Edinburgh Trams

276 at St Andrews Square276 at St Andrews Square276 departs St Andrews Square with a service from York Place - Edinburgh Airport 5.3.16 The Edinburgh Tramway opened in 2014 and consists of an 11.8 mile route from Edinburgh Airport on the western outskirts of the City to Newhaven to the north of the city on the shoreline of the River Forth via the City Centre. 


On Friday 16th November 1956, the final tram routes (no 23 & 28) of the old Edinburgh Corporation Tramway ran for the final time.  There had been a rush to rid Edinburgh of its trams by the powers at be despite public opinion mainly being in favour of keeping the trams.

The once vast tramway system, which opened in 1871 with the first line from Newhaven to Haymarket using horsedrawn trams.   In the early 1950s, there were 28 routes and around 400 trams, many of them relatively new in tramway terms, but old fashioned in design. Over a period of four years from 1952, they were eradicated and replaced by buses with some of the trams as little as 4 years old going for scrap.   Only one car, Standard Car 35 (pictured on the right at Crich Tramway Village, Derbyshire) was kept as a museum piece.  

Such was the rush to rid Edinburgh of its trams and any trace of their existance that once the final 3 trams of the farewell procession (numbers 172, 88 and 217) reached Shrubhill Depot from Braids, the power was switched off and overnight the power lines and the traffic islands that had served as tram stops on Princes Street were removed.  By the following morning, tram 217, only introduced to service 4 years earlier and the last tram to reach Shrubhill the previous evening, was on a low loader heading to the scrapyard.

It was the end of an era and the chances of a tram once again gracing Princes Street seemed non existant.

Fast forward to just over 40 years later and a congested city centre with its central artery, Princes Street clogged up and congested with hundreds of buses (something that was already beginning to happen as the buses replaced trams in the final years before the original tramway closed) , each of them burning thousands upon thousands of pounds worth of fuel annually.  An alternative was needed, a more environmentally friendly form of transport to aid movement of people in and out of the city centre, they needed trams! 

Planning and construction

Planning began for the new tramway as far back as 1998 with construction beginning in June 2008.  

Inital plans were for 3 lines:

  • Line 1: A circular route on street from Haymarket and Princes Street to Leith & Newhaven then on to Granton and back to Haymarket via Crewe Toll on a former railway alignment
  • Line 2: From St Andrew Square via the Line 1 track as far as Haymarket then out to the Airport via Edinburgh Park with a branch from Ingliston to Newbridge and the tram depot at Gogar.
  • Line 3: From Waverley Station to Musselburgh via High Street, The Meadows, Cameron Toll, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Fort Kinnaird and Newcraighall.

Lines 1 & 2 were approved by the Scottish Parliament, however line 3 wasn't, nor was there funding in place to build the line that would have cost £189 million to build.    In March 2006, plans for construction of Lines 1 & 2 were split into 4 sections:

  • Phase 1a: 11.5 mile line from Newhaven to Edinburgh Airport
  • Phase 1b: 3.5 mile branch from Haymarket to Granton via Crewe Toll mostly on a former railway alignment
  • Phase 2: Link between Granton and Newhaven completing the loop for the proposed Line 1
  • Phase 3: A branch from Ingliston Park and Ride to Newbridge 

A depot was also to be constructed at Gogar and a deal was struck with CAF to build 27 Urbos 3 trams (Numbered 251 - 277) to operate the services.

Construction began in June 2008 and by 2009, the Haymarket - Granton branch (Phase 1b), Granton - Newhaven link (Phase 2) and Ingliston - Newbridge branch had all been cancelled due to spiraling costs.

Tram 252 on display in Princes StreetTram 252 on display in Princes StreetEdinburgh Tram 252 on display in Princes Street 30.7.10 First tram arrives

Construction of the fleet of 27 CAF Urbos 3 trams to operate on the system took place at CAF's factory at Beasain in Spain from 2009 - 2011 and were bespoke to Edinburgh due to Transport Initiatives Edinburgh's unique specifications for them. At 7 sections long, they were some of the longest trams in the world at the time.

A full size mock up of one of the trams was displayed on Princes Street for a time in 2009 before moving to Leith.  

The first tram to arrive in Edinburgh was number 252, arriving 26th April 2010 and going on display on Princes Street on the completed stretch of track at the Princes Street tram stop.    Later that year, the tram was moved to a bus yard in Broxburn, West Lothian, for further storage until the depot was completed.

