early morning “red-eye” trams will serve Edinburgh Airport from next month.
The extra services are expected to be followed by more frequent trams on Sundays from next year to meet demand.
It offers more choice to the airport at our peak timeGordon Dewar, Edinburgh Airport
Trams will start running from the airport – Scotland’s busiest – at 4:46am – an hour and a half earlier than currently. The first tram to the airport will leave the York Place terminus in the city centre half an hour earlier at 5am.
The new services will be trialled for six weeks from Monday, 19 October.
They are aimed at early-morning air passengers and airport workers and commuters using the nearby Ingliston park-and-ride site to travel into the city.
The numbers of vehicles parked there increased by more than half between June and August compared to the same period last year – the first three months of tram operations. Sunday trams, which currently run every 12-15 minutes, will be stepped up to nearer the weekday ten-minute off-peak frequency. This could coincide with the planned introduction of city centre parking charges.
The moves comes after The Scotsman revealed plans to increase the frequency of peak-hour trams to ease crowding, from every 8.5 to 7.5 minutes.
Up to five minutes could also be cut from the end-to-end 40 minute journeys by raising speed limits and cutting the time spent at tram stops.
Interim tram general manager Ian Craig, who is also chief executive of bus and tram co-ordinating body Transport for Edinburgh, said: “The red-eye trial is part of fitting a missing piece of the jigsaw into our service.
“It’s important to remember this extension will only last six weeks initially and then go back to normal so we can assess the findings properly with our maintenance contractors. Once that work is complete then full consideration can be given to a permanent extension of service.
“We’re seeing healthy passenger numbers and there’s certainly an opportunity to look at increasing Sunday frequencies.”
Airport chief executive Gordon Dewar said: “We wholeheartedly welcome this trial as it offers our passengers more choice on how to get to the airport during our peak time.”
Gavin Booth, director of Bus Users Scotland, said: “This trial recognises airport passengers, and staff working there, often require to make early starts.
“We hope the earlier services to and from Ingliston Park and Ride will encourage more people to leave their cars there and use the environmentally-friendly public transport options.”
City council transport convener Lesley Hinds said: “We welcome the suggestion to increase tram frequency on Sundays. We know more people are shopping, dining out and visiting Edinburgh’s attractions seven days a week.”