When tram conductor Craig Scotland rings the bell and drives the first service of the second year of Edinburgh’s trams out of the depot at Gogarburn, he will closing the scrapbook on probably the most challenging period for the troubled service.
Years of construction hell meant that the tram had to deliver once it was finally operational, and both director Tom Norris and transport convener Lesley Hinds, writing in the Evening News, have confessed to feeling the nerves at 5.30am a year ago tomorrow.
That first service was greeted by tram die-hards with jubilation. Tram fans piled on early in the morning with signs, cheers and home-made models, turning Mr Scotland’s early morning shift into an impromptu party. Some of the passengers may in fact already have been partying – in a blog post yesterday, Mr Norris revealed that CCTV had picked up passengers arriving at the tram platform well ahead of the appointed time.
Cheering tram fanatics gave way within days to crowds screaming for different reasons. Thousands of teens flooded Murrayfield to see their One Direction idols, providing the first major test for the line; a month later, it was Celtic fans, displaced by Commonwealth Games preparations and cheering their team on against KR Reykjavik and Legia Warsaw in Champions League qualifiers.
For those more interested in the performances off the pitch, it was a good result for the trams, but soon things were coming off the rails. Balloons, lightning, and a series of collisions with buses in the West End meant that interruptions to service seemed like they were running to schedule more than the trams themselves.
The festival brought big crowds, but no late-running trams and no on-board comedy shows. New Year brought the Six Nations, and this time the tram line easily outplayed Scotland’s back line.
And passenger figures of nearly five million were a boost as transport bosses gathered to cut a first birthday cake this week.
Bring on the terrible twos.