Hitachi Rail and Friends of Figgate Park come together to build new cycle track in Portobello

An Edinburgh community group has teamed up with Hitachi Rail to create a new railway themed cycle track in Portobello as part of their ongoing development of Figgate Park.

By Neil Johnstone
Saturday, 4th June 2022, 4:55 am

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Volunteers from Friends of Figgate Park joined forces with staff from Hitachi’s maintenance depot this week to build a 230-metre cycle track to provide a safe cycling space for youngsters in the area.

Inspired by feedback from young people, the new track is part of a larger project that will see the partnership build an educational railway themed history trail alongside the cycle path, complete with a train platform and a bench made from decommissioned train wheel sets.

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An aerial view shows the new 230-metre cycle track in Figgate Park next to the Craigentinny Train Maintenance Depot

Funded largely by Hitachi Rail, who also provided machinery and raw materials towards the project, the team of depot workers and local residents worked collaboratively for two days to dig trenches and lay the path as well as move 20 tonnes of topsoil to create a wildflower meadow in the centre of the track.

The local Morrisons store was also on hand to help with the community effort, delivering food and refreshments for over 30 volunteers involved over the course of the two-day project.

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Following the completion of phase one of the project, chair of the Friends of Figgate Park, Debs Holloway, expressed her gratitude to Hitachi for their support during the project. She said: “The new cycle track is a great addition to the play area of the park.

Community members and Hitachi Rail staff moved over 20 tonnes of soil to introduce 1000 plants in the centre of the track to improve biodiversity in the area.

“The idea originally came from local kids and and I'm delighted that it has finally happened. I'm sure it will be well used and we'll see wee ones develop their cycling skills in this fun and safe area.”

Ms Holloway also thanked all the community volunteers who contributed to the effort, that included introducing over 1000 plants in the park. She said: “The wildflower planting on the inside of the track will also increase biodiversity in this area.”

Paul Charles, Hitachi Rail production manager, said: “We are located in a busy part of the city, with limited safe spaces, where infants can learn to ride a bike.

“I know we are all keen to see more kids building up cycling skills and confidence as they will utilise cycling throughout their lives.”

The new cycle track at Figgate Park was opened on Tuesday afternoon with a ceremonial ribbon cutting. From left to right: Craigentinny Depot Manager; Adrian Mathieson, Friend of Figgate Park member; Rachel Murray, Hitachi Rail Production Manager; Paul Charles and Hitachi Rail employee; Jamie Daly.

Adrian Mathieson, Craigentinny depot manager for Hitachi Rail added: “Supporting the local area and creating a better environment is something that is really important to the Hitachi Rail team at Craigentinny.

“Our ongoing collaboration with Friends of Figgate Park is delivering a real benefit for the local community.”