Trams volunteer plea gets 1000 volunteers in hours

The steps up to the platform at the Murrayfield tram stop will be tested to make sure they are safe. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The steps up to the platform at the Murrayfield tram stop will be tested to make sure they are safe. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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TRAM chiefs have been left “stunned” after their quest to find 1000 volunteers to test a new stop was ended within a matter of hours.

The rallying cry was issued as the Murrayfield platform is to be put through its paces before the world’s biggest ­boyband, One Direction, plays to more than 60,000 fans.

It is understood that tram bosses fully expected to fill the 1000 requested spaces – but not at the rate they did.

Within five hours of announcing their plan through the Evening News at 11.30am last Monday, they had received more than 550 responses.

And before lunchtime the next day each space was accounted for.

Former Simple Minds manager Bruce Findlay was one of the lucky few to bag a space.

He said: “I am going on the first public trials in a couple of weeks. . . so there! #tramsarefab”

Bruce will be joined by tram enthusiast John Dunnet, 77, from Lothian Road, who rode the city’s last tram back in 1956.

He said: “I’ve received my e-mail to say I’m booked in so I’m really looking forward to it. I rode the last tram in the city and I can’t wait to ride one again after so many years.

“It will be great to get a look at one and get some pictures up close. I had been hoping to get a go on one before it all goes live in May so this is the perfect opportunity.”

The large-scale dummy run – which has been given the exotic codename Exercise Salvador – lasts for five hours from 9am on March 13.

This summer’s One Direction concert is expected to prove the first major test of the tram network and chiefs are keen to iron out any potential “crowd management” problems in good time. City transport convener and Cllr Lesley Hinds said: “The huge response we’ve had to our call out for volunteers demonstrates the public’s enthusiasm for the forthcoming Edinburgh Trams. As our preparations begin to pick up steam ahead of the launch it’s important that we continue to involve the ­people of Edinburgh.”

This was echoed by Tom Norris, Edinburgh Trams director and general manager, who said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the response to our call for volunteers for this exercise, who are essential for testing out our plans for events and matches at the Murrayfield Stadium tram stop. Excitement is clearly building ahead of the launch, and it’s great to be able to give people the opportunity to take part in preparations.”

Taking steps to safety

EXERCISE Salvador is being carried out to test whether steps leading from the platform to the street are too steep – as suggested by critics – to deal with huge numbers of people.

Tram chiefs also want to know how queues are likely to form once the stop is full and how passengers get off the tram when faced with crowds waiting to board. Six carriages carrying around 150 people will be used in the exercise, with volunteers being run through a host of scenarios. The stop will also be tested for its accessibility to those in wheelchairs and with buggies.

All those who take part will get the chance to take a ride on the tram weeks before anyone else in the city.