Further Information on the tram fleet can be found at: https://scottishtrains.zenfolio.com/the-trams

Delays and further cancellations

To say that the construction of the tramway was chaos was an understatement, a series of contractual disputes, falling outs and delays meant that the project was massively delayed and massively over budget.   This led to a much shorter than anticipated line.

Despite work starting in Leith and on areas of Leith Walk to divert utilities prior to construction commencing on that stretch of the line, it was decided to cut the line short in Edinburgh City Centre.  The exact location of the terminus at that point in time was uncertain.   The reason for the uncertainty was that in 2011, Edinburgh City Council had voted to terminate the line at Haymarket, over a mile short of the City Centre, however the Scottish Government had threatened to withhold £72 million of funding if the line ended at Haymarket so the Council backtracked on their previous decision and initially decided to have the terminus at St Andrew Square.   It was later decided to continue the tramway to York Place, with a single track stub and platform as the trams would need to run towards York Place to turn back anyway and it would allow the Playhouse and the top of Leith Walk to be served by the tramway.  It would be June 2023 before trams finally reached Newhaven. 

As if they didn't have enough issues going on, there was the added problem of the road surface and concrete top surface around the tracks on Princes Street starting to break up once the street was reopened to buses and in 2011, Princes Street had to be closed again for 10 months to allow for remedial work to take place!

Testing Begins

tram line up at Gogar Depottram line up at Gogar Depottram line up at Gogar Depot 30.11.13 As the project was running so late and many of the trams were already completed and ready for delivery, initial testing took place on the test track at CAF's factory and test track at Beasain in Spain, including fillng the trams with heavy weights to simulate heavy loadings that were expected and also to simulate travelling up steep hills within the city.

With Gogar depot completed in October 2011, the new trams began to be delivered and with the wiring within the confines of the depot energised, trams could be tested within the depot confines and on a stretch of completed track on the main line stretching for 500 metres from depot.    The first section of the line to be completed and ready for testing of the trams was the Gogar - Airport stretch due to it being mostly open sleeper and reserved track, so on 12th December 2012, tram 277 became the first tram to move under it's own power outwith the confines of the depot with a test run from Gogar Depot to the Airport and back.  

Construction work continued at pace and largely on schedule (a revised schedule and a completely new management team overseeing the project had been brought in) and by June 2013, the Overhead wiring of the tramway in the city centre was complete, however it wasn't all plain sailing 150m of flawed concrete track base between Haymarket and Shandwick Place had to be ripped out and relaid.

265 on Princes Street265 on Princes StreetMy first sighting of an Edinburgh Tram in the City Centre - 265 heads along Princes Street towards the sharp turn into St Andrews Square 4.4.14 By December 2013, construction work was largely completed except for snagging works.  Testing and Driver Training had increased and was extended out as far as Edinburgh Park. However history was made overnight on 4th/5th December 2013 when Tram 264 became the first tram to travel on the streets of Edinburgh City Centre under its own power, since 16th November 1956 when the 1st Generation tramway closed.   264 travelled right through to York Place, albeit at walking pace initially in the City Centre, then returned back to Gogar depot. 

On 18th December 2013 tram 265 became the second tram to travel through the City Centre to York Place as it operated a press run to reveal the livery that the trams would carry in service.   The Madder and White colour scheme, identical to the livery carried by Lothian buses, was the third different livery carried by the trams since they were built and is still in use today.

In the early months of 2014, Testing and driver training intensified initially on the section from Airport - Edinburgh Park before being extended to Haymarket and eventually out to the terminus at York Place.  In the final weeks before opening, a full trial timetable being in operation in the weeks before the tramway finally opened, in preparation for the big day, when the tramway would finally open to the public.  

The opening date was announced for the 31st of May 2014 and tram 275 received vynals with the date and the hashtag #readytoroll on the windows to make the date visible to all as it travelled up and down the line on training runs.


Over 3 years late, massively overbudget and a shorter line than expected, the Edinburgh Tramway finally opened to the public early morning on Saturday 31st May 2014, unsurprisingly 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, heading to the turn back loop at Haymarket Yards, where it was to be held as a spare tram to cover for any breakdowns that occurred or if traffic demanded a further tram in service.  

Soon after 255 departed, tram 275, left Gogar depot as the history making first service tram, arriving at Gyle Centre from Gogar Depot just before 5am.   Such was the demand to travel on that first tram, 275 departed for York Place with a full load with many passengers 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 unrecorded trams being used that day.   Overall, 39,636 passengers used the trams on the first weekend with 24,176 passengers on the Saturday and 15,460 on the Sunday.  

