Trams Edinburgh: Consultation for new tram route from Granton to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary will be put 'objectively' amid Roseburn cycle path anger

A proposed tram route that would replace the Roseburn walking and cycling path has sparked anger

Options for the exact route of a ‘transformational’ north-south tram line in Edinburgh should be put to the public “objectively”, councillors have said.

City transport officials put forward the Roseburn walking and cycling path, a former railway line, as the ‘preferred’ route over a line across Dean Bridge and through Orchard Brae. That decision has sparked controversy due to concerns about loss of nature and two kilometres of active travel space.

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And on Thursday councillors agreed a coming consultation on the next extension “should present objectively the pros and cons of both routes,” as they debated ab early stage report on the project.

The plan to route the trams along the popular Roseburn cycle path saw councillors inundated with protests. Picture: Greg MacveanThe plan to route the trams along the popular Roseburn cycle path saw councillors inundated with protests. Picture: Greg Macvean
The plan to route the trams along the popular Roseburn cycle path saw councillors inundated with protests. Picture: Greg Macvean

The 12-week engagement process with residents will launch in spring, firing the starting gun for a major new light rail connection between Granton and the Royal Infirmary via the city centre, which it is estimated will cost £2 billion to build and take 11 years to complete.

The report backing the Roseburn Path option said a three-metre wide footpath would be created adjacent to the tram line to maintain access for walking and wheeling. Cyclists would be “discouraged” from using it, with new segregated facilities proposed on Queensferry Road and Orchard Brae.

Lib Dem councillor Hal Osler, whose group has launched a petition to ‘Save the Telford/Roseburn path’, said a wave of emails showed many residents were “horrified” at the possibility of losing a “precious linear park green corridor”, especially when an alternative option was on the table.

But Daisy Narayanan, head of placemaking and mobility for the council, said Roseburn and Orchard Brae were “not equal options in any shape or form” and the decision to recommend the former as the preferred route came following extensive debates between officials about the pros and cons associated with each.

She told councillors the Roseburn Path was “no longer a key cycle route” and said while bikes would not be “banned” once the new line was built, the path would “not provide the same level of cycling experience as it does now” as there were “lots of pinch points”.

Executive director of place Paul Lawrence added: “This project would connect two of the biggest trip generators in the city, that’s the Royal Infirmary and Western General. They attract huge amounts of visits and work. So a light rail route from hospital to hospital is transformational.”

Councillors also heard modelling estimating there would be an additional 600,000 trips on the Roseburn Corridor compared to Orchard Brae whilst cutting journey times by up to eight minutes.

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Furthermore, part of the route has already been approved by the Scottish Government from legislation for the initial phase that was scaled back after costs spiralled. As a result it is expected construction of the city centre to Granton line would start before work on the southern extension over the North and South bridges toward the Royal Infirmary and BioQuarter.

Jakob Assarsson, speaking behalf of Friends of Dalry Cemetery, said trams “should not come at the expense of an existing world-class nature corridor”.

He said: “If we must have more trams, let them take space from cars. Less car use is the goal.”

A Labour-SNP-Green motion was passed that agreed to proceed to the consultation, but that it should “present objectively the pros and cons of both the Roseburn and Orchard Brae Routes”.



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