The Edinburgh Tramway currently consists of a single 8.7 mile route from Edinburgh Airport on the western outskirts of the City to York Place in the City Centre. The route was initially intended to continue on to Newhaven, near Leith on the shoreline of the River Forth, however the route was cut back to York Place due to a funding crisis. However construction work is now underway on an extension of the line to Newhaven from the current terminus at York Place and is due to be completed and open by 2023.
Initially, there were plans for a branch from West of Haymarket to Granton that would mostly have been on the alignment of a former railway line, and would eventually be joined up with the original line at Newhaven, creating a circular route and also for a branch from the Airport line at Ingliston heading to Newbridge, both lines have been cancelled but may be revived in the future.
The opening of the tramway was much delayed having been due to open in February 2011, however the line eventually opened on 31st May 2014, over 3 years late and massively over budget.
The first tram arrived in Edinburgh during 2010. Tram 252 was displayed on Princes Street at the newly built Princes Street tram stop throughout Summer 2010 and was later displayed at Leith.
Moving on to December 2013 and with construction work completed, the trams could finally be tested on the line between Edinburgh Airport and Edinburgh Park. Tram 264 would have the honour of becoming the 1st tram to reach York Place, doing so overnight between 4/5th December 2013. On 18th December tram 265 also reached York Place with a run to reveal the livery that the trams would carry in service to the press. This was actually the third different livery carried by the trams since their delivery.
Testing and driver training intensified over the following months eventually with a full trial timetable running in the weeks before the tramway opened, in preparation for the big day, when the tramway would finally open to the public.
The tramway finally opened to the public on Saturday 31st May 2014, with a low key launch. 1000 platinum tickets were issued (the number was evenly spread between machines at each of the stops on the system) for the first 1000 passengers. Tram 255 was first to leave Gogar depot that morning, heading to the turn back loop at Haymarket Yards as a standby tram for any breakdowns. Tram 275, the first service tram, arrived at Gyle Centre from Gogar Depot just before 5am and such was the demand to travel on it, it left for York Place full and standing with many people left behind! Demand for travel on the first day was so high that an additional 3 trams had to be brought into service to cope with the crowds. 13 trams were used altogether with 255, 259, 260, 261, 263, 266, 267, 271, 273, 274 and 275 as well as a further 2 trams being used that day. Overall, 39636 passengers used the trams on the first weekend with 24,176 passengers on the Saturday and 15,460 on th e Sunday.
Passenger numbers and Service frequency increase
Since that opening weekend, the tramway has gone on to be a massive success with passenger numbers being higher than expected. In the first year alone, the trams carried 4.92 million passengers. Running times have been extended to match the Airport opening hours and the frequency of the service has also increased as well.
Until 2016, the usual service frequency was 8-10 minutes Monday - Saturday and 12-15 minutes on a Sunday using a maximum of 15 trams from the fleet of 27 trams.
Additional peak time extras were introduced during Summer 2016 and from January 2017, the trams became even more frequent running every 7 minutes during the day time with services reducing to every 10 minutes early morning and into the evening.
An additional stop was built near to the tram depot and connected to the Edinburgh Gateway rail station, which opened at the same time as an interchange for the Fife Circle and services from the North of Scotland. The stop opened in December 2016 with tram 260 being the first to call at the stop, which is located between Gogar Depot and the Gyle Centre tram stop.
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Special all night services were introduced on Saturday Nights in August 2017 to allow better travel home from the Edinburgh Festival, this was repeated in 2018 and 2019. On 10th September 2017, special 'Bike Express' trams were run from St Andrews Square non stop to Ingliston Park and Ride in connection with the 'Pedal for Scotland' event. These extras were running early morning and afternoon only to allow competitors to reach the Ingliston Showground where the event was starting from / ending. The 'Bike Express' has been repeated for 'Pedal for Scotland' in subsequent years.
Construction work is already underway to extend the tramway to the originally planned phase 1 terminus at Newhaven. The expected cost is £144.7 million. The cost would have been higher if it wasn't for the fact that the trams for the route are already in the fleet and the track and overhead poles for the route are already in stock. Completion and opening of the extended route is expected in 2023.
