobs. Jacobs can usually undertake work quickly – it needs TT to draft scenarios that can be modeled. Modeling would then take 1-2 weeks, then TT would need to review Jacobs’ outputs. Remodeling would only be done to cover changes to traffic management from the 2018 plans.
  • C Nimmo: it is welcome to hear of this – I had understood that TT did not wish to re-engage Jacobs and hence incur extra costs. Simultaneous closure of Broughton St and Queen St, along with closures/limitations would make it hard to cross the city, leading to more traffic in the northern new town, a major concern for NTBCC residents. Hence, please involve CCs earlier, and show us on-screen modeling.
  • R Leech: once Jacobs has been engaged, and work has been checked, there will be no barrier to this. TT can bring in a Jacobs representative to explain detail.
  • A Mackenzie: there are likely to be similar concerns around the Foot of Leith Walk.
  • S Jackson: there are no fundamental changes to traffic management here, so no remodeling for here is envisaged.
  • M Birch: I will be CCTT’s single point of contact for modeling – other CCs should feed their concerns via me.
  • S Jackson: this approach has worked well. I’m happy to reply to further queries.

3.b Weaknesses of other Council services (waste collections, street/gully cleaning, street lighting) impact on quality of life

  • H Tobermann: are the listed CEC services responding to TT’s needs? I understand that TT work causes barriers to these services’ normal practice. Also, these services may be constrained due to budget and/or coronavirus.
  • S Jackson: there is a dedicated street-cleaner for Leith Walk, providing great service.
  • R Armstrong: there is also a dedicated street-cleaner for Constitution St. Also, the night-shift service is doing a good job on the side-streets. In general, CEC waste services is working well.
    • However, I have raised many issues with the CEC gully-cleaning team to no avail so far. I will continue to chase them daily, especially about Dalmeny St.
    • I’ve received no reports on street-lighting but I work closely with that team’s leader. This team will install new nights on the side-streets of Leith Walk in December.
    • H Tobermann: there is quite a number of non-functioning lights on Leith Walk. This might impact TT’s work and is certainly not good for others. Hence I encourage TT to report defects to the relevant CEC trams.
    • R Armstrong: agreed. I do report issues I see daily. I will monitor street-lighting as I walk the site.
  • H Tobermann: is there a body that connects all CEC heads of services, and is TT regularly meeting these heads?
  • R Armstrong: there are meetings about design, but not currently delivery. Other than the gully team, there have not been major issues. HT and I will meet with waste services tomorrow. We should also meet with the head of the gullies team – I’ve received no response from him.
  • H Tobermann: there are two important issues: (1) that the finished design works well with other services, parking etc; (2) the disruption cause by/during construction. It was agreed early that CEC will deliver excellent services to the areas affected by construction – this needs to be escalated.
  • J Marlborough: rubbish on wasteland near Ocean Drive roundabout is appalling. Bins are not in appropriate places. A local resident is voluntarily trying to keep this area clean. Who is responsible for rubbish-uplift here?
    • R Armstrong: I and HT will chase this at tomorrow’s meeting.
  • H Tobermann: what are the responsibilities of the official RA and I will meet tomorrow?
  • R Armstrong: north-east area, i.e. wards 12 – 15 – all of the tram route. His responsibilities include recycling bins.
  • A Mackenzie: recycling bins are filled very quickly in the Constitution St area. The paper-recycling bin has not been emptied for at least 2 weeks.
    • R Armstrong: this might be due to coronavirus but I will raise it tomorrow

3.c Final design surface drainage, success measures

  • H Tobermann: I received some drawings from K Cameron but he is now unresponsive to my queries. I understand that there are many connections into the Scottish Water (SW) drainage system. Please supply a detailed overview or an example drawing. I was told ~2½ weeks ago that drawings were not finished. Are they finished now?
  • S Jackson: the contractors have designed and hydraulically modeled a drainage network for the entire tram route – this ties into SW’s network. SJ – contractor have designed network for entire line that ties into SW sewage network. Drawings are now finished. What does CCTT need – the drawings are a load of technical lines.
    • H Tobermann: (1) CCTT wants as few personholes as possible in the roadway, because these are more likely to fail; (2) I understand there are three parallel systems (draining the track, the roadway, the cycle-paths) that then join to connect into the SW system. These need to be accessible and easily serviced: such services elsewhere in Edinburgh are not good.
    • S Jackson: I am happy to share information, but the design is not debatable – TT will build what has been designed.
    • H Tobermann: has the designer know Edinburgh’s idiosyncrasies and local topology? There are many examples in Edinburgh of drainage issues, so how can CCTT be sure, for example, that cambers will be correct?
    • R Leech: such detail can’t be seen on drawings showing drainage routes. The design has been checked by the design-team, by Atkins (technical advisor) and via many iterations with SW. TT will minimise chambers to minimise such costs, but it’s inevitable that some will be in the roadway. Ponding occurs if construction is not done to specification – this too is not shown on network drawings.
    • H Tobermann: if I receive the network drawing, I can check whether drainage is in the designed locations. It will not be acceptable if TT delivers an otherwise great tram system but there are still drainage problems.
    • Action: H Tobermann to engage with S Jackson offline.

