John McLellan: Smoke signals for Edinburgh South Sub train loop

A peep of steam, as it were, seems to be gathering behind renewed calls for the re-opening of the South Sub train loop to a hybrid train-tram system that can use both the existing freight line and avoid the already congested Waverley by transferring to the tram line at Haymarket.

Commuters at Morningside Station on the South Sub line in 1961
Commuters at Morningside Station on the South Sub line in 1961

Presumably it would reconnect with the old train line somewhere around Abbeyhill by extending the line along Princes Street, up Waterloo Place and along Regent Road, and there is a suggestion that a spur at Cameron Toll could go up Old Dalkeith Road to the Royal Infirmary and the Bioquarter.

Easy peasy, except it would involve the South Sub tram cutting across all the main train lines heading West and North, unless a very long and tall bridge was built to get it up over the railway electricity supply. At the other end, blocking off the Leith Street-North Bridge junction for years sounds like a recipe for chaos, as was the Leith Street closure earlier this year.

It also sounds like another black hole for public finances when the £165m it will cost for three miles of half-done tram work through Leith still hasn’t been signed off, and Transport for Edinburgh has designs on reviving the Granton Spur from Roseburn for which the junction work was laid as part of the original tram project.

Those 1961 pictures of bowler-hatted commuters leaving Morningside Station are likely to remain the last regular customers for some time to come.