Trams

Was on the Edinburgh Trams with the boys at the weekend. We got on at Ingleston and it was steadily busy all the way into town. Possibly too busy for my austic son who couldn’t cope with the layout and space.

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On Sunday, stuff to do and the boys grandad asked ‘So are they worth seven hundred million odd quid?’

You can’t answer that with yes. Plainly they’re not. A single line route, truncated back from the original plans years later than expected at an uber-inflated cost.

The potential of the trams is there to be seen. A fixed transport link that joins with other modes of transport, something that can penetrate city centres and run on street.

I was most impressed with the tram on the dedicated sections that used the guided busway infrastructure. It sped, it moved, I felt it go.

The journey time is the let down, the time to get from Haymarket to Princes Street, it doesn’t have the priority through the congested bit near the junction to Lothian Road. It didn’t whisk us past the buses.

Clearly that needs addressed and so does giving it somewhere to go.

Trams should have been our future.

Their introduction to Edinburgh has effectively killed off that transit mode for other towns and cities for a few more years if not by decades.

Tram-train might be an answer in places, using heavy rail infrastructure differently around the Glasgow network, perhaps diverting off routes to serve new places.

But how can investment be justified if electrification is being rolled out, the ‘but the A9 needs dualled’ is another argument too.

A greener transport network isn’t looking likely unless some sort of step change in bus ‘clean’ engine technology is around the corner.

I’m dismayed. Let’s hope there’s vision and commitment to improve how we get about Scotland and I do hope Edinburgh’s tram network is a success and that it is expanded.

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