EDINBURGH TRAM INFO - The studies
Page last updated Q2 2013
This page details some of the studies completed by Edinburgh Council and its predecessor Lothian Regional Council, which resulted in Edinburgh having Bus Lanes, a Guided Bus Way and the planning of a transport route to the Airport – all before the decision was taken for the proposal for a Tram Network for Edinburgh.
We also provide information concerning a few other attempts to reintroduce trams.
Details for the current Edinburgh Tram Network are provided in our “Origins” page.
GUIDED BUSWAY – CERT
OTHER TRAM PROPOSALS
OTHER STUDIES IN BRITAIN DURING THE LATE 1980s & EARLY 1990s
Over many years Lothian Regional Council and latterly The City of Edinburgh Council completed studies to consider the future of public transport requirements covering the City.
For the purposes of this site we have looked back on some of the many studies completed since the late 1980s.
Lothian Regional Council undertook the “Edinburgh Area Public Transport Study” between April 1987and June 1989. The studies involved the then Scottish Office.
Phase 1 was the Survey and Review between Spring of 1987 and Spring of 1988. The purpose was to examine the need and demand for public transport and to identify the types of public transport which seem best suited to cater for that need and demand.
Phase 2 was the Development Proposals. Having completed the survey and review it was necessary to examine alternative public transport networks and forms of public transport, and from this examination develop a “preferred” long term strategy for public transport.
The budget for the Study was set at £800,000 and eventually cost £650,000.
The Report details some interesting statistics.
(a) Public transport usage was high, with 75% of the population making at least one public transport journey per week.
(b) On an average weekday 362,000 single trips were made by local transport, 60% of which were to or from the City Centre, and 98% of which were made by bus.
(c) The average duration of a one-way public transport journey was 20 minutes, for an average distance of 7km.
(d) Peak flows of bus passengers to and from the City Centre had declined by 6% in the last ten years, compared with 17% in the previous ten years.
(e) Public transport usage was still high enough to require that buses, trolleybuses, light rail, metro and conventional rail services be considered further.
The conclusion from the information was further public consultation and technical testing. This resulted in Lothian Regional Council having a preferred and chosen strategy as follows -
(a) An 18km North South Light Rail Metro Route (Muirhouse/Davidson’s Mains to Gilmerton/Liberton) via the City Centre and using the Scotland Street Tunnel. At an estimated cost was £184m
(b) An East West Light Metro Line (Westerhailes to Leith) via Haymarket and City Centre at an estimated cost of £144m.
(c) The South Side Suburban Rail Line
(d) West of Edinburgh rail Line
(e) Park & Ride sites
(f) Limited Bus priorities.
The Council also agreed to consider extending the North South Light Metro Line into Midlothian.
This is a map of the proposed developments courtesy of Lothian Regional Council report of the time.
It will be noted that the East West Line Surface Route covers the same broad area as the suggested Network route from the Broomhouse area through to Leith.
This map shows the area covered by the then Lothian Regional Council. (Courtesy Lothian Regional Council).
Further detailed evaluation and consultations were completed in early 1990s.Some opposition was evident for the street running section between Cannonmills (near the entrance to the Scotland Street Tunnel) and Cameron Toll. Comments appeared in the local press, for example…. “would you like a train passing your front door going at 40mph…” and “…how would you like a pylon in your front garden…” a reference to the overhead wiring arrangements.
The result was a proposal to build the tram underground from Warriston Park to just passed Cameron Toll, an additional 4.4km of tunnelling which would increase costs to £300m for Line 1 in 1991 prices.
Maps from the Lothian Regional Council department of transport report showing the proposed route with the underground section.
A bus way study was considered as an alternative to the East West Tram using the alignment of the proposed line 2.
By 1993 the plans for the North South line were cancelled due to the increasing costs.
GUIDED BUSWAY - CERT
Plans were then put in place to build the East West line as a Guided Bus way which could eventually be upgraded to light rail. This proposal was for a £35m scheme to be known as CERT (City of Edinburgh Rapid Transit).
Illustration from Lothian Regional Council transport department as published in the Edinburgh Evening News - courtesy of the Edinburgh Evening News.
When the Lothian Regional Council was disbanded the City of Edinburgh Council took over the planned CERT Edinburgh Bus way project. This project was an ambitious plan to run buses along a guided roadway system (similar to the one in use in Essen in Germany).
The map above shows the planned route from the Airport via a proposed Park & Ride facility at Ingliston. This route closely resembles the tram route which is now in place up to the section of the West Approach Road, where the bus was to go along this road and where the tram now runs along a new embankment through Haymarket and onto Shandwick Place. This was part of the planning for the bus way.
In 1995 the local Edinburgh Evening News reported information from Lothian Regional Councils Transportation Department. “Airport fast track stays on schedule”. The £28m rapid transit route proposed to travel through west Edinburgh which has been under discussion for over five was to proceed for Westminster Parliamentary approval. A Public Inquiry was expected in 1996 with construction commencing in 1997. The route was expected to be up and running by the Summer of 1999. Funding of £15m was to come from the Scottish Office and a 25-year franchise was envisaged for the design, construction, and financing of the project.
