Tram will transform Edinburgh’s Princes Street, says top civil engineer

Edinburgh’s tram will enhance the ambience of Princes Street and have a positive impact on the city, according to one of the UK’s leading civil engineers.

Geoff French, the new president of the Institution of Civil Engineers, made the comments during a four-day tour of some of Scotland’s flagship infrastructure projects, including the Forth Replacement Crossing, the Tram and a number of Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games venues.

“The tram is a step change in public transport in Edinburgh so I’m very much looking forward to visiting it”, said Mr French, who has 40 years’ experience as a consulting engineer working on major transport infrastructure projects around the world, including the public inquiry into Heathrow Terminal 5 and major transport studies for governments including Saudi Arabia, Iraq and South Africa.

“I’d have thought of all the Scottish cities, Edinburgh is the one best suited to the implementation of the tram and I think once completed it will have a very positive impact on the city.”

Sue Bruce, Chief Executive of the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “The Institution of Civil Engineers is recognised across the country as the leading source of professional expertise in civil engineering and I’m delighted to welcome their president, Geoff French, to Edinburgh where we are looking forward to showing him the city’s new tram system ahead of the launch of passenger services next year.”

Mr French also explained that because trams carry large numbers of passengers – each Edinburgh tram will carry more than 300 passengers – they have to be built along strong corridors of movement with high volumes of traffic.

“Edinburgh has this with the route into the city along Murrayfield Road, which is the kind of high capacity corridor that would support the tram,” Mr French said.

“I also think there’s something about just freeing up Princes Street from having quite so many buses running along it. It would add enormously to the ambience of the area and will help set off the Castle and the top end of the Royal Mile that you can see from Princes Street. I just think it will strengthen that whole entrance to the city centre.” 

Transport Convener, Councillor Lesley Hinds, said: “Transport for Edinburgh will offer a modern and fully integrated arrangement to service Princes Street utilising both bus and tram. This will result in a more attractive public transport offering and I have full confidence, that when tram goes into operation, Lothian Buses will manage both services so they compliment each other effectively.”  

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