State-of-the-art technology lets trainees drive trams to Newhaven

Photograph of tram simulator cab, showing footage of leith Street

New drivers set to operate trams to Newhaven, once the line is open next year, are already in training, thanks to a state-of-the art, custom-built simulator.

A bespoke, full-size replica cab unit is in place at Edinburgh Trams’ Gogar Tram Depot, where prospective drivers can experience almost five kilometres of new track and eight stops connecting Leith and Newhaven to the city centre, as well as the existing route from Edinburgh Airport to St Andrew Square, complete with lifelike imagery and landmarks along the route.

As part of ‘The Academy’, Edinburgh Trams’ new purpose-built learning and development facility, the simulator will help trainees increase hazard awareness through inbuilt scenarios involving trouble spots and complex interactions with signals, traffic, pedestrians and other trams.

More than 60 new drivers and staff members are being recruited in preparation for the completion of Trams to Newhaven, which is on schedule to begin passenger operations in spring 2023 and delivered within the £207.3m budget. All major construction is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2022 ahead of a testing and commissioning period.

Councillor Scott Arthur, Transport and Environment Convener, said:

It’s a matter of months before trams will begin testing on the new route, and the progress made so far is clear to see. While major construction work is almost complete, it’s fantastic that new recruits can already get a glimpse of the route and hone their skills thanks to Edinburgh Trams’ brand new simulator. The whole team at Edinburgh Trams do a fantastic job, and I look forward to working with them in the coming months to take passengers all the way to Newhaven in spring 2023.

As we mark Scotland’s Climate Week the case for reliable, sustainable public transport is more important than ever. Trams to Newhaven is on target to deliver a low-carbon, high capacity and clean mode of transport to the north of the city, creating a vibrant multi-modal transport corridor through the heart of Leith.

Edinburgh Trams Managing Director Lea Harrison said:

As we look forward to the launch of services to Newhaven, we’ve been working behind the scenes to invest in our future by making our training programme more comprehensive, efficient, and environmentally friendly.

The new simulator delivers a wide range of benefits to our colleagues, our organisation, and ultimately our customers as it enables us to create actual traffic situations as well as realistic effects for weather and light conditions.

What’s more, without limitation on access to vehicles and track, we can now accommodate up to three times as many recruits at certain points of the training programme.

Grant Penman, who recently started as a Trainee Driver, added:

Driving on the simulator has helped me improve my concentration skills in a safe environment, while further learning about signals, speed limits, and any other distractions that could be thrown your way.

It’s been great working with the Training Team and benefiting from their expert knowledge and experience. The simulator feels lifelike as if you are actually on the track with a tram!

Simulator technology lets trainers record and stop, freeze or replay scenarios to highlight learning points at an early stage, helping increase driver competency quickly. Once tram testing begins, drivers will carry out blended training between virtual and real-life tram driving, helping to reinforce safe driving practices.

Find out more about Trams to Newhaven, including landscape plans and timelines, online. Further information on bus diversions and timetables is available on the Lothian Buses website. Visit Edinburgh Trams website for information on existing services.

Watch virtual footage from the tram simulator on Trams to Newhaven's YouTube channel.

Published: September 27th 2022