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01.06.14

Edinburgh Trams finally in service

The long-awaited Edinburgh Trams system which runs from the Scottish capital’s airport and city centre has finally went live over the weekend.

Passenger services for the new Edinburgh Trams got underway on 31 May, with the city council saying it “marks the start of a new era for integrated public transport in the city”.

However, the project, which has taken six years to complete, has been controversial with delays plaguing the development. Also, there were issues over funding.

The scheme originally was costed at £375m in 2003, but by May 2008, when contracts were signed, the cost had ballooned to £521m. In the end, the Edinburgh Trams project had a revised budget of £776m, which it remained in line with.

According to the city council, following several months of essential and rigorous testing, commissioning and training, the trams will now become a key part of Edinburgh's transport mix, offering an “efficient and sustainable link between the airport and York Place in the city centre”.

Edinburgh’s transport convener Cllr Lesley Hinds said: “Two years ago, I pledged to do everything in my power to ensure we brought this project in on the revised budget and revised schedule. It was never going to be straightforward, but with an incredible team effort and a focus on results, it now feels fantastic to be where we are today. 

“The tram project has been hugely challenging for the people of Edinburgh but now there seems to be a growing positivity in the city about the start of a brand new transport service. I know from first-hand experience how trams can transform and enhance a city and I am determined Edinburgh should make the very most of the opportunities ahead.”

TramForward, the campaigning arm of the Light Rail Transit Association (LRTA), stated that Edinburgh Airport is shortly to benefit from the new tram and rail interchanges at Gogar and Edinburgh Park, which, coupled with the introduction of Park & Ride facilities along the tramway will lead to further development of integrated public transport and lessen traffic pollution in the city centre.

Andrew Braddock, chairman of the LRTA, said: “The long and difficult construction period will quickly be forgotten as Edinburgh’s residents and visitors discover the benefits of a modern tram.”

Transport minister Keith Brown added that the tram link will support employment and much improved local, national and international transport links. “This will include connections to the airport, bus station and railways, such as the recently refurbished Haymarket Station, and a new Edinburgh Gateway rail-tram interchange as part of the Scottish government’s £742m Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme,” he added.

 Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

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