Thinking of home

I’m thinking about home more and more as it gets closer and closer to the time to go back to the UK after my round-the-world trip. I guess it’s only natural. It’s been interesting comparing different cities and cultures and how they do things.

I’m wondering what state the tram work in Edinburgh is at. If I’ve ranted about this to you before then I apologise but an experience I had on the tram in Melbourne last week has rekindled my annoyance.

The City of Leeds has a comparable sized population to Edinburgh of just under 450,000. Trams may have an advantage of a greater capacity that would be better suited for cities with a population of over a million. Leeds binned plans for a “Supertram” in favour of a trolleybus network after being denied funding by the English Department for Transport.

When I left the Edinburgh project had already gone over-budget and traders (who have received no reduction to their rates) were starting to feel the pinch as people stayed away from the city center chaos in their droves. The sheer cost and delay in having to uproot the various utility pipes in order to lay the tram tracks is one thing that bothers me.

On my way into Melbourne I was delayed for 30 minutes as the train level-crossing gates were stuck down and, being a tram, we couldn’t go around them (safely marshaled by transport officials) like every other vehicle on the road. This inflexability is my biggest annoyance with trams. All it takes is a single obstacle to well-and-truly hose things up for the entire line. I was bored enough to notice that Yarra Trams backwards is “Smart Array”. Smart my arse.

Trolleybuses can be fitted with an auxiliary battery (which can be charged by regenerative braking) that is able to take over the propulsion for short distances, say when there’s an obstacle in the way or if the trolleybus is required to switch lines.

I think that the hundreds of millions of pounds that the Edinburgh project will eventually run to could have been spent better elsewhere in Scotland: various roads like the A92 need upgrading for example.

Trams died off for a reason. It’s called progress. I can only think that Edinburgh went for the tram option as a pure and simple status symbol for the capital. Trams simply don’t have an advantage over a trolleybus for anything tangible.

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