Trams on go-slow for first few weeks

Trams will initially operate at a reduced speed. Picture: Scott Taylor.
Trams will initially operate at a reduced speed. Picture: Scott Taylor.
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TRAMS will take nearly three quarters of an hour to get from the airport to York Place when they start.

Bosses say a “conservative” running speed will result in an end-to-end journey time of ­approximately 39 minutes.

They are keen not to run the new line at full speed at first – and say the tempo will be increased as time passes – bringing down journey times.

Announcing the 39 minute end-to-end journey time, Tom Norris, Edinburgh Trams ­director and general manager, said: “We’ve built in some extra journey time for the early stages of the service to ensure we can run reliably while drivers and the wider team get used to operating with passengers. The tram is capable of doing a quicker end-to-end journey time but our priority at the moment is to provide a consistent service.

“Our current timetable will get passengers to Princes Street from the airport in 34 minutes but once the service is bedded in we’ll look again at shortening the journey time.” The 34 minutes it will take airport passengers to get to Princes Street is nine minutes longer than the current Airbus service.

During training it was found that the tram can easily complete the entire 8.7 mile route from the airport to York Place in under 32 minutes.

However tram bosses are wary of overloading the ­system in the opening days and weeks.

Instead a ­review will be carried out on a week-to-week basis as to whether they will ramp the speed up to ­deliver a sub-32 minute journey time.

The city’s Airlink bus shuttle’s advertised journey time is just 25 minutes ­depending on traffic.

Independent transport and planning consultant Robert Drysdale believes it is 
“understandable” tram bosses are bedding the service in at a slower speed.

He said: “It’s quite reasonable why they would do this, they have spent many months bedding in the service at reduced speeds without carrying passengers so it’s only right they should carry this on when they begin carrying real ­people.

“My only disappointment would be in a number of months time if the tram is not able to achieve a 30-minute journey time from the airport to Princes Street. It should be well able to deliver this.”

An information event is to be held today to inform passengers about ticket buying with a parked tram open to board in St Andrew Square from noon until 2pm.

Tram staff will be handing out a leaflet entitled A guide to your new tram service containing information on ticket prices, tram times, ways to pay and ­instructions for ­travelling on a tram.

The first tram to carry fare paying passengers will leave the Gyle Centre at 5am on Saturday May 31.

Between 7am and 6.30pm trams will run every 8-10 minutes – outwith these hours the service will provide a tram every ten minutes.

However on Sundays trams will run every 12-15 minutes.

A single ticket in the city zone will cost £1.50 for an adult and 70p for a child while an airport return will cost £8 for an adult and £4 for a child. Ticket inspectors are to adopt a softly-softly approach but will be able to issue fines to blatant dodgers. Conductors will issue £10 on the spot fines immediately. However, those genuinely confused by the need to validate Ridacards may escape punishment.