A 1.5 km section of Guided Busway was eventually opened in December 2004 which was between Saughton and Gyle approach using guide wheels fitted to some of the existing fleet from Lothian Regional Transport Buses. (It closed in January 2009 to be converted to part of the Edinburgh Tram Network Line 2.)
One other item that came to fruition was the Edinburgh “Greenway” scheme. Greenways are controlled under the City of Edinburgh Council Greenways Order 1997 (as amended).
The first of the Greenways bus lanes commenced in August 1997 between Maybury and Princes Street. The promotional publicity for the new bus lanes confirmed that “Greenways is a new scheme for traffic on main routes to give priority to buses in lanes (surfaced with green material) enabling them to travel more quickly and easily into the city centre.” 40 years after the trams were disbanded Edinburgh was to introduce bus lanes as the answer to public transport needs.
Most of the main routes to and from the City Centre are now covered by the Greenways scheme.(Booket from City of Edinburgh Council - Guide to the Greenways Scheme).
“Edinburgh’s Transport Choices” a survey completed by The City of Edinburgh Council in 1999. This was “Edinburgh’s Choices Your Choices” with views sought on various transport options.
(The City of Edinburgh Council was able to boast that Greenways were increasing bus usage. The new express bus way would assist travel from the Airport, West Lothian and West Edinburgh. Two new Park & Ride sites with new stations were to be built. The Ingliston with a link to Edinburgh Park and Newcraighall with the Kinnaird Park site).
Three Options were proposed to assist improving public transport. The Council sought new legislation to start charging vehicle traffic entering various zones, areas, or roads, within the City, and a levy for workplace parking spaces.
The proposals were outlined –
Option 1 – New Charges, Major Investment, and Significant Improvements
This raised the prospect of charging £1 to cross the City boundary, levied electronically, raising around £30m per year.
This would pay for rapid transit routes (bus way or, in the longer term, light rail/tramway) routes, with high quality interchange with local buses; bus increase and priority signalling; three of four Park & Ride sites; major rail improvement South Suburban Line and Waverley route to Galashields; city wide cycle routes; improved road maintenance; etc
Option 2 - New Charges, Medium Investment, and Limited Improvements.
This was to show what could be completed with charging employers £200 per space per year for workplace parking raising around £5m per year.
This would pay for more frequent buses; bus priority, one or two express bus routes; three or four Park& Ride sites; around a third of the cycle-wide routes; slightly improved road maintenance; etc.
Option 3 – No new Charges, Low Investment, and Very Limited Improvements.
Without new resources the transport improvements would be limited – bus lanes on more routes; second express bus way route; one or two Park & Ride sites; Around a firth of the city-wide cycle routes; road maintenance at current levels; etc.
The form is shown below
The Council held a local referendum for the people of Edinburgh in February 2005. 291,000 ballot papers were issued. The preferred option proposed by the Council was to allow them to charge motorists for driving through certain areas. The residents of Edinburgh were allowed to vote on whether the Council could obtain the necessary legal powers to proceed.
Two “cordons” were proposed. The outer cordon was roughly in line with the City by-pass so effectively travelling inside the City by-pass area would incur a charge. The inner cordon covered travelling inside approximately the West Approach Road, Dundee Street, West Coates, Randolph Cliff, Stockbridge, the top of Leith Walk, London Road, Cannongate, Melville Drive in Newington, Dalry Road, Roseburn Terrace, etc.
Copies of the maps from The City of Edinburgh Council with the areas are shown below.
The money raised was to provide better transport options including a Tram Network.
The local paper in Edinburgh, The Scotsman, ran a story at the time indicating that “Confusing ballot papers “may affect road toll vote””. This referendum was slightly unusual in that the voters were required to vote on whether to accept the Council preferred option by indicating Yes of No to the question. The confusion was possible as this new type of postal voting had only been tried once before in Edinburgh, when the Colinton by-election vote took place in the previous October (with a 61% turnout).
The Referendum to vote for the Councils preferred strategy to allow them to obtain the power to start charging motorists resulted in -
Yes (support the Council and allow charging) 45,965
No (no congestion charge and therefore less money) 133,678
The result was that the Council were denied the ability to charge motorists for driving during certain times or in certain areas of the City.
The Council reviewed the options and following positive feedback that Trams were still a favoured option, a decision was made to ask the Scottish Minister for financial assistance to allow them to build a network of Trams lines. At this stage the Network as proposed would cost £545m and resulted in a Grant from the Scottish Government of £500m, with the remaining £45 coming from The City of Edinburgh Council.
The Tram Network proposed would connect all the parts of Edinburgh that were important to the City economy – Edinburgh Airport, The Exchange Financial District, and Leith (which would assist the regeneration of the Leith area), etc. All these areas were critical to the City and would benefit the economy.
Please click on the Network Plans page for detailed information for the current Edinburgh Tram Network scheme.
OTHER TRAM PROPOSALS FOR EDINBURGH
Edinburgh hosted the Light Rail Exhibition in November 1996 where an ambitious plan by a private sector firm Edinburgh Tram Company announced plans for a £40m line between Haymarket Station travelling along Princes Street and proceeding down Leith Walk to the Docks area.