Passenger numbers and Service increase

Since opening, the tramway as been a massive success, with higher than expected passenger numbers with 4.92 million passengers being carried in the first year alone!  

Early changes to the timetables allowed the tramway's running times to be extended to match the opening hours of the airport.  Initial service frequency was 8-10 minutes daytime Monday - Saturday and 12-15 minutes on a Sunday with a maximum of 15 trams used at a time from a fleet of 27 trams.

As 27 trams were purchased when the route was meant to run to Newhaven, Granton and Newbridge, with the shorter route there was now a surplus of trams, meaning that they had to be cycled in and out of service on a regular basis.   There was even talk of 10 of the fleet being loaned to Croydon Tramlink for a period of time, however this never came to fruition.

During the Summer of 2016, peak time extras were introduced in the morning and evening rush hours to increase the frequency and capacity of the service at the busiest times.

Edinburgh Gateway opens

Construction work began during early 2016 on an additional tramstop was built near to Gogar Tram Depot as an interchange with the newly opened Edinburgh Gateway railway station on the Fife Circle line.    Opening on 11th December 2016, tram 260 was the first tram to call at the new tramstop.  Edinburgh Gateway also became the shift changeover point for the tramway and effectively replaced a pair of short platforms outside Gogar Depot, which had previously served this purpose.

The First External Adverts appear

Initially, none of the trams received external advertising, however this changed in December 2016 when tram 261 was chosen to carry adverts for Edinburgh's Hogmanay and the benefits of catching a tram to the event!   The early external adverts carried were limited to advertising the tram service in relation to special events e.g. Edinburgh's Hogmanay, the Royal Highland Show or the Edinburgh Festival (See All Over Adverts page for a list and photos (where available) of all the adverts carried to date!).

251 at Gogar Depot251 at Gogar DepotCAF urbos 3 number 251 wearing its #Tramspotting all over advert, which advertises the 7 minute daytime service now in operation. The tram is stabled at Gogar Depot 16.9.17 A big change to the frequency of the trams was on the way from January 2017, with the daytime services increased to every 7 minutes during daytime from Monday to Sunday with a reduced service of every 10 minutes in the early mornings and in the evenings, this increased the number of trams required to 12 trams to operated the service with 17 required overall and what better way to advertise the improved frequency than with an external advert on a tram!

The advert theme chosen to advertise the improved service was 'Tramspotting' and featured an eyecatching design, appearing on tram 251 with the slogan '#Tramspotting, choose more trams more often' & '#Tramspotting, Choose Edinburgh Trams'

The Tramspotting advert is still one of the best adverts to have been carried by the trams since the tramway opened.

Special Services

Special all night services were introduced on Saturday Nights in August 2017 to allow easier travel options for passengers heading home or to hotels following a night at the Edinburgh Festival, this venture was such a success that it has been repeated each year since.   Similar services have been in operation on Hogmanay and also in September 2022 for the public going to St Giles Cathedral to see Her late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II lying in state.

On 10th September 2017, special 'Bike Express' trams were run from St Andrew 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 commenced from and ended at.  The 'Bike Express' has been repeated for 'Pedal for Scotland' in subsequent years.

CR Smith

August 2017 saw a change in the advertising policy with adverts for external companies now featuring.   The first external company to advertise on the trams was CR Smith, who signed a 10 year advertising contract.  

Over a period of a few months 20 trams out of the 27 strong fleet received adverts for CR Smith mostly with section 3 of 7 featuring a picture of a CR Smith Van and section 5 of 7 featuring the phrase 'From ..... to ..... ' with images representing both locations featuring.  

6 trams still carry adverts for CR Smith with the others now carrying adverts for different companies. Until recently, all adverts carried featured advertising along the top of the tram and have featured contravision advertising on the 3rd and 5th section of 7.  

