The Starting Point
Prior to June 2007, final decisions were still awaited in particular with regard to the re-opening of the Edinburgh South Suburban Railway (ESSR), the tram proposal, the Edinburgh Airport Rail Link (EARL) scheme, the Caltongate development or the possible re-opening of the Waverley Line. This was therefore an opportunity to look at other possible transport solutions that could perhaps reduce car use and congestion to a more acceptable level in and around the city. A self-reliant practically off-road light rail option not requiring any other proposals to make it function, other than the use of some existing operational heavy rail lines, looked to have great potential and the ELR proposal was brought to life.
Any new virtually off-road light rail transport proposal being promoted in Edinburgh today has to offer something different, even if the intention is for the most part to utilise old railway formations as well as existing operational heavy rail lines, including the ESSR. However, the overriding aim was to create a practical yet innovative network fit for purpose and in the process re-establishing not only an old and important link between North and South Edinburgh by using Slateford as a turnaround station, rather than Princess Street as before. Also, to create a few new ones as well, like an extension to Edinburgh Cross-Rail which would run from Newcraighall via Millerhill, Danderhall and ERI to Peffermill, where it would join the ESSR. The sole purpose of which is to provide a network of routes and interchanges across Edinburgh and its environs, to meet the expectations of the travelling public.
Where are we now?
Over a number of years transport projects proposed for the Edinburgh area have not necessarily delivered satisfactory solutions to reduce car use and congestion, which still remains the challenge today. If for example, the tram proposals get the go ahead there are going to be considerable benefits for commuters who live or work on those particular corridors, while others will feel disadvantaged by insufficient links. Obviously EARL, if implemented, would provide a number of significant national rail links to Edinburgh Airport greatly assisting flyers. It was clear from the outset, in early 2006, that the operation the ELR concept could not be achieved in isolation by simply using the ESSR, as this had already been highlighted in the 2004 City of Edinburgh Council Review and Options Analysis Report as this route alone would not achieve the desired and necessary network links.