The line would use a low profile weight system and a newly developed Roadliner tram.
At that time plans were in place for a major redevelopment of Leith Harbour including a new cruise liner terminal, and the Scottish Office were due to relocate there. Forth Port PLC as a local company still existed. The Council completed a study and the venture did not proceed.
The Council completed a study in 2000 considering the possible introduction of a Heritage Tram Line running along George Street and turning at both ends using Charlotte Square and St Andrew Square. The trams would be stored at Lothian Buses Central Garage in Leith Walk, or possibly Russell Road to the west. Thoughts of a possible line down the Royal Mile to the new Scottish Parliament building were also considered.
Original Tram 35 was still in possession of Lothian Region, stored at the National Tramway Museum in Derbyshire, and 226 was undergoing restoration at Central Garage, both of these would be available.
After a short period of financial considerations, this plan was shelved.
OTHER STUDIES IN BRITAIN DURING THE LATE 1980s & EARLY 1990s
It should be remembered at this time; in late 1980s and early 1990s in the Britain we saw various proposals for the introduction of light rail and tramway schemes. Very few were built in England, and the only new tramway in Scotland is in Edinburgh.
London Docklands - where the initial 12 km system opened in August 1987; the extension to Bank opened in 1993 surface line to Beckton in 1993; and a cross Thames study to Greenwich.
London Croydon – 30 possible sites were considered by London Regional Transport and British Railways / Network South East. The result was the proposal for a tram to cover Croydon area.
London – the studies for Alexandra Palace, Kingston, Watford, Redbridge not producing street running.
Manchester – Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive. The Act of Parliament for the first part of 32km of the 100km proposal was in place. The cost was estimated at £110m for the line between Altrincham and Bury. Metrolink was to open in the first line of many on 6th April 1992.
Sheffield – South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive. The Act of Parliament for the first part of many was approved 1988 for the initial construction process of a 22km light rail service. A Section 56 grant was made by the Government. The first tram ran in public service on 21st March 1994.
Bristol – Advanced Transport for Avon. Parliament approval was requested in 1989 for a Bill covering the first line of 17km. Progress was slow.
Birmingham –West Midland Passenger Transport Executive completed consultations for a Metro project with the first section of 19km seeking parliamentary approval in November 1988 and two further lines in 1989.
Leeds Bradford – West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive seeking to reintroduce trolley buses in Bradford and a light rail system for Leeds. The first Bill was with Parliament in 1988, but quickly withdrawn due to political controversy. A guided bus way project met the same fate.
Reading – Berkshire County Council in 1989, considered a 12.8km system costing £26m for the Basingstoke Bath Road areas.
Southampton – Southampton City Council had submitted a parliament Bill for an elevated people mover. This proposal failed to pass through Parliament and was eventually withdrawn.
South Hampshire – Hampshire County Council were completing a consultation process for a possible line in Fareham-Gosport-Portsmouth area. A proposal for a consortium led £65m line covering Fareham to Gosport did not receive funding.
Strathclyde – Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive completed studies for a possible 12 route tram network covering Glasgow costing approximately £500m.
Teesside – Teesside Development Corporation and Cleveland County Council considered the potential for a light rail route linking Darlington Saltburn (Stockton and Middleborough) with possible extensions was costed at around £60m. Submission to Parliament.
Liverpool – Merseyside Development Corporation and the Mersey Passenger Transport Executive undertook studies into using the former Overhead Railway route and also the Eastern Areas.
Nottingham – Nottingham Development Enterprise undertook a feasibility study completed in 1989, with recommendations for a light rail system. Initially a 12km route covering the Hucknall Midland Railway Station and a cross city line were considered.
Swindon – Wiltshire County Council completed a consultation in 1989 for the possibility of a light rail system to cover Swindon.
Cardiff – To assist with the redevelopment of the Cardiff Docks area a study was completed to consider a light rail route from the centre of Cardiff to Cardiff Docks.
Aberdeen – Studies completed suggested that a light rail system would have little benefit to the City of Aberdeen.
Others – Other areas had light rail under consideration with little chance of progress. These included Cambridge, Chester, Gloucester (a heritage / tourist line) Hull, Norwich, Plymouth, and Reading. All to no avail.
(More details will be added as time permits)
Manchester (Metrolink) opened 06/04/1992
Sheffield (South Yorkshire Supertram) opened 21/03/1994
Nottingham (Net) opened 09/03/2004
Birmingham Midland Metro opened 30/05/1999
London (Croydon) opened 10/05/2000
London Docks (Dockland Light Railway) opened 31/08/1987
Official Tram Operators Sites –
These links are to the official sites for the second generation street running tram networks in England -
Please click on any image to view it at a larger scale. You will then be able to navigate forwards and backwards between photos or see them as a slide show.
Opposition from the businesses in Sheffield during the construction works was evident with this poster campaign.
The ticketing and validation machines which are seen through out Europe were subsequently withdrawn from Sheffield due to constant theft and vandalism.
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