Post by Basil Jet Post by Richard Tobin Post by Scott
Whereas the trams were adored by Glaswegians .
Perhaps they went to more useful places? If you happen to want to
travel between two places served by the tram it's no doubt very useful
(though apparently slower than the bus), but that's rather a small
proportion of the people in Edinburgh.
No way! The tram is slower than the bus?
Well, yes, and no.. ;-)
The Edinburgh tram system is a metro system with relatively frequent
stops which serves the city centre and various trip generators (some
residential areas, business/retail parks, a Park & Ride site) to the
west of the city ...and which also 'happens' to serve Edinburgh
Airport. It was also originally intended to serve a significant part of
the residential areas to the north of the city.
Because of that core purpose, it was never intended that the tramline
should be the absolutely most rapid route to the airport, that was
supposed to be the airport rail link (which was cancelled). The
tramline is intended to be a medium-capacity metro system with greater
capacity and speeds than a local bus service, and it does do exactly
that, following a corridor with already existing high passenger flows.
The Airlink bus service is a semi-fast bus service to the airport with
only limited stops (and which does indeed also serve some different
residential areas en route), which follows a slightly more direct route
than the tramline. The two co-exist and serve slightly different
purposes and intermediate areas.
Regarding speed and journey time, the tramline was at some point of the
design process downgraded from 80 km/h to 70 km/h (which probably costs
2 - 3 minutes on the off-road section overall for starters (although I
suppose it would have savings in electricity costs)).
It also has some sections which seem to be slower than they perhaps
ought to be:
* indirect and S-bendy route between Ingliston and Gogarburn
* unnecessary 'switchbacking' vertical curvature (and speed limits)
between adjacent high-level bridges between Bankhead and Saughton (I
don't know why the embankment wasn't built at full height between them)
* sharp horizontal and vertical curves on the Carrick Knowe bridge over
the railway which impose 30 km/h speed limits on an otherwise long
continuous 70 km/h section (I don't know why the bridge and approaches
weren't designed for higher speeds (with noise baffling if necessary))
* speed limits through the admittedly unavoidably wiggly section around
Haymarket depot that seem a little on the conservative side, my gut
feeling is that this section could be 5 - 10 km/h faster).
Each of these restrictions perhaps only costs 30 - 60 seconds, but
together they all add up over the length of the route..
The overall journey time figures often quoted may be slightly
misleading. The end to end journey time by tram is indeed about 10
minutes longer than the Airlink bus, but this ignores that the tramline
also continues further northeast in the city centre than the bus (which
is more useful for connections for people in the north and east of the
Depending on where you are actually travelling to, or what onwards
connections you need to make, it might be the case that sometimes the
tram may be more convenient and sometimes the bus (for example, the
tram has very good adjacent connections to bus services at the Mound
which go to high-density areas south of the city centre, including the
University of Edinburgh and Marchmont, which the Airlink bus does not -
time "saved" on the bus might be lost again by the walk to change
Both services are useful parts of the city's transport infrastructure,
it's not an all-or-nothing issue. Hope this helps to explain!