Meet the hot shot Maverick known as ‘Tram cruise’

Dale Buchanan has been likened to Tom Cruise's Maverick character in Top Gun due to his love of shades. Picture: Greg Macvean
Dale Buchanan has been likened to Tom Cruise's Maverick character in Top Gun due to his love of shades. Picture: Greg Macvean
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AN Edinburgh hot shot tram instructor has been nicknamed Tram Cruise – because of his love of aviator sunglasses.

Dale Buchanan, 22, has risen through the ranks to become one the city’s youngest tram drivers and youngest instructor helping his wingmen get to grips with the £776 million transport system.

Never without his trademark shades, his colleagues have christened him with his star-studded nickname in homage to Tom Cruise’s character Maverick in the 1986 cult film Top Gun.

However unlike the movie hero, Dale, from Kirkliston, doesn’t feel the need for speed – and won’t reveal whether the Saughton or Bankhead tram stops are considered halfway to the danger zone.

“There are worse nicknames to have,” he said. “It all started [when] members of the public took a photo of me driving the tram with my shades on and people on Twitter began 
calling me Top Gun Junior. The lads then began calling me Tram Cruise. I don’t just wear them for the hell of it, though – Edinburgh can have quite a low sun and when you’re heading into town, it can be quite blinding.”

The former St Mary’s Academy pupil applied for a job as a driver with Edinburgh Trams in 2012 after he lost his job as a go kart mechanic in Livingston.

At the tender age of 20 he became one of the first four tram drivers to be hired in the city for more than 60 years.

Four months later and he was actually giving the training.

He said: “All the drivers are given some initial training and then I take them out and instruct them on speed limits, track signs and hazards.

“Each driver also needs to know not just how the tram works but how the overall network runs, too. Once you know these things it makes driving the tram 100 times easier.

“It’s not just a case of turning them on and moving a handle; you have to be aware of rail conditions, tram weight and gradients whilst also being fully concentrated on what’s happening ahead of you.”

One of Dale’s charges and fellow drivers is similarly fresh-faced. Craig Scotland, from Silverknowes, is just 19 years old and he’s been handed the honour of being the first driver to take a tram through the city once the line opens to the public on May 31.

He said: “It’s a real privilege to be given this honour, it’s a real bit of history in terms of Edinburgh.”

Tom Norris, Edinburgh Trams director and general manager, believes the pair are symbolic of the youth and vibrancy running through the entire organisation.

He said: “Dale’s a great guy to have in the Edinburgh Trams team. Although he’s our youngest tram instructor, he hasn’t let it faze him.”

Mr Norris said the young staff are all “excellent ambassadors for Edinburgh Trams’ can-do attitude and positive company ethos”.

david.oleary@edinburghnews.com