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08 March 2014
Surely not? A moving Edinburgh tram…with passengers too!

Surely not? A moving Edinburgh tram…with passengers too!

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There was probably a collective sigh of relief among the council and Lothian Buses staff when the shiny new tram rolled smoothly back into its destination after a brief 30 minute demonstration journey.

The trip, to mark the official hand over from the contractors to the City of Edinburgh City Council saw the tram taken between Edinburgh Airport, the depot at Gogarburn and the Park and back to the nearby Park and Ride.

On board was Transport Minister Keith Brown, Edinburgh’s transport convener Lesley Hinds, a few special guests – and a media pack armed to the teeth with cameras and notebooks.

And while a last minute glitch such as a breakdown, may well have given a good headline, being on a living, breathing tram would have to be excitement enough.

The Edinburgh trams are still something of a dirty word – anybody who has set foot in a black cab in the city will know to avoid the topic at all costs – and shops in Leith Walk and Haymarket are still seething at the disruption the project has caused them.

This small journey along a 2.8km section of track marks a small milestone ahead of the plans to finally open the tram to paying customers in summer 2014, when it will stretch to York Place.

Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western MSP for the SNP, who was also along for the ride, said that despite his party’s opposition to the trams, it was important that they were a success, although the former Lothian Buses driver said this should not be at the expense of his former employers.

He said: “They are here now, they are coming. We have to make it work because we can’t afford for it not to work.”

The tram gets up to 43 mph and, even though its final destination will be far short of the original plans to go through Leith and down to Edinburgh’s waterfront, it will give a congestion free route for commuters between the airport and the city as well as better links to the west of the city – via Edinburgh Park Station.

This weekend Scotland takes on the current Six Nations champions Wales at Murrayfield, and Keith Brown said that by the time the tie comes there again in two years time, they will have an extra transport choice to get there.

While this is many months – and several tonnes of track to be laid – before that point, seeing a tram-load of passengers (even if they are from the media) travelling at full pelt is certainly a step in the right direction.

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