The Anonymous Widower

Could Tram-Trains Be Used To Advantage In Edinburgh?

This might be design by hindsight but after viewing the tram-trains of Kassel, Karlsruhe and Mulhouse, I do wonder if tram-trains could be used to advantage in Edinburgh, alongside the new tram system.

To the west of Haymarket station, the trams and rail lines share a corridor, with the tram tracks to the north. So as the Edinburgh trams run on standard gauge tracks, any tram-trains coming or going to the west could just cross over between the two sets of tracks. This Google Earth image shows the tram stop and the train station at Haymarket.

Trams And Trains At Haymarket

Trams And Trains At Haymarket

Unfortunately, I think the image pre-dates the operation of the trams, but compared to some of the complicated layouts and tunnels in Germany, it should be very simple. As was shown in Paris, tram-trains can be built that run on both the 750 V DC used by Edinburgh trams and the 25 kV AC used on the electrified main line to both Glasgow and London from Edinburgh.

The Edinburgh trams run every 8-10 minutes during the week, so there should be capacity to run some train-trains through the city centre section, without much modification.

But where would they go at the eastern end?

The obvious place would be to go straight on past Waverley station and the Balmoral Hotel and then return to the rail lines to the east of the station, if that was possible. This is a Google Earth image of the area.

Edinburgh Waverley

Edinburgh Waverley

If they ever extend the tram to Leith and Newhaven, that may or may not be a possibility. The Edinburgh trams are built to a very tight specification, which is designed to go round sharp corners and not make too much noise. Running straight between Haymarket and Waverley may be an easier task, than turning sharply on and off Princes Street.

As with Crossrail and Thameslink in London, where tunnels link two railways lines together, thus saving terminal platforms in the city centre, an east-west tram-train across Edinburgh, would reduce the needed platform capacity in both Waverley and Haymarket stations.

I have been looking at Google Earth images of Edinburgh and there are more railways than those that run passenger trains. I would assume they take freight from up the East Coast Main Line through the city. So could some of these lines be used by tram-trains to create much needed public transport routes in the city?

There is one interesting possibility. The Edinburgh Suburban and Southside Junction Railway, runs across the south of the city and is used by freight trains, but no passenger services. According to Wikipedia there is a campaign to reopen the line to Passenger services and also a proposal by Network Rail to electrify the line. Tram-trains could be a possibility for providing the service, as the line links to the main railway across Edinburgh at both ends.

It would probably be more affordable to provide the passenger services using tram-train technology, as the stops would be simpler and you could use an off-the-shelf Class 399 tram-train, if they have been proven to work in Sheffield.

In the Wikipedia for Edinburgh trams, they also talk about a new stop called Edinburgh Gateway, which would link to trains on the Fife Circle Line.

It has been proposed that the Fife Circle Line be extended to Leven by creating the Levenmouth Rail Link.

I’m pretty certain that in Karlsruhe or Kassel, the Germans, would run tram-trains on the Fife Circle and the extension to Leven, probably using 750 DC electrification all the way.

1. The station at Edinburgh Gateway could be a simpler affair, which would only need to accommodate compatible tram-trains and trams which could share platforms. Obviously, if longer distance trains to Glasgow or Aberdeen were stopping at the station, these would probably need their own platforms.

2. Creating a 750 DC tram line between Thornton and Leven, even if parts of the line carried freight trains, must be more affordable, than heavy rail.

3. Edinburgh would have the iconic images of tram-trains going over the Forth Rail bridge, which could be electrified to either system, as the tram-trains won’t care.

4. Operation of the tram-train would be a bit like the proposed tram-train test in Sheffield, where both ends of the line operate as trams, with a section of heavy rail in the middle.

5. Battery technology could also be used between Edinburgh Gateway and Thornton.

I’ve seen everything, I’m proposing here, in the last few weeks.

This musing of a Saasenach, does illustrate the importance of the tram-train trial between Sheffield and Rotherham.

February 26, 2015 - Posted by | Transport | , ,

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