It may well have been true that, 50 years ago, the suburban railway lines of Edinburgh (your report, 28 April), being roundabout in their routeing due to the city's natural topography, were seen as uncompetitive in relation to more direct bus services.
It didn't help, of course, that the buses were owned by the Corporation - who, on the casting vote of the Lord Provost in the case of the south suburban line, refused to intervene to stop the closure of a line with over 0.75 million journeys per year.
Nevertheless, as was predicted at the time of closure of Edinburgh's local stations in 1962, increasing road traffic congestion in the city has over the intervening years only served to strengthen the case for re-using these routes for local passenger traffic. What matters, after all, is not so much the directness of the journey but rather the time it takes. Many car drivers today, for instance, choose to cross Edinburgh using the City Bypass because, although longer, such a journey usually takes less time than taking the shorter route through the city.
So, how about a journey time of 9 minutes from Morningside to Haymarket? Or Portobello to Waverley in 6 minutes? Or Haymarket to Ocean Terminal in 16 minutes? All these journey times were being achieved by rail 100 years ago - and the Portobello journey would be even faster today by train if only the Scottish Government would agree to such a service. For the other two and more, it's very much to be hoped that trams travelling off-street on the south suburban line and the old north suburban routes will be allowed to offer folk in Edinburgh the same opportunities to slice through the city sometime in the 21st century.
Capital Rail Action Group
50 (3F1) King's Road
Edinburgh EH15 1DX
Tel.: (0131) 669 1336
Published in The Scotsman at http://www.scotsman.com/the-scotsman/opinion/letters/letter-suburban-rail-1-2264574