Passengers face hard line and fines of up to £1000 under tough tram rules
AN army of conductors able to dish out four-figure fines will be recruited to enforce a barrage of rules on Edinburgh’s new tram line, the Evening News can reveal.
The enforcers will be equipped with powers to ban drinking, loud iPods, musical instruments, T-shirts bearing slogans they find offensive – and even big dogs.
Punitive £1000 fines could be slapped on offenders deemed to have broken a raft of by-laws expected to be ushered in this week. The revelations come just days before the first trams begin live trials on a stretch of completed track.
The Evening News can reveal for the first time the raft of rules with which passengers will have to abide.
The by-laws are set out in a 27-page report which includes detailed definitions of a tramstop, tram inspector and tickets.
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Under the light rail regulations, passengers will be banned from drinking alcohol on any tram or from boarding after having too much to drink.
“No person shall enter, or attempt to enter, or remain on any part of the Edinburgh Tram Network (ETN) whilst in possession of an open container of intoxicating liquor,” add the by-laws. Swearing, spitting or littering will also be considered unacceptable, while the use of musical instruments or busking will be prohibited.
Other regulations will see inspectors given the authority to force people to form orderly queues to get on waiting trams. Passengers will be banned from selling on their tickets, and from playing devices like iPods at levels that can be heard by other passengers.
Wearing clothing emblazoned with obscene or abusive language will be banned, as will “clothing likely to soil or damage any part of the ETN including the fabric of seats in any tram”; and large pets could also be barred.
The new by-laws are expected to be approved by the city council on Thursday.
It comes just six days before the first test runs on the £2 million vehicles start on the line between Edinburgh Airport and Gogar tram depot.
A council spokeswoman confirmed the plan was to have both a conductor and driver on each tram following the service’s official launch scheduled for summer 2014.
The spokeswoman said: “That’s always been the plan. There will be someone to go around to check on the tickets and to make sure everyone’s behaving themselves.”
A decision on whether to employ additional conductors for each tram will be decided by service operator Lothian Buses.
Any passenger found guilty in court of breaching any of the new regulations will be liable to a fine of up to £1000.
Service operator Lothian Buses will also have the power to prosecute a passenger under national legislation for intent to avoid a fare – a penalty that can include up to three months’ imprisonment.
A person who has been convicted of breaching any of the regulations could also be banned from stepping on to a tram stop or into a carriage for up to one year.
Passengers will still have the option of buying tickets from tram conductors, like on the ScotRail network, rather than being automatically penalised, according to the by-laws.
A final decision on the fare structure is also still to be made, despite a working assumption that tickets will be the same as for Lothian Buses, with concessions to apply.
Rail consumer champion Passenger Focus has argued for an overhaul of the powers vested in transport companies through the same by-laws about to be ticked off by the city council.
In a statement, the organisation said: “It could be argued that the heart of the problem is that the regulations were written at a time when tickets were primarily purchased at ticket offices.
“Staff could provide advice and ‘getting it wrong’ suggested some intent or recklessness. These self-same regulations are still being applied despite the fact that passengers are often expected to pick their way through route options and restrictions without adequate information and without direct input from trained staff.”
Other restrictions for Edinburgh will ban tram passengers from damaging tram property, which will include sticking chewing gum to seats.
ScotRail was forced to launch a campaign in September to combat the growing problem of people either putting their feet on train seats or sticking gum on to seats.
The issue cost Scotland’s main train operator nearly £100,000 last year in performance fines. The company was forced to repair more than 350 seats in August alone.
Small animals will be allowed on Edinburgh trams at the discretion of the vehicle’s conductor, but pets will be banned from sitting on seats or being off a lead.
Oversized luggage judged to have obstructed or inconvenienced other tram passengers could be removed under by-laws open to interpretation.
The completed tram system is due to service Edinburgh Airport, meaning passengers carrying at least one heavy suitcase will be a regular sight on carriages. Airport chief executive Gordon Dewar visited the Gogar depot earlier this month to inspect the new trams.
An airport spokesman said: “Clearly it’s always been the intention that the trams would go from the airport and be able to carry passengers and luggage. To me, the luggage capacity looked fairly substantial.
“They’ve probably got more luggage capacity than your average train or bus. Of course, it’s a balance between accommodating people from the airport, but also accommodating other travellers. I think they’ve got that balance right.”
The council said the new tram by-laws have been based on a similar system to Manchester.
That city’s Metrolink light rail network started in April 1992, with four new lines under construction.
The cost of the project, which has been beset by difficulties for almost a decade, is already more than double its original budget of £375m set in 2003.
Figures released last month showed £669m had already been spent out of the project’s revised budget of £742m, or £776m including contingencies.
STICKING TO THE RULES
NEW by-laws for Edinburgh’s tram network due to be approved by Edinburgh City Council will mean passengers have to stick to certain rules.
Under the regulations, the following will be banned outright:
• Flammable or corrosive items;
• Firearms, knives or swords;
• Consumption of alcohol;
• Clothing with offensive language;
• Threatening, abusive or obscene language;
• Littering, including disposing of gum;
• Graffiti or vandalism;
• Urinating and defecating;
• Playing of musical instruments;
• Selling tram tickets.
MORE COST, LESS TRACK
COST over-runs and delays have beset Edinburgh’s troubled trams project since the scheme’s birth a decade ago.
The new tram system was originally scheduled to start service in February 2011, a date that has since been revised to summer 2014 by the project’s prime contractor.
Originally costed at £375 million in 2003, the budget was later increased to £545m. In May 2011, it was revealed that £440m had already been spent on the planned network. A report issued a month later estimated that partial completion of the tram line from Edinburgh Airport to the city centre would cost £776m.
The city council revealed last month it had already spent £669m out of that budget. Disputes between the contractors and Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (TIE), the tram project management company, have exacerbated the delays. The line had been due to extend as far as Newhaven, but will now terminate at St Andrew Square.