This is a historic day for the Capital.
When the original Edinburgh Corporation trams launched on November 6, 1871, their horse-drawn carriages were the exciting future of transport in the city. That initial service between Haymarket and Bernard Street, in Leith, proved popular with passengers and gradually evolved. After several expansions and technological improvements over the decades, it eventually served Edinburgh well for 85 years.
That is a model that the new tram service will hope to emulate. If the line launched today endures as well as the Victorians’, our grandchildren’s grandchildren will be riding on it at the cusp of the next century.
And, if it thrives that long, who knows where it might reach by 2099 – over the Forth to Fife?
Of course, first the new service must prove its worth. It must walk first before it can dream of, metaphorically, running.
We must all hope though that the trams – already a cherished part of our past – will become central to our future too.
With the population of Edinburgh expected to grow by more than a quarter in the next 25 years, an environmentally-friendly way of getting large numbers of people around the city, quickly and efficiently, will only become even more important.
The new tram line has been a very long time in coming. And its birth has been far more painful than even the pessimists predicted.
But now is not the time for recriminations. Lessons must be learned from the construction debacle and those responsible held to account. That, though, will be dealt with at a public inquiry – and, hopefully, soon.
Now is the time to appreciate what we have got for our £776 million – and enjoy it. It is exciting. Take a ride. Go out to the airport, For, whatever your cabbie has told you over the years, it does go all the way there.