3.d Early morning noise in Constitution Street

  • J Marlborough: there has been drilling at 07:15, causing much annoyance. It has been asked how this fits with TT’s employee insurance. (A Mackenzie noted that a resident reported severe inconvenience on 16 November.)
  • R Leech: insurance isn’t related to the work-times.
  • S Jackson: We are conforming to the COCP, and need to work the times in that (7am to 7pm) to achieve schedule. Sunday working in this location has stopped – the site has been handed over to infrastructure contractors. TT can’t specifically restrict contractors’ working hours but can ask them to reduce inconvenience.

3.e Conclusion to vibration issues at lower Leith Walk

  • H Tobermann: is there a resolution to this concern?
  • S Jackson/R Leech: Atkins is just about to finish a technical note that should enable an end. It will respond to each issue raised by a concerned resident. Atkins will also include its own observations, to frame the note around a comprehensive review. TT has tried to engage with the resident’s ‘advisor’. TT has not yet seen the tech-note, but the design will meet relevant specifications. TT will brief CCTT on the technical note, and how/why it’s compliant.

3.f Quality control: recruitment progress; sight of (examples of) detailed quality reports

  • H Tobermann: is the new quality-control employee (QCE) now in post? Can CCTT see an example of this work, to understand QCE’s role, and how such work is responded to?
  • R Leech: the project is self-certifying. There is a quality management system in place: TT does spot-audits of the contractors’ work. Hence there are no reports per se: QCE/TT ensure that work meets roads-authority needs, to ensure that the final outcome is fit for purpose. The new QCE starts as ‘eyes and ears’ in January 2021.
    • H Tobermann: are there reports on spot audits?
    • R Leech: yes. Non-conformances are raised, then the contractors must remedy them Lack of compliance would mean the trams cannot operate.
  • S Jackson: there are 2 halves to the project. Section-heads are on-site every day. The contract mandates a defects process: TT can raise issues, then contractors must state how they will be rectified.
    • H Tobermann: does the QCE check through paperwork, or check in-situ?
    • R Leech: there are trained quality-audit staff in place – they raise any non-conformances. QCE’s role is to reports to CEC, checking that delivery meets roads-authority needs, that ponding and similar issues will not occur due to poor construction. (QCE is not qualified to check that track has been laid correctly, that railway will operate as planned, etc.)
  • S Jackson: data on defects reported by QCE are on the dashboard.
    • This shows numbers but not details of the defects. Please provide an example of a defect-report.
    • R Leech: if TT sees trends in defects, TT will share this and how they will be remedied.
    • S Jackson: there may be issues related to contractual sensitivity: TT will report on what it can share with CCTT.
  • M Birch: please explain how the handover process will work.
  • R Leech: this can be done but handover from contractor to operator is very complex. Tasks, e.g. trial-runs of rolling-stock, are enshrined in legislation. TT can take CCTT through handover of civil engineering.
  • M Birch: I would like to understand how snagging will be handled.
    • R Leech: On the original project, senior staff walked the line weekly to check whether defects had been corrected properly – and ask for deficient work to be corrected. TT will ensure that defects are logged and remedied, even if this takes several iterations. Defects must be closed out.
  • C Encombe: a large flood-defence system is being built at Hawick. Residents receive paper updates. Can similar be done for the trams project at significant milestones?
  • C Wilson: TT will look into this – let’s engage outwith the meeting on this.

3.g Discovery Gardens

  • J Marlborough: thanks to C Wilson for his work on this topic. There are some outstanding questions on about whether the new design will be implemented.
  • C Wilson: S Jackson and his team played a key rolehere, as did CEC councillors

3.h Other matters

  • J Marlborough: there are concerns about removal of trees on Ocean Drive and Stevedore Place. I understand Cllr Booth will soon meet with residents.
  • C Wilson: TT has engaged with CEC cllrs and the contractors about Stevedore Place. TT is working on an update, and will engage as appropriate when this is ready.
  • J Marlborough: a resident has not yet received replies to questions submitted via TT’s website.
  • R Leech: TT is aware of these questions. They are not straightforward, but TT has responded to them, and is looking into related ‘supplementaries’. Stevedore Place trees are a priority for consideration.
  • C Wilson: please let TT know of any specific examples of unanswered questions. It can take a while to respond to questions that are about more than trams, but TT will try to provide answers.
  • J Marlborough: there are questions about Constitution St track being surrounded by concrete, rather than cobbles.
  • J Marlborough: the information board at Ocean Terminal is now in a more suitable location.

