David Birrell: Transport system must be fully integrated

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Transport connectivity is essential to ensuring the ongoing economic success of Edinburgh. Confidence is growing and the business and education community in the Capital are eagerly awaiting a fully integrated transport system.

We are already on the right course.

A huge chunk of the £3.5 billion invested in the capital relates to transport. There are the upgrades of Waverley and Haymarket Stations, the new Forth Crossing, the Borders railway and, of course, the tram project. All of which are underway, recently completed or nearing completion. The removal of tram related traffic restrictions is already having a positive impact.

On top of that there is Edinburgh Airport which is now under new ownership. It has committed to investing £150 million over the next five years to allow it, as Scotland’s busiest airport, to compete on the international stage and has facilities that mirror the growth in passenger numbers it is experiencing.

With over nine million business and leisure passengers coming into the capital by air we need to ensure that they are able to make the most of their visit, come back again and become unofficial ambassadors themselves for the city and the experience they had.

We at the Chamber of Commerce are working with other cities on connectivity and making sure we get the right rail and air connections. We are actively consulting with bidders for rail franchises on behalf of the business community.

It is all looking encouraging. We have to ensure all of the transport systems work effectively together both for those who live and work in the city but also for leisure and business visitors.

It’s about transport truly being an enabler – giving people access to places of work, leisure and retail, by providing choice, good value and great customer service.

Ultimately it is essential we effectively tap into international markets. Connectivity is key. We are part of a global marketplace.

Edinburgh is in a unique position to deliver on this because of its scale and the appetite for key players in the city to work together towards this shared goal.

We have to be really clear on setting our collective priorities as a city.

If we get the integrated transport model right, Edinburgh will rightly compete with the most successful major European cities.

We should be proud of that.

• David Birrell is chief executive of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce