The Edinburgh Light Railway Company Limited (ELR) is a light rail train solution which highlights what could be done by making the most of existing assets and a little bit more, thus providing an appealing and comprehensive light rail train network which would significantly enhance the heavy rail train services currently serving Edinburgh and the surrounding area.
Light rail has enormous potential providing the transport planning is integrated and overall success depends a lot on the attractiveness in terms of origin and destination, the levels of popularity that can be established and growth in demand. The level of success achieved is generally not because of defects in the light rail systems themselves, but because the transport planning is not as integrated as it should be, only limited integration in tickets (although these issues are now slowly being addressed) and tentative policies on town centre pedestrianisation and traffic management and restraint.
As mentioned in the Outline Proposal paper, it would be important to introduce a branded ticket, an identity for the city. For Edinburgh it could be called the “Orca Capital Card”, for use on the heavy rail aspect of the ELR proposal, light rail, trams and buses (and perhaps even taxis!) – technology moves very quickly so an intelligent one ticket card to make your travel faster, smarter, easier and cheaper in and around Edinburgh should certainly be realisable.
If all these lessons are incorporated into the equation then the proposed ELR light rail train solution would meet its full potential in and around Edinburgh. This is not only because it would be a wide-ranging network with significant benefits being gained from the planned interchanges, giving both options and choice, it is because there is a widespread demand for such a solution in the market place. Tackling congestion, remaining competitive and considering the impact individual journeys will have, is paramount to achieving success.
Without a doubt, the fundamental nature of joined up transport in Edinburgh (JUTIE) thinking is to properly identify the problem, see what you can best achieve in each area of concern with the resources available, including links with all other modes of transport and what you can actually deliver to achieve an integrated transport network. There are of course limitations regarding the physical extent to which you can operate an off-road light rail train system in an urban area but this solution incorporates a unique and comprehensive resource and some strategically important and imaginative links that really get to the heart of how integrated transport should operate and what it is all about in terms of customer requirements.