4 Update TT

4.a Summary of progress made by TT between 29 October and 26 November

  • R Leech: things are going well, track is being laid, no unexpected obstacles have occurred. Work is meeting targets set post lockdown. Work will cease for a 2-week winter holiday – a closure plan is being developed.
  • S Jackson: the key post-break change will be at the ‘bottom end’ – including setting up the work-site from Ocean Terminal to Rennie’s isle in January. Some track will be laid on Leith Walk next week. Track is currently being laid on Constitution St. There is currently significant civil engineering work at Lindsay Rd.
  • R Leech: the programme will deliver in Spring 2023, as originally planned. TT is currently planning how to achieve this – it has not yet recovered any time lost to lockdown.
  • M Birch: the dashboard shows that TT has achieved exactly what was planned. How has this been achieved?
  • R Leech/S Jackson: TT is skilled, and has planned targets based on open sites, so TT knows well it can achieve.
  • A Hardie/A Mackenzie: TT needs to squash rumours of being behind schedule. I recall a TT staffer saying that the project’s economic margins (i.e. revenue from ticket sales) are very thin.
    • R Leech: agreed. TT took care not to over-promise or under-promise during the refresh of the full business case. TT has considered this while compiling the recent report to board – it is acutely aware of the faults with the original tram-project, and that work might not go to schedule. Now the FBC refresh is done, TT could publicise its achievements so far. TT will cogitate what to do.
    • C Wilson: I recently engaged with Ben Macpherson MSP’s office, and frequently engage with others who recall the issues with the original project. So TT is very aware that it should not be inappropriately self-congratulatory. TT continues to message that it will meet various deadlines, and will support businesses until then.
    • C Nimmo: informing people as suggested by C Encombe would be welcome. it is very visible that this project is so much better than the original one, so TT could be more upbeat about its work.
    • H Tobermann: there is much work that can’t be seen. Hence CCTT delves into detail, hopefully adding value. I understand TT’s caution about over-promoting its achievements.

4.b Plans over Christmas/New Year and the next 60 days (26 November – 28 January)

  • H Tobermann: Can TT share in brief its plans for handling issues that arise during the break?
  • S Jackson: Work will cease 18 Dec – 3 Jan. Shutdown/safety arrangements are in place. Staff will be on call in case of issues. The contact centre will be open 24/7. It is in London, but will feed information to teams in Edinburgh – our lines will be open 24/7. The teams will have access to necessary equipment.
    • H Tobermann: CCTT suggests reminding people of contact numbers etc, and timescales for rectifying issues
    • C Wilson: TT will do that in its newsletters. There will probably be 2 editions before the break.

4.c Plans beyond January

  • S Jackson: TT still plans to publish TROs in January. Public realm plans will be published in late January/early February.
  • M Birch: will TROs show detail of pavements and cycle-paths?
    • S Jackson: these will be on the drawings, for context, but are not subject to the TROs.
  • M Birch: how are these approved? There have been significant changes to these plans since the Tram Act.
  • S Jackson: these are built under the Tram Act, so no external approval is needed.
  • R Leech: the Tram Act specifies that certain prior approvals are taken through the approval process. Anything else within the trams area can be done according to the design. Road layouts etc need to go through the TRO process.
    • M Birch: do pedestrian crossings etc go through this process? They aren’t public realm, or part of the TRO, yet there have been major changes to their design. Who approves them.
    • R Leech: for example, cycle-lanes went through two rounds of consultation, netting ~2000 responses. Then Edinburgh Council approved the resulting design in the outline business case. Apart from prior approvals and TROs, this all that is required by legislation.
    • M Birch: the TRO for Leith St specified the cycle-path etc.
    • S Jackson: Leith St was subject to a redetermination order, specifying footpaths, cycle-paths, roadway etc. Such an order is not needed for the trams work.
    • R Leech. TROs go to Edinburgh Council for decision, not to Scottish ministers.
    • M Birch: so we will be able to see details on the TRO documents, but not comment on them or get them changed?
    • R Leech: yes – TT is in the middle of building to designs that received much consultation, and CEC’s approval in the final business case process. This included accurate pricing of the designs put to CEC, and ensured that there could not be later changes that would have financial implications. A thought-through strategy is being used. The TRO process is not mere box-ticking, because CEC can reject plans.
    • H Tobermann: CCTT observes that some things have not been thought through, and did not come together before work started. Hence various factors (e.g. buses, pedestrian crossings) need to be retrofitted to the plans. However, it would not be helpful to change plans at this point.

5 Any other business


6 Next meeting

Thursday 28 January 2021