I have yet to identify any form of transportation that has not at some point failed, resulting in varying degrees of disruption and inconvenience to passengers. This new tram system, like the old network, will comprise two sets of tracks, one from the airport to the city, the other for the opposite direction with occasional crossover points.
The inherent problem with such a two-way system is that if a tram fails, as it will, those trams immediately following will be brought to a standstill with nowhere to go and, in the absence of a diversionary route, the knock-on effect will rapidly build up, bringing this lone route to a halt. To decant passengers from a failed unit on to a bus in a built-up area should not be too difficult but presumes that such will be available in proximity to the tram route and will still involve some degree of safety measures being implemented.
However, should the failure occur in the countryside, say between the airport and the tram depot or in a location where steep embankments preclude the stranded passengers alighting in safety – what then? Will they simply be required to exhibit considerable patience until they are rescued?
When a bus fails, the solution is simple. The next one to come along picks up the discomfited travellers, drives around the obstruction and proceeds. The trams can’t. It will just be too bad under these circumstances if one is heading to the airport to connect with a flight or to Waverley station to join a train.
Brian Farish, Edinburgh