In the 2007 ELR proposal, the plan for Edinburgh West and Fife was that two routes would cover various destinations, the Metropolitan route (Dalkeith to Edinburgh Airport via Waverley and Haymarket) and the Northern route [Eskbank to Inverkeithing / Rosyth Dockyard via Danderhall, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary (ERI), Peffermill, Edinburgh South Suburban Railway (ESSR), South Gyle and Edinburgh Airport]. Another line following a similar route was the proposed extension to Edinburgh Cross Rail (Newcraighall to Balgreen junction via Millerhill, Danderhall, ERI, the ESSR, Inverkeithing and then the Fife Circle). The strategy is that the proposed Cross Rail extension line could be used by both existing operational diesels and light rail train vehicles between Newcraighall via Millerhill, Danderhall, ERI, Peffermill and the ESSR.
The light rail train route referred to above, from Inverkeithing to Rosyth Dockyard / Europarc would have served the ferry / cruise terminal and dockyard using the existing track with the service perhaps timed only for peak periods or ferry / cruise ship sailings. Unfortunately, the three times a week ferry service between Rosyth and Zeebrugge is now a freight-only service that replaced a passenger and freight service that was initially operated between May 2002 and September 2008, then from May 2009 until December 2010. It is the only direct ferry route between Scotland and Continental Europe, In August 2010 it was announced that the passenger service would end on 15 December 2010, although a four times a week freight-only service resumed shortly thereafter, being reducing to three times in April 2011. Whilst car traffic and passengers, particularly in the summer months, had proved relatively respectable, not enough lorries and other freight traffic using the initial services had meant it was not viable in the longer term. A further change of vessel and infrastructure improvements at Rosyth has meant enhanced freight capacity by allowing containers to be double stacked and the service continues to operate 3 departures in each direction per week.
While the proposed light rail train Metropolitan route was on a comparable line to the tram route from Haymarket and one of the proposed Edinburgh Airport Rail Link (EARL) routes to the airport, it was to provide a link not only from the north and centre of Edinburgh, but, more importantly, targeting a substantial amount of passengers from the suburban and outlying areas as well.
The light rail train proposal in 2007 was designed to attract passengers from a much wider catchment area across Edinburgh and Fife, while at the same time allowing a direct link to Edinburgh Airport not only from the centre and outlying areas of town, but, from Fife as well. However, in the 2016 ELR proposal providing a link to Edinburgh Airport had fundamentally been superseded by the tram route and the proposed Edinburgh Gateway station, although the Cross Rail extension would still provide a link to Inverkeithing from the south suburban railway area and other outlying locations as well. So, the earlier proposed Metropolitan route that would have served Edinburgh Airport from Dalkeith was amended in the 2016 proposal to link other areas of Edinburgh, while the Northern route which would also have provided a link to Edinburgh Airport as well as Inverkeithing from Gorebridge was deleted from the 2016 proposal although a small section of a slightly amended route remains as part of the Cross Rail extension.
The light rail train link to and from Inverkeithing was all about dispersal. The idea was that you would take cars off the Forth Road Bridge because strategic onward links on the light rail train solution to other parts of Edinburgh were being provided. At the moment if the car is used to cross the Forth Road Bridge it will more often than not be used to reach the final destination. This alone set the light rail train proposal aside from the tram as it was designed to bring more areas both outside and over the city and its environs closer together, which in turn would offer greater choice, improved travel times and facilitating less car use.
Obviously if either of the proposals for EARL (which did not go ahead) and the tram route to Edinburgh Airport (which did go ahead) would have undermined ELR thinking on these links and on balance plans to the west of Edinburgh and to Fife have been overtaken by the tram route, the demise of the Rosyth to Zebrugge passenger service and by the new Edinburgh Gateway station, although a link to Rosyth Dockyard from Inverkeithing (some sort of shuttle service), again timed only for peak periods or cruise ship sailings, could be considered in the future.
As mentioned earlier and as a consequence of the transport proposals that have been put in place to serve Edinburgh Airport, two ELR proposals have been withdrawn, although the proposed Cross Rail extension that remains in the ELR proposal will still pick up traffic to and from Fife as well as in and around Edinburgh and its environs.