On wrong lines

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James Hall’s argument regarding the Edinburgh Corporation tram system (Letters, 22 August) has two inaccuracies.

The tram system did not end in 1947 but in 1956. In 1947, the entire system was up and running. Secondly, the rails did not last from the time they were laid until the abandonment of the system. Far from it. When track was worn, sections were replaced in a slick operation. During the day, metal stakes were inserted into the setts and paraffin warning lamps were hung from them.

A day shift then lifted the setts around the track exposing the rails and sleepers. After the last tram had run, the night shift came in, uplifted the old rails, laid new track and regauged it.

The grinder car preceded the first tram, to ensure the tracks were ground in, and the trams commenced their duties. The day shift returned, relaid the setts and set them by pouring in sand, then tar in the gaps. The whole process was repeated along the line.

There is an interesting picture in the council archives of the complete junction of Clerk Street/South Clerk Street and Hope Park Terrace (where service 18 from the Meadows turned right toward Newington Station and service 19 turned left towards The Bridges) laid out at the Shrubhill Works ready to be laid over a weekend (between Saturday evening and Monday morning). The entire new track was dismantled and taken in sections to the junction, where it was meticulously laid.

All these processes were done with a minimum of equipment and a lot of manpower.

J Lindsay Walls

Edinburgh

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