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Lawrence Marshall article on trams for Edinburgh Evening News

posted 17 Apr 2012, 12:11 by Colin Howden   [ updated 18 Apr 2012, 23:50 ]
Are you sick and tired of the tram project and of all the disruption of recent years? So am I.

I've always thought, though, that trams would be good for Edinburgh. Not a magic bullet (there isn't one!) to solve our transport and environment problems but a help along the way. Elsewhere, once up and running, they're popular. There's still no reason why that can't be true in our capital also.

I'm disappointed that we've ended up with a tram line that runs only from the city centre to the airport.

Forth Ports pushed initially for Edinburgh to bring back trams - because it was along the Waterfront from Leith to Granton that much of the new housing to allow Edinburgh to live sustainably was to be provided. Indeed, a town the size of Falkirk was to be built there. Better that than building on the Green Belt or encouraging yet more commuting from Fife and the Lothians.

There's still a need to develop along the shoreline - and to provide housing that folk want at a price they can afford. And Leith is a really important part of the city.

Buses are great - but trying to shift the numbers involved here would require "wall-to-wall" buses. That's usually a recipe for a slow journey.

So, as someone who went to school in Leith, I say we should "Persevere" with the trams.

Much of the groundwork to get the trams down Leith Walk has already been done - and the street will look good with trams. I'm relaxed about private funding - but that probably won't be enough. The Scottish Government paid much more for the 5-mile M74 extension in Glasgow than originally envisaged. "Not a penny more" didn't apply there. It shouldn't apply in the capital either.

And what to do with the trams that will still be surplus? - even if we do get to Leith.

Little France is obviously somewhere worthwhile to aim for. So let's use some of our trams to run on the underused south suburban railway from Haymarket through Gorgie and Morningside to Cameron Toll and thence on-street to the Royal Infirmary. Network Rail are keen to get tram-trains running in Britain. Opening up new journey opportunities and causing little disruption to build, such a proposal would undoubtedly add value to the costly investment in blood, sweat, tears and treasure already made to bring trams back to Edinburgh.
Lawrence Marshall is Chair of the Capital Rail Action Group