Summary of the CR Smith Adverts Carried:

Tram No Advert Phrase Still Carried?
251 From Cumbernauld to St Fillans no
252 From Bannockburn to Dundee yes
253 From The Royal Mile to Balintore yes
255 Fae Leith tae Alloway no
256 Whoever Fitted it we can fix it yes
258 From Turnberry to Blair Drummond no
259 From Carrbridge to the Forth yes
260 From Glasgow to Peterhead no
261 From Glen Nevis to North Queensferry no
262 From Dunblane to St Andrews no
263 From Lossiemouth to Kinross no
265 Whoever Fitted it we can fix it yes
266 From Falkirk to Mussleburgh yes
267 From Largs to Dundee no
269 From Inverness to Edinburgh no
270 From Finnieston to Fraserburgh no
272 From Troon to Edinburgh no
274 From Pitlochry to Meadowbank no
275 From Speyside to Aberdeen no
277 From Lochmaben to Dunfermilne no

258 at Edinburgh Park Central258 at Edinburgh Park CentralEdinburgh Trams recruitment all over advert liveried 258 approaches Edinburgh Park Central with a city bound service to St Andrew Square 11.6.22 Derailment

In June 2018, Tram 258 was involved in a collision with a bus on a road crossing just outside the Airport.   The force of the collision caused serious damage to the bus and caused the front 2 sections of 258 to derail.   Repairs to 258 took some time including the damaged sections being taken off site for repairs.

When 258 did eventually return, the repaired end was obvious with the silver angular graphic surround of the window missing and that area being white instead.

Peak Services

During 2018, peak time extras were introduced increasing the service frequency to 3 minutes at certain times of the morning and evening peak during weekdays to help clear the queues.   The latest timetable can be downloaded from the Edinburgh Trams Website

Extension Planning

Planning was at an advanced stage for an extension to the tramway for it to continue down from York Place to Newhaven via Leith Walk to complete the original Phase 1 of the project.   Approval for the project was granted in 2018 with work commencing in 2019, with an expected completion date of Spring 2023 with an expected cost of £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 were already in stock.

263 at Ingliston Park and Ride263 at Ingliston Park and RideWith new vynal mask promoting mandatory wearing of face masks on board the trams, CAF Urbos 3 263 pauses at Ingliston Park and Ride with an Airport - York Place service 13.7.20 Covid 19

Just as every walk of life was affected by the Covid 19 pandemic, the tramway also suffered.   From the start of the lockdown in March 2020, passenger numbers nosedived. Faced with a drastic fall in the number of passengers travelling on the tramway, a reduction in the number of trams in service was required.   From July 2020, the trams operated to a 15 minute headway with only 6 trams required on a daily basis.   This was updated from September 2020 with 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. The peak service allowed for a rotation of trams with those out in the morning returning to depot for cleaning with the trams coming out for the peak remaining out for the remainder of service.

All passengers using the trams were required to wear a face mask unless they had a medical reason not to.   To advertise this fact, Trams 261, 262, 263 and 269, which were advert free at the time, had vynal masks added to their front ends with the message '#Staysafe, wear a mask'.

Normal service was resumed on the tramway during the summer of 2021 with the full 7 minute service being restored at this time.

Newhaven Extension

Construction work continued on the Newhaven extension largely on time and on budget with lessons having been learned from the fiasco of the construction of the Airport - York Place section.

In February 2022, work to join the extension to the existing system was ready to commence.   This required the closure of the single track York Place Terminus as the platform was built on what would become the westbound track.   St Andrew Square became the temporary terminus until June 2023 and after a short closure to allow for the removal of the tram stop at York Place and to lay new track in the area, York Place was used once again to allow trams to turn back at the crossover.  

York Place tram stop was replaced by a new stop in the centre of a large and newly built traffic island at Picardy Place, just 100 yards from the old stop and  opposite the Omni Centre, the Playhouse and St Mary's Cathedral. Picardy Place stop opened with the extension to Newhaven in June 2023.    

The project was at an advanced stage in March 2023 with most of the major engineering work complete, allowing the first tram to make its way at walking pace from York Place to Leith on the evening of Monday 13th March, with tram 258 being chosen to carry out this role.  Night time testing continued over the following weeks with daytime testing commencing on Wednesday 19th April 2023.    Driver training was ramped up with training taking place all day most days, eventually with the shadow timetable running with trams in service from Airport - St Andrew Square then travelling empty down to Newhaven and vice versa.  

Eventually at noon on Wednesday 7th June, tram 258 officially opened the extension as the first tram to carry passengers from Picardy Place to Newhaven.

Trams continue to run from Airport - Newhaven every 7 minutes during peak times and 10 minutes early morning and in the evening with 17 trams required to operate the 7 minute service. 

The tramway had its busiest month to date in August 2023, carrying 1.2 million passengers over the month, proving that the tramway is an excellent way of moving passengers around the city.

