Back in the Edwardian era across Britain, many towns and cities embraced and installed tramways to provide a mass transport system. With the arrival of the mass market motor car, fixed urban transport systems like trams rapidly went out of favour and the tracks and facilities ripped up.
Edinburgh had an extensive tramway network – no less than 24 different routes criss-crossing the city, from Joppa to Corstophine, and Granton to Liberton, with a total of more than 47 miles of route. The first of the Edinburgh Corporation Trams began operating from July 1919, and the last tram ran on 16th November 1956.
In 2014, the new tram network opened with “Urbos”3 series vehicles from Spanish train maker CAF. The design has been used across Europe, from Budapest and Belgrade, to Malaga, Freiburg and Utrecht, and deployed typically as 3-car or 5-car sets. The vehicles for Edinburgh are 5-car units, and a low-floor design, with 100% wheelchair.
Such is CAF’s success in this market, the company is setting up a new factory in Newport, South Wales, to build more trams for the Birmingham network expansion, in addition to Northern Ireland Railways, and is targeting further urban work in the UK.
Edinburgh was its first major success in the UK, and despite the financial crises that beset the building of the line, ‘Auld Reekie’ now runs some state of the art trams. However, those crises of funding and disputes with the prime contractor, together with Government involvement considerably reduced the planned scheme, which resulted in a very much foreshortened scheme.
Below, is a reproduction of the item I wrote about this back in 2006: