City of Edinburgh Council’s Head of City Development, Dave Anderson, confirmed on Radio Scotland this morning that Line 1b will not be going ahead ‘for the foreseeable future’.
This controversial route was planned to branch from the tram line currently being built through the city. The spur (the previous plan for a loop to join the Newhaven to Airport line was trunkated some time ago) was due to run from Haymarket to Granton.
This plan to improve public transport to north Edinburgh was controversial as it would have meant that a very well used walking and cycling route would be affected. Due to pressure from Spokes the council agreed to keep a path alongside the tram. This would have been very narrow in places (due to the overbridges) or be diverted away from the fairly flat route.
In addition the idea of taking the tram to the Western General Hospital was rejected as it would have increased journey times for people living or working in the new developments at The Waterfront (largely unbuilt and very much ‘on hold’).
Most of the trees and vegetation along the route would have been removed, completely changing the character of what is known as the Roseburn Corridor – a corridor for wildlife (notably badgers) as well as non-motorised humans.
Officially Line 1b is shelved rather than cancelled, but Dave Anderson indicated that any future development of a tram system would be more likely to be Tramline 3 linking the city centre with King’s Buildings and the Royal Infirmary. This could sensibly be extended to Queen Margaret University in East Lothian and into Midlothian (possibly along the former railway line to Loanhead), but such developments are now many years away.
Perhaps today’s news will allow some serious discussions about a sensible and viable ‘sustainable’ transport future for Edinburgh involving walking, cycling and public transport – buses (Edinburgh still has one of the best bus services in the UK), trams and rail. Re-opening the South Sub would cost significantly less than Tramline 3 and could be part of much better rail system in the East of Scotland.