Tram Porgress - ‘Let scars heal before expanding city routes’

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IT has been a week of notable landmarks for the Capital’s trams project.

Members of the public, including our own political editor Ian Swanson, got to travel on a modern Edinburgh tram for the first time – and the test ride was fairly smooth.

Motorists in the west of the city also had something to cheer when one of the main routes between Murrayfield and Gorgie reopened after a year of tram work-enforced closure.

Any good news connected with the trams has to be treated with caution given the project’s past tendency towards self-destruction. But there is a growing confidence at City Chambers that things are now moving in the right direction.

So much so that the 
Labour-SNP coalition is willing to concede for the first time that expanding the tram line will soon come up for discussion. Councillor Lesley Hinds says her new Transport Forum is likely to discuss the possibility next year.

Of course, it is only common sense that a group of councillors, transport 
experts and community leaders gathered to examine how people will get about Edinburgh in years to come should consider the potential of the tram line. It would be plain silly to ignore the fact it will, in all likelihood, exist after 2014.

It is also legitimate to ask whether, after suffering so much disruption, it would be better for Leith to enjoy the benefits of a speedy connection to the city centre and airport.

Nevertheless, it is a sure sign of growing confidence that Cllr Hinds is willing to admit publicly that discussions are likely to take place. Only a few months ago, all politicians with serious expectations of re-election were running a mile from any such suggestion.

Given the number of lessons that must have been learned over the past years, perhaps Edinburgh is better placed than any city to start building another tram line. We should be global leaders in the field after all the mistakes.

But please, please, don’t let’s even think about building more tram line any time soon. The instincts which prompted Labour to promise a moratorium on major road works before May’s election are right. We should let the scars heal first.