Future Extensions

The completion of the route to Newhaven is not the end of the plans to extend the tramway though, with the initial Phase 1b project for the extension from Haymarket to Granton via a former rail alignment thought to be the next aim.    With this particular branch being 'off road' it would be expected that this option would be relatively cheap compared to an on street route and would also serve an area of the city with some of the lowest car usage.

There is also talk of the initial Line 3 proposal for a line out via North Bridge to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Bio quarter and Fort Kinnaird with branches to Dalketh and Musselburgh being resurrected as a longer term proposal.   There is also talk of the Ingliston - Newbridge branch initially proposed as phase 3 of the original propsal being dropped in favour of a line on the A71 corridor out to Hermiston Gate and Heriot Watt University.   We will need need to watch with interest over the next few years to see if any of these proposals come to pass.


The Route

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 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 Andrew 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 now closed For Broughton Street, Leith Walk, Omni Centre, Edinburgh Playhouse Was a Single track terminus, platform built on the trackbed of Westbound track, extra set of points added in case line extended to Newhaven
Picardy Place For Broughton Street, Leith Walk, Omni Centre, Edinburgh Playhouse tram stop on island in middle of road, side platforms
McDonald Road   tram stop on island in middle of road
Balfour Street   tram stop on island in middle of the road, crossover
Foot of the Walk   side platforms
The Shore   tram stop on island in middle of the road
Port of Leith   tram stop on island in middle of road
Ocean Terminal For Royal Yacht Britannia and Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre tram stop on island in middle of road, crossover
Newhaven   Side Platforms, Terminus


Some Features of the Route

Curve from Ingilston - AirportCurve from Ingilston - Airportcurve from Ingilston Park and Ride Station heading towards the Airport 4.1.14 Curve from Gogarburn towards Ingilston P and RCurve from Gogarburn towards Ingilston P and RCurve from Gogarburn towards Ingilston P and R 4.1.14 View from Gogarburn stop towards Gogar DepotView from Gogarburn stop towards Gogar DepotView from Gogarburn stop towards Gogar Depot 4.1.14
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
view of Gogar Depotview of Gogar Depotview of Gogar Depot 4.1.14 Grassed track curve and underpass at Gyle tram stopGrassed track curve and underpass at Gyle tram stopGrassed track curve and underpass at Gyle tram stop 30.11.13 Grassed track and road crossing at Gyle tram stopGrassed track and road crossing at Gyle tram stopGrassed track and road crossing at Gyle tram stop 30.11.13
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
View from Edinburgh Park Station towards Gyle CentreView from Edinburgh Park Station towards Gyle CentreView from Edinburgh Park Station towards Gyle Centre 4.1.14 View from Edinburgh Park Central towards Edinburgh ParkView from Edinburgh Park Central towards Edinburgh ParkView from Edinburgh Park Central towards Edinburgh Park 4.1.14 the viaduct between Edinburgh Park and Edinburgh Park Central Stopsthe viaduct between Edinburgh Park and Edinburgh Park Central Stopsthe viaduct between Edinburgh Park and Edinburgh Park Central Stops 4.1.14
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 Saughton tram stopview from Edinburgh Park towards Saughton tram stopview from Edinburgh Park towards Saughton tram stop 4.1.14 Haymarket Yards turnback loopHaymarket Yards turnback loopHaymarket Yards turnback loop next to Haymarket Station 7.12.13 Haymarket YardsHaymarket Yardstrack from turnback loop up to Haymarket Tram Stop 7.12.13
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
St Andrews SquareSt Andrews Squarelooking up hill towards St Andrews Square tramstop and Princes Street 7.12.13 St Andrews Square - York PlaceSt Andrews Square - York PlaceCurve from St Andrews Square into York Place 7.12.13 York PlaceYork PlaceLooking out from the York Place tramstop, note the point leading from nowhere, probably for if the tramway is extended to Newhaven 7.12.13
track spreading for the centre platform at St Andrew Square Stop Sweeping Curve from St Andrew Square - York Place Crossover at York Place


Station Furniture

Some of the furniture you will find at the tram stops

View from Edinburgh Park Central shelterView from Edinburgh Park Central shelterView from Edinburgh Park Central shelter 4.1.14 Edinburgh Park Central signEdinburgh Park Central signEdinburgh Park Central sign 4.1.14 New Destination screens at GogarburnNew Destination screens at GogarburnNew Destination screens at Gogarburn 4.1.14
Shelter at Edinburgh Park Central Stop sign featuring the new branding Destination screen at Gogarburn

The Trams

Please see 'The Trams' page for more information