Tram bosses defend York Place ‘temporary’ stop bid

The York Place tram stop is only temporary
The York Place tram stop is only temporary
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TRAM bosses today insisted a scaled-back stop for York Place was “temporary” – despite no signs that the route will be extended to Leith in the foreseeable future.

A report to be considered by councillors next week says the design of the stop – not part of the original scheme – will be different from the rest of the tram stops from the airport to the city centre because it is only “temporary”.

The city council agreed in September to halt the tramline at St Andrew Square/York Place to keep the project within the revised £776 million budget.

The official line is that extending the route to its original destination at Newhaven will be considered once the trams are running in 2014.

But Infrastructure Secretary Alex Neil, who is overseeing the project for the Scottish Government, has said a decision on taking the line beyond the city centre will be a decision for “another generation”.

Under the original plan, the stop after St Andrew Square would have been Picardy Place, at the top of Leith Walk. But under the revised scheme, the line had to go into York Place to allow the trams to turn back – since there was no room for that in St Andrew Square – so it was decided to create an extra stop there too.

However, officials say if and when the route is extended, the York Place stop would be ripped out and the Picardy Place stop built as planned.

The report for next week’s development sub-committee sets out the detailed proposals for the York Place stop, which would be at the eastern end of the street and include an island platform with a reverse siding for the “turnback”.

The platform would feature a cantilever-type shelter, bins, ticket machines, passenger information display and CCTV. The report says: “As the stop is designed to be temporary in nature, the shelter is a more simple design and differs from the elliptical-shaped design to be used on the remainder of the tram network.”

The word “temporary” is repeated ten times in the report.

Labour transport spokeswoman Lesley Hinds criticised the council’s approach to the York Place plans.

She said: “It can’t be called a temporary stop because at the moment it’s the only plan the administration has. It should be built to the same quality as all the other ones.”

She suggested that, even if the tram route was extended, the York Place stop could be kept rather than build a new one just yards away in Picardy Place.

She said: “If we’re investing money to put a stop in York Place, should it not be considered a permanent stop even if we do eventually take the tram route down to Leith? It’s at the back of the bus station, near the St James Centre and takes you to the whole Broughton area. It may well be a popular stop.”

But transport convener Gordon Mackenzie insisted: “York Place is a temporary arrangement. We will be extending the tram line in the fullness of time.”