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Edinburgh trams

I’ve spent most of the week up in Edinburgh, at the main international conference in my particular technical field. It was held in a huge conference centre near Haymarket station, and even the thousand or so delegates didn’t completely fill it. What was nice is that it’s clearly the “right” conference for me – not only do I personally know a good percentage of the Organising Committee and Programme Committee, but I kept having people coming up to me saying “Hi Gillian!” Or, more tentatively, “It’s Gillian, isn’t it?”. I managed to catch up with a load of contacts, and did some useful work in the coffee breaks, talking to some key people face to face. As usual with conferences, there was quite a mix of papers – some fascinating, some less so, and some that were completely incomprehensible. But overall, it has been a very worthwhile few days.

What I didn’t get so right was the location of my hotel in relation to the conference centre. By the time I booked, and given the tight budget that the company insists on, I ended up staying in a hotel the other side of the city centre. But fortunately, I found that there was a tram from directly outside the hotel to the Haymarket station, and then all the way on to the airport. It was a quick, frequent and extremely convenient service, and even had free wifi on board. From the city centre terminus to Haymarket, the trams shared the road with the general city traffic, sometimes in dedicated lanes and sometimes fighting for space with buses and cars. But from Haymarket all the way out to the airport, it ran on a dedicated light rail track, and the driver was therefore able to make remarkably good progress. I used it every day to get to and from the conference, and it seemed to be very well used, by a mixture of tourists heading to/from the airport and locals doing their daily commute.

I was last in Edinburgh at least 15 years ago, maybe longer, and there were certainly no trams then. It seems very odd that so many British cities which used to have trams ripped up the rails in the name of progress, and are now replacing them (at eyewatering cost) also in the name of progress. Meanwhile, on the continent they seem to have kept them going all the way thorough, just modernising the vehicles as required. It appears that our city planners have perhaps been somewhat short-sighted……

{ 2 } Comments

  1. pauld | 7 October 2016 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    reminds me of conference in Edinburgh when some tourists asked me where is the castle. It was one of those moments you can be really smug and superior and make people feel stupid, I said “Up there, 200ft above you”, they where clearly navigating in 2D not 3D 🙂

  2. Gillian | 8 October 2016 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    I get that in Malvern – people stop me to ask “where are the Malvern Hills?”. I tell them to look up!