Tram 258 was involved in a collision with a bus on a crossing just outside the Airport in June 2018, resulting in serious damage to the bus and the force of the collision forced the front 2 sections of the tram to derail.
During 2018, peak time extras have been introduced, increasing the frequency to anywhere between 3 and 7 minutes on weekdays with 15 trams required for service. The timetable can be downloaded from the Edinburgh Trams Website
The tramway was affected by the Covid 19 pandemic from March 2020 onwards, with a drastic fall in the number of passengers travelling meaning a reduction in the number of trams in service. As at July 2020, the trams were operating to a 15 minute headway with only 6 trams required on a daily basis, from September a 'peak time' 7 minute service requiring 12 trams operated between 12 and 2pm most days with the 15 minute 6 tram service operating at all other times. All passengers using the trams require to wear a face mask unless they have a medical reason not to. To advertise this fact, Trams 261, 262, 263 and 269 have had vynal masks added to their front ends with the message '#Staysafe, wear a mask'.
|Stop Name||Near by Landmarks||Notes|
|Edinburgh Airport||For Edinburgh Airport||Double track terminus with scissors crossover|
|Ingliston Park and Ride||For Ingliston Park and Ride|
|Gogarburn||For RBS Headquarters|
|Gogar Depot||Tram Depot, can be viewed from service road just off A8 at Gogar Roundabout. Also has a small staff only halt on the main line.|
|Edinburgh Gateway||For Edinburgh Gateway Station||Interchange for services to Fife and the North|
|Gyle Centre||For the Gyle Shopping Centre||grassed tracks either side of station|
|Edinburgh Park Central||For Edinburgh Park|
|Edinburgh Park||For Hermiston Gait Retail Park and interchange with Edinburgh Park Rail Station||Interchange Station|
|Bankhead||For Stevenston College|
|Saughton||For Carrick Knowe and Stenhouse|
|Balgreen||For Edinburgh Zoo|
|Murrayfield||For Murrayfield Stadium and Roseburn|
|Haymarket||For Haymarket Rail Station, Bus Interchange, Dalry Road, Edinburgh International Conference Centre||Interchange Station, start of the street section, there is also a bypass loop to allow shortworkings in Haymarket Yards, just round the corner from this stop|
|West End- Princes Street||For Shandwick Place, St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral||tram stop on island in middle of road|
|Princes Street||For Princes Street, The Mound, National Gallery for Scotland||tram stop on island in middle of road|
|St Andrews Square||For Edinburgh Waverley, Bus Station, St Andrews Square, St James Centre, National Portrait Gallery||tram stop on island in middle of road|
|York Place||For Broughton Street, Leith Walk, Omni Centre, Edinburgh Playhouse||Single track terminus, platform built on the trackbed of Westbound track, extra set of points added in case line extended to Newhaven|
Some Features of the Route
|Concreted curved track and ballasted straight track between Ingliston Park and Ride and Airport stops||Curved Grassed tracks between Gogarburn and Ingliston stops||Grassed tracks and road crossing between Gogarburn and Gogar Depot|
|Gogar Depot seen from the road bridge just off the A8||Curved tracks from Gyle Centre heading to Gogar underpass and at the otherside is Gogar Depot||Road crossing and grassed tracks at Gyle Centre|
|a foot crossing and the view from Edinburgh Park Central towards Gyle Centre stop||View of the bridge over the Edinburgh - Glasgow Rail line from Edinburgh Park Central||View of the bridge over the Edinburgh - Glasgow Railway taken from Edinburgh Park towards Edinburgh Park Central|
|View from Edinburgh Park towards Balgreen||Turnback Siding at Haymarket Yards||Street tramway with track built into road surface between Haymarket Yards and Haymarket Station|
|track spreading for the centre platform at St Andrew Square Stop||Sweeping Curve from St Andrew Square - York Place||A sign of things to come in the future? extra set of points on left hand side at York Place coming from where the single track platformed terminus currently is.|
Some of the furniture you will find at the tram stops
|Shelter at Edinburgh Park Central||Stop sign featuring the new branding||Destination screen at Gogarburn|
Please see 'The Trams' page for more information