Of trams and other things

I live outside Edinburgh but work in the city.  I used to work in Glasgow.  When I worked in Glasgow I lived in Edinburgh.  As a commuter the main difference between the two cities is that Glasgow has an intergated public transport system – regular reliable buses, an underground system, and local train lines throughout the city; and Edinburgh doesn’t.  Public transport in Edinburgh is almost tolerable if you are tying to get into the centre (although it takes ages, even with occasional designated bus routes)  but reaching inaccessible parts (like the Scottish Executive buildings in Leith) can be an adventure, and travelling from one outer area to another is hugely problematic.  I once carried out work for the Executive and it took less time to travel from Glasgow to Edinburgh than it did to get a bus from Edinburgh centre to the Executive.  Similarly, when I lived in the Parkgrove area of Edinburgh my train from Glasgow to Haymarket was quicker than the bus back home from Haymarket to Parkgrove.

In recent years proposals to reinstate a tram system in Edinburgh were approved by the Scottish Parliament.  These proposals are not popular with some businesses (bus companies?) nor with the SNP who – on taking government – launched a funding review.  The funding review reported earlier in the week indicating the tram project was on time, on budget, had been robustly costed and was nothing to worry about.  The SNP disagree (early indications were given in a shambolic interview friend of the blog Stewart Stevenson gave to Newsnight Scotland where his ineptitude shone though).  Wee Eck, the Great Healer in the Necropolis of Scottish parliamentary politics, confirmed that today.  He’ll be voting agin the tram project (no doubt his SNP colleagues and the members of the West Lothian mafia that runs Nationalist politics will follow the Great Healer in pushing the appropriate buttons).

Now, why on earth would the Brian Souter funded Scottish Nationalist Party vote against introducing competition in public transport in Edinburgh?  For the life of me I can’t think of a decent answer.

About loveandgarbage

I watch the telly and read when not doing law stuff and plugging my decade and a half old unwatched Edinburgh fringe show.
This entry was posted in scottish politics, trams, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Of trams and other things

  1. hoiho says:

    a bus from Edinburgh centre to the Executive
    Ah, the marvelous. mythical 22; a shy bus, that travels in packs, and only comes out when it’s quiet..
    When I worked in Leith (on the Links, and then on Commercial St, opposite the Executive building), I gave up on the bus, and walked. It was faster.

  2. Apart from this interpretation, in what bizarro world would the future PM of an independent country (in his own mind at least) not want a capital city with some sort of light rail system? Methinks he has drunk more of the Anglo-Saxon coolade than he might want one to think.

    • hoiho says:

      He might just want a tram system that is well planned, and actually goes somewhere useful.
      FWIW, Edinburgh still has a reasonably good urban rail network; it just doesn’t have any open stations on it.

      • Ah. Is that what he wants? I was aware (from my sub to Modern Tramways) that the SNP were against it, but it hasn’t said what they are for.

        • hoiho says:

          It might be. I don’t really know.
          But I do know that I’m, by and large, in favour of light rail. But I think that the Edinburgh scheme is barely worth a bucket of warm spit. And it’s certainly not worth the money that the Parliament wants to spend on it.
          I don’t know how well you know Edinburgh, but Haymarket to Newaven is, quite possibly, the worst route they could have chosen – from Leith to Newhaven does not have the traffic to justify a light rail link, and it’s debatable if one is needed down Leith Walk. But, because Leith Walk is nice and wide, and Leith to Newhaven is quiet it’s an easy implementation. Not a good way to plan a transport system, that. The only possibily useful part of it is Haymarket to Picardy place – and even that is doubled by the heavy rail line (and 70% of Edinburgh’s bus routes).
          And, speaking of doubling: the route doubles a good deal of the LRT 22 bus – which the cooncil have just spent a lot of of money on, in the form a guided busway. Which was also a monumental waste of money. And it’s almost never full…

      • He might just want a tram system that is well planned, and actually goes somewhere useful.
        GIven the Souter backing I’m not sure if this is his motivation. The SNP campaign seemed nimby-ish, but I may be doing them an injustice there.
        FWIW, Edinburgh still has a reasonably good urban rail network; it just doesn’t have any open stations on it.
        Which is absolutely ridiculous. When you look at the Glasgow system – its reliability, speed, and regularity; and contrast with Edinburgh it’s shocking.
        YOur other point about the 22 made me laugh. I’ve never seen fewer than 2 22s together, invariably one completely full, the other a chauffeur driven trip for someone who got on at one end or t’other and is taking full advantage of the £1 fare.
        Apologies for the late reply. My comment notification is all to pot and I only received the e-mails this morning.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “Now, why on earth would the Brian Souter funded Scottish Nationalist Party vote against introducing competition in public transport in Edinburgh? For the life of me I can’t think of a decent answer.”
    I can’t either. Do you have one?

    • Nope, particularly when trams appear a more environmentally friendly form of transport than the buses existing on the routes (and when the minister for transport also has responsibility for climate change).

  4. Anonymous says:

    Stagecoach don’t operate any local services in Edinburgh. The only outfits which would be threatened by the solitary £700m tram line would be the local authority owned LRT, and First Group.
    Nice try, though.

    • Aside from the Fife services into the city (and to the airport).

      • hoiho says:

        True, but then the proposed tram route doesn’t go anywhere useful out to the airport, or anywhere nearer Fife than Haymarket.
        Now, a tram system that ran along the Corstorphine, Dalkeith, Morningside, and Queensferry Roads, and Leith Walk, that might be of some use.

        • I agree. I think the tram route is though not an end step but an indication of practicality and popularity before beginning other projects (at least that was my understanding, though I may be completely wrong on that 😉 ).
          The airport point is primarily directed at the other project that the SNP wish to target – where a direct rail link will mean that certain bus services (within Edinburgh and from north of the Forth) won’t be used.

          • hoiho says:

            Poit taken. But, on the other hand, if you’re trying to prove popularity, picking a totaly pointless route (Leith to Newhaven!?) isn’t the smartest move.
            And the last administration did pick the (hugely) most expensive option – by quite a long way – so I can quite see the point of cancelling it. Although I’d be happier if they committed to one of simpler, cheaper, proposals.

          • on the other hand, if you’re trying to prove popularity, picking a totaly pointless route (Leith to Newhaven!?) isn’t the smartest move.
            Ah, but where do the civil servants live?
            Remember that Oxford was served by a motorway many years before Cambridge because the relevant civil servants in the Ministry of Transport were Oxford graduates ((c) Jay and Lynn, Yes Minister)

          • hoiho says:

            Do civil sewrvants congregate in Trinity?
            I can’t imagine them living in Leith.
            It’s a nice story, but the M40 still doen’t reach Oxford, where the Mi1 does reach all the way to Cambridge…
            And the opening dates of the M40, and M11 are only a few years apart… (confused on both M-ways are they were both built in stages).

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