Letters: An airport train would have saved us a fortune

Edinburgh tram near the Airport.''Pic Neil Hanna
Edinburgh tram near the Airport.''Pic Neil Hanna
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As I understand it, the concept of the trams in the first instance was to provide a rapid transit system to Edinburgh airport. This manifestly will not happen since the trams have to travel most of their journey through Edinburgh’s congested streets.

In fact, what they do is to compete with all the other traffic, including an excellent bus system. Worse than that, they add to the congestion because tram lines take up a lane on each carriageway. Indeed, I have noticed long lines of buses and other vehicles behind the trams during the ‘training’ period, because they are unable to pass. So when they are actually running the situation will be much worse.

The sensible solution to a rapid transit service to the airport would be a dedicated train. A main railway line goes right past the airport and surely a spur from this leading to a station under the terminal could have been constructed for a fraction of the cost of the tram system and without the huge disruption to the city’s road infrastructure to which the public have have been subjected for several years.

The passengers could reach the ticket counters simply by using an escalator, instead of schlepping their luggage several hundred metres through the Edinburgh weather.

Every city that has built a rapid public transit system to their airport in recent years that I am aware of has opted for a train, eg, Seoul, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney, Milan, Rome. So why did Edinburgh opt for a system destined to fail this purpose from the outset?

Apparently this is not the end of the fiasco - now the plan is to dust down the initial proposal to extend the tram route to Leith, a plan which left the surface of Leith Walk in a state which would disgrace a third-world country, tens of retailers out of business and gridlock. This is going to happen all over again.

I have a suggestion - the estimated cost of this extention would easily fund the proposed express rail link, allowing the public to travel from Waverley station to the airport in 10-15 minutes.

Moreover, it would probably go some way to dampen down the anger I have heard expressed about the great tram fiasco. At least, let us have a referendum on the topic instead of presenting the disgruntled public with yet another fait accompli.

Evan Simpson PhD, FRSE, Western Harbour View, Edinburgh

Early start to HS2 will be a boost for Scotland

I welcome the publication of the HS2 Plus report by Sir David Higgins, formerly the chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority and now of HS2 Ltd (pictured). It calls for the construction of the line to be speeded up to reach the north of England with a hub at Crewe built by 2027, six years earlier than planned, rather than Stage 1 only reaching Birmingham by 2026. The Y-shaped second phase to Manchester and Leeds could then be completed by 2030.

This report is a fresh look at HS2, which sees it as a catalyst for change to rebalance the UK economy.

Under this new plan HS2 would benefit the north of England much earlier, with the benefits that would have for jobs in building it and the supply line as well as capacity on other lines.

The earlier completion of current plans and phase 1 going to Crewe by 2027 means Scotland could and should also benefit from faster services much sooner.

I am writing to Sir David to clarify the implications for Scotland of his proposals. I am urging him and the Transport Secretary to look at how the plan for HS2 to help rebalance the UK economy also applies to Scotland with the new accelerated timescale creating a fresh opportunity for a commitment for the line to continue to Scotland.

Mark Lazarowicz, MP for Edinburgh North & Leith

Faith schools not the cause of sectarianism

For some to suggest that faith schools encourage sectarianism in the year 2014 is frankly preposterous (Letters, March 17).

As someone who attended both Catholic and non-denominational schools, and who chose a faith school for his children, I feel compelled to comment.

Things may have been different in 1950s Glasgow but in modern day Scotland my children happily sit alongside others of varying ethnic backgrounds and faiths, whilst retaining good relationships with the non-denominational school across the way.

Seán Dolan-Osborne, Dunfermline

Secularist schools agenda is disingenuous

Secularist Neil Barber continues to obsess about wanting to end religious observance in schools.

We know that Mr Barber thinks Christianity is superstitious and irrational from his previous letters. Hopefully Edinburgh citizens, if ever asked to vote on it, will not pander to the desire of Neil Barber and his tiny band to drive out religion from our country.

If these secular activists would admit that they have an atheist agenda, intolerant of Christianity, rather than a ‘secular’ one, it would be more honest.

Gus Logan, York Road, North Berwick

Historic legacy at the Edinburgh Playhouse

I wonder if the new director, Adam Knight, is aware that the Playhouse has a unique feature in the shape of the Grand Circle.

It is self supporting and was designed in the early days of ferro concrete by a Mr Frank Gumley. The idea was to give the patrons in the stalls an un-interrupted view of the stage. Mr Gumley later went on to design bridges and typhoon proof houses and flats in the Far Eas.

Christopher Fentiman, Polwarth Gardens, Edinburgh