Murrayfield: Edinburgh rugby fans complain about trams delays for Scotland v Australia game

‘This will have given rugby spectators a very bad impression’

Rugby fans taking the tram to Murrayfield for Scotland’s match against Australia on Saturday have complained they were delayed by prolonged standstills. And fans waiting at the crowded St Andrew Square tram stop were frustrated at having watch as a tram was held up for five minutes at traffic lights in York Place.

One woman tweeted: “Hugely disappointed – first trip to @BTMurrayfield, let down by @EdinburghTrams being stuck with no explanation as to why we had spent nearly 15 minutes at a standstill. Had we known, we would have got off, walked and not missed the start of the game and the national anthems!”

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And another posted: “Trams are being held up by stop lights on York Place for five minutes at a time whilst St Andrews Square platform is crammed with people waiting.”

Sometimes a tram would be at the St Andrew Square platform when a second tram would be allowed to follow it from York Place, only to be held for several minutes until the first tram moved away, according to Robert Drysdale.

Edinburgh resident Robert Drysdale said the problem was “the absolutely hopeless signalling system at St Andrew Square and York Place”. He said: "I spent a depressing 40 minutes from 4 pm until 4.40 watching our trams fail to deal with the demand for their service from rugby spectators heading for Murrayfield. On a day when the trams had the perfect opportunity to show how they can shift large numbers of people quickly and efficiently, and with Edinburgh Trams promising a three-minute frequency, instead they were struggling to keep moving.”

Mr Drysdale said that since the trams had returned to St Andrew Square in April after a spell when they terminated at the West End while the York Place tram stop was being removed, they had been running empty from St Andrew Square down to York Place to switch tracks. But he said: “The signalling between the two stops has been playing up the whole time. Instead of giving priority to the trams, the signals actually bring the tram to a stop in order to let other traffic proceed, and then hold it for a minute or more before releasing it. They also change in favour of the tram when there isn’t one there.”

On Saturday the situation had sunk to a new low, he said. “Empty trams were being held, sometimes for four or five minutes, when heading both to and from York Place, while the crowds on the St Andrew Square platform just became more and more squashed. There were times when York Place was empty of both trams and traffic, and yet trams weren’t being allowed from St Andrew Square and North St Andrews Street onto York Place to reverse, ready to come back to pick up passengers. I would say the frequency was, at best, every six minutes compared with the promised three. On several occasions I watched the tram signal at the North St Andrew Street / York Place junction give the tram clearance to proceed, only to change to ‘Stop’ just in front of it. Then on other occasions the lights for westbound traffic on York Place would change to ‘Green’ for car traffic while the tram was only halfway across the junction."

He said there were also occasions when a tram would be allowed to leave York Place and run up to the St Andrew Square platform, and then a second tram would be allowed to follow it up from York Place, only to be held there for several minutes until the first tram moved away.

The crowded platform at the St Andrew Square tram stop on Saturday.

"All this will have given rugby spectators a very bad impression of the service, and if the tram signals are as erratic as this when the Newhaven extension opens, it will make for a very unhappy launch of the service.”

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Transport convener Scott Arthur said: “While we did not receive any reports of signalling faults on Saturday, we are continuing to work with Edinburgh Trams to monitor signals at this junction to identify any issues.”

A tram is held in York Place before turning into St Andrew Square while other traffic gets a green light.