City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Engineer Delivers Damning Verdict on Edinburgh Trams


By actionman - Posted on 26 September 2011

Alan Welsh, a highly experienced and respected engineer delivered a damning verdict on Edinburgh trams and the following is a quote from his letter, "by default or design the original vote to terminate the Edinburgh tram at Haymarket would have resulted in the city being spared a major traffic catastrophe. Trams cannot be considered in isolation from their impact on other traffic and infrastructure.   City centre, on-street running of trams on over-used streets which are non-extendible and of  limited width, was always a disaster waiting to happen.

Taking the tram forward from Haymarket to St Andrew Square/York Place, will create a massive range of problems; firstly, there will be an impossible traffic situation at the Haymarket intersection where Georgie/Dalry and Glasgow Road traffic will have to be backed up to give priority to the trams.   Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (Tie) have admitted that they, "cannot make West Maitland Street work".

Secondly, there is provision for only two further stops to St Andrew Square, at Atholl/Coats Crescent and Primark , which in themselves are not the most convenient locations, but to provide no stop at all at Waverley Station will make Edinburgh the first city in the world whose tram neither serves or stops at the main city rail station.

Thirdly, the futile extension into York Place, merely to provide a turn round, will block access into the city bus station and also into the St James' Centre multi-story car park, as well as removing two complete lanes from the only east/west cross-city traffic route along Queen Street and York Place.

In addition it is anticipated that Princes Street will have to become 'tram only' as it will become increasingly difficult for the buses to pass each other on Princes Street.   This may force buses on to George Street with the possible consequence of having to remove all private cars and parking from George Street.

The net result of all these measures is that traffic will completely grid-lock and a great increase in pollution will be the inevitable result.   The Council will doubtless then be forced to implement an imposed congestion charge, possibly with a city-centre traffic ban which will inevitably lead to the demise of most retail activity in the city centre.

Terminating the tram at Haymarket, although possibly bequeathing the city with a redundant white elephant would have saved the city from chaos, economic demise and pollution death.

The Council should have known that any additional transport infrastructure imposed on a city should always complement, not compete with, that already in place.   Edinburgh trams, if continued on street beyond Haymarket, will compete for existing, and fixed, road space and will destroy the efficient operation of Lothian Buses."

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I can't disagree with the assessment in general, and that a congestion charge is pretty much essential as a way of offsetting the negative impacts of the tram. Many major cities have some form of congestion charging and/or are discouraging discretionary single occupancy driving in the city through traffic calming/parking measures and more extensive pedestrian-cycling initiatives.