Tramspotting takes Capital by storm

A tram in motion taken by Robert Drysdale

A tram in motion taken by Robert Drysdale

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THREE years late and millions over budget but it seems the much-maligned trams project is finally putting a smile on people’s faces.

Hundreds of snaps of the sleek carriages have appeared on the Twitter micro-blogging site since regular daytime testing began, taken by smart phone-toting people stunned at the sight of the delayed roll-out.

A tram in the city centre captured by  Kate Parker @kawgparker

A tram in the city centre captured by Kate Parker @kawgparker

With their own hashtag – #tramspotting – the pictures underline growing interest in the hitherto much maligned project. The mini craze has seen pictures uploaded from every conceivable vantage point – the City Chambers, Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh Airport Control Tower and the Scott Monument, to name but a few.

Silent, flowing and with a top speed of around 40mph all of the snaps are – predictably – similar. But that has done little to quell the eager speed with which people are taking them.

And it seems everyone is getting involved in the city’s favourite new pastime, from city transport convenor Lesley Hinds to former Simple Minds manager Bruce Findlay and Michelin-starred restaurant owners Chris and Jeff Galvin all posting snaps of the shiny new trams to their followers.

The trend owes its identity to acerbic Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, 55.

The Leith born writer came up with the #tramspotting hashtag and has tweeted in the past: “@EdinburghTrams Can’t wait. Love them when they came to Dublin. Best thing that happened to the town.”

Aping Welsh, tram director Tom Norris used the same hashtag when he posted a picture taken from over the shoulder of the driver on the tram’s first foray into the city centre in daylight hours last week.

Within hours of that journey hundreds of amateur snaps had appeared on the site.

Its use is so prevalent it is now used on official safety messages giving progress about line testing, which is being ramped up ahead of the first fare paying passengers rushing aboard in just a few weeks’ time.

Snap happy picture takers are split into two camps; those genuinely caught up in the excitement of seeing one of the light rail trains; and those who post the snaps with a sneer, unable to forgive the colossal sum of money spent on the project. One Glasgow-based psychologist said the unexpected social media fanfare has created a whole new dimension to the “tram story”. She said: “What we’re seeing here is hysteria of the new. People, whatever camp they fall into, seem unable to get enough of the trams and want to share that fact with everyone.”

Self-confessed “tram lover” Bruce Findlay posted one of the obligatory snaps of a tram going about its tram testing business. He loves them so much, he has even signed himself up to be one of 1000 volunteers to test the Murrayfield tram stop on March 13.

He has tweeted in the past about how he wanted to be a tram driver as a boy and said: “I am going on the first public trials in a couple of weeks . . . so there! #tramsarefab.”

Tram bosses are hopeful of the positive feeling continuing in the coming weeks as the trams continue to become a daily part of city life.

City transport convener and Cllr Lesley Hinds said of the social media craze: “We’re really pleased that it’s taken off and we’re seeing lots of great pictures of Edinburgh’s new trams from enthusiastic tramspotters! Keep them coming.”

david.oleary@edinburghnews.com