AN OLD railway path connecting a city community to one of the new tram stops is to be upgraded in efforts to get more people to use the £776 million line when it opens next year.
Edinburgh City Council is planning to pave a two-mile trail that skirts Carrick Knowe Golf Club, connecting Station Road in Corstorphine to the Balgreen tram stop.
The authority wants people to use the path to walk and cycle to the tram line before catching the state-of-the-art vehicles into the city centre.
The tram line from Edinburgh Airport to York Place is due to open next May.
Only a small section of the track, which is part of the former Corstorphine branch railway route, is sealed. The rest of the route is covered in gravel and natural stone. The project is not one identified as a priority by sustainable transport charity Sustrans.
City transport vice-convener Jim Orr said: “Part of the route has already been upgraded and the plan is to bring the section which runs from Balgreen to Pinkhill up to the same standard. Work will commence after we consult with the local community about our plans. This is a good example of integrated transport in the city as it will be one of many ways people will be able to access the Balgreen tram stop.”
The council has estimated it will get just over five million passengers a year on the trams in the first two years.
As much as £3.2 million a year is being set aside to cover start-up costs and operational losses. But Conservative transport spokeswoman Councillor Joanna Mowat dismissed suggestions the trail was only been improved in a bid to bolster tram passenger numbers.
She said: “People prefer using trams, we know this. All the research says they prefer trams. Are they going to do it [cycle to the stop]? I really don’t know, but I think it’s good that routes are linked up.”
Corstorphine Community Council chairman David Salton predicted that local residents would use the upgraded path “provided there were facilities at Balgreen to store bikes”.
Ian Maxwell, from cycling campaign group Spokes, welcomed the council’s move, saying: “Edinburgh has already upgraded a lot of old railway lines and that’s one of the reasons why we have such a growth in cycling over the past 20 years.”
TRAM testing from Edinburgh Park to the Gogar depot will start on Tuesday.
The schedule of tests along the three-mile section of line will gradually increase over coming weeks until more than 150 journeys are being made each day.
Variable message signs and posters are being used to warn people to watch out for the trams, which can reach speeds of 45mph.