Edinburgh trams begin taking paying passengers

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EDINBURGH’S long-awaited trams have finally begun to take paying passengers.

Crowds packed on to the first tram in Edinburgh since 1956 at 5am with a party atmosphere on board.

The first passengers wait to board today. Pic: PA

The first passengers wait to board today. Pic: PA

The landmark day for the project follows six years of building work and well-documented problems.

By lunchtime, bosses were forced to draft in extra trams due to passenger demand - three trams leaving Gogar to join with the nine already in service. Long queues were seen at stops as city residents flock to get on board.

It wasn’t all plain sailing, however, as a faulty ticket machine on York Place apparently also led to long queues.

Protesters meanwhile converged on Princes Street and unveiled posters demanding a public inquiry into the project.

Passengers on the first tram. Pic: David O'Leary.

Passengers on the first tram. Pic: David O'Leary.

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But the trams were hailed as “absolutely fantastic” by one of the travellers on the very first service.

Tram enthusiasts Marjory Broom, 59, and her husband George, 63, were on board as the first service left the Gyle.

Mrs Broom, her husband and their son Christopher, 31, were excited to be on the first tram early this morning.

She said: “We’re all tram enthusiasts so we’ve been following the progress of the trams for some time.

Driver Craig Scotland, 19, makes history by pulling into Gyle Centre station at 5am,  May 31, 2014, to pick up passengers on the first ever passengers service on Edinburgh's new tram system.

Driver Craig Scotland, 19, makes history by pulling into Gyle Centre station at 5am, May 31, 2014, to pick up passengers on the first ever passengers service on Edinburgh's new tram system.

“I thought they were fantastic, absolutely fantastic. It was chock-a-block, and it was a real carnival atmosphere on board with people cheering as the tram set off.”

She added “We’ve been on trams all over the world and the tram in Edinburgh today was really, really smooth. It was the first tram and it was standing room only, it was very, very busy.

“I’m really excited we managed to get on - there would have been no buzz being on the second tram.”

The family all travelled on the first tram as it went from the Gyle to York Place, before heading out to Edinburgh Airport and then back to the Gyle.

Mr Broom added: “The Edinburgh trams, I think they are the best I’ve been on, they’re very very wide and very, very smooth. I think they will be very succesful. We just have to hope they extend the service so it goes down to Leith and possibly even Granton, then it would be a proper network.”

He added: “It was great to see the trams have finally arrived, it was good to go along Princes Street on the first tram, looking up at Edinburgh Castle with the sun shining.”

People in Edinburgh, Scotland, May 31, 2014, at York Place tram stop, celebrate the arrival of the tram with a bottle of Champagne.

People in Edinburgh, Scotland, May 31, 2014, at York Place tram stop, celebrate the arrival of the tram with a bottle of Champagne.

Also on the first tram was city council transport convener Lesley Hinds, who conceded the transport project had been “hugely challenging” but said there was now “growing positivity” about the trams.

“Two years ago, I pledged to do everything in my power to ensure we brought this project in on the revised budget and revised schedule,” she said

“It was never going to be straightforward, but with an incredible team effort and a focus on results, it now feels fantastic to be where we are today.”

A spokesman for Edinburgh Trams said that they were experiencing “bedding in issues” in regards a faulty ticket machine on York Place.

He said: “We have drafted in extra ticketing services assistants to help people with purchasing their ticket. It is a new service and we would ask members of the public that notice a problem to flag it up with a staff member.”

Passengers queue up at York Place. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Passengers queue up at York Place. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

The first paying passengers wait to board a tram at the Gyle shopping in Edinburgh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 31, 2014. Edinburgh's long-awaited trams carried their first paying passengers today. The first service was ran from Gyle shopping centre at 5am, bound for the city centre. The controversial scheme to return trams to the streets of Scotland's capital has seen the construction of a line from Edinburgh Airport to York Place, costing around �776 million.'See PA Story: TRANSPORT Trams'Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The first paying passengers wait to board a tram at the Gyle shopping in Edinburgh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 31, 2014. Edinburgh's long-awaited trams carried their first paying passengers today. The first service was ran from Gyle shopping centre at 5am, bound for the city centre. The controversial scheme to return trams to the streets of Scotland's capital has seen the construction of a line from Edinburgh Airport to York Place, costing around �776 million.'See PA Story: TRANSPORT Trams'Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

A Edinburgh Trams employee as the first paying passengers wait to board a tram at the Gyle shopping in Edinburgh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 31, 2014. Edinburgh's long-awaited trams carried their first paying passengers today. The first service was ran from Gyle shopping centre at 5am, bound for the city centre. The controversial scheme to return trams to the streets of Scotland's capital has seen the construction of a line from Edinburgh Airport to York Place, costing around �776 million.'See PA Story: TRANSPORT Trams'Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

A Edinburgh Trams employee as the first paying passengers wait to board a tram at the Gyle shopping in Edinburgh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 31, 2014. Edinburgh's long-awaited trams carried their first paying passengers today. The first service was ran from Gyle shopping centre at 5am, bound for the city centre. The controversial scheme to return trams to the streets of Scotland's capital has seen the construction of a line from Edinburgh Airport to York Place, costing around �776 million.'See PA Story: TRANSPORT Trams'Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Jamie Cockburn, 29, from Edinburgh and Louise Maclellan, 26, from Edinburgh, about to board the first ever tram at Gyle Centre, Edinburgh, May 31, 2014, which left at 5am this morning.

Jamie Cockburn, 29, from Edinburgh and Louise Maclellan, 26, from Edinburgh, about to board the first ever tram at Gyle Centre, Edinburgh, May 31, 2014, which left at 5am this morning.

Craig Scotland drives the first tram carrying paying passengers at the Gyle shopping in Edinburgh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 31, 2014. Edinburgh's long-awaited trams carried their first paying passengers today. The first service was ran from Gyle shopping centre at 5am, bound for the city centre. The controversial scheme to return trams to the streets of Scotland's capital has seen the construction of a line from Edinburgh Airport to York Place, costing around �776 million.'See PA Story: TRANSPORT Trams'Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Craig Scotland drives the first tram carrying paying passengers at the Gyle shopping in Edinburgh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 31, 2014. Edinburgh's long-awaited trams carried their first paying passengers today. The first service was ran from Gyle shopping centre at 5am, bound for the city centre. The controversial scheme to return trams to the streets of Scotland's capital has seen the construction of a line from Edinburgh Airport to York Place, costing around �776 million.'See PA Story: TRANSPORT Trams'Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire