Complaints over Edinburgh’s sweltering trams

Passengers are feeling the heat on Edinburgh's trams. Pic: Scott Taylor
Passengers are feeling the heat on Edinburgh's trams. Pic: Scott Taylor
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SWELTERING temperatures have forced tram drivers to open carriage doors at each stop to cool passengers because the £2 million vehicles do not provide air conditioning.

The decision to forgo climate control was taken by the now defunct Transport Initiatives Edinburgh in 2007 when they placed an order with Spanish firm CAF for 27 trams.

But with the mercury hitting 25 degrees in recent days, passengers have told of uncomfortable and sticky conditions on board the £776 million tram line.

Every carriage is fitted with a ventilation system which will only recycle hot air during balmy weather rather than cool it down. Most UK tram systems install air conditioning as standard or have it is fitted retrospectively.

Carriages across the Nottingham and Manchester lines all boast air con while Sheffield’s new trams have also been fitted with the cooling system.

Following a slew of complaints from sweaty passengers the Capital’s tram drivers have now been instructed to open all the doors at each stop in order to circulate the air better – especially at peak times.

John Whighorn, 43, from Ratho, rode the tram on Wednesday when temperatures hit 23 degrees.

He said: “It was seriously hot on board, everyone was sweating.

“When the sun shines and the trams are full, they are not a nice experience. The only windows are quite small and the ventilation system didn’t seem to work at all. It was horrible and sticky.”

Campaigner Daniel Donaldson, who set up an online petition for a public inquiry into the tram debacle, said passengers were told the network would provide a “comfortable and pleasant” journey, but the summer weather proved this “was not the case”.

He said: “Had the council and the Scottish Government planned this project properly and consulted fully, they may have factored the extremes of Scottish summer weather into account.”

Tram bosses said they had acted to mitigate against the soaring on-board temperatures.

A spokesman for Transport for Edinburgh said: “Outside temperatures have reached unusually high levels in recent days meaning the heat on trams has become uncomfortable at times.

“Trams don’t have air 
conditioning but we’re working to optimise the ventilation 
system, we have to keep things as comfortable as possible while temperatures remain high.”

City transport convenor Cllr Lesley Hinds said: “The decision was taken a number of years ago not to fit air conditioning on trams.

“Generally, the weather here doesn’t justify it but temperatures have been unusually 
high and we are looking at ways of improving comfort on board.”

david.oleary@edinburghnews.com