CERT was of course the descendant of Lothian Regional Council’s hugely adventurous dead-end that was the Edinburgh Metro. This was a city-wide proposal of rail and light rail / tram on existing and new alignments. Once again, the graphic design is very a la mode and gives off a distinct late 80s budget municipal vibe.
The Edinburgh Metro was the result of a 2 year study from 1987-1989 on the growing problems of transport in the city. This recognised it was largely car dependent (note. it still is!), congestion was growing (note. it still is!), bus usage was declining as was service quality (note. it arguably still is!) and urban rail was basically non-existant (note. it largely still is!)
There were a number of key elements to the proposals. The first phase, the only one that was seriously worked on, was the N-S line, to run from northern termini at Burdiehouse and GIlmerton to the city centre, then north to Trinity, then west to Davidsons Mains and Muirhouse. Below we see phase 1 in all its proposed glory. The most adventurous part of the scheme is the sub-surface section under the Southside, from Hope Park off the Meadows to St. Andrew Square. This re-hashed the route of the abandoned Southern Relief Road.
Quite how the Metro was meant to negotiate going under the Old Town, Waverley and St. Andrew Square is not really gone into in much detail! It would either have to go VERY deep, or go across the top of Waverley somehow and perhaps connect to the old Scotland Street Tunnel.
The northern section would have been easy enough as it mostly followed old Railway Trackbed (which Edinburgh District Council had only just recently tarmacced and converted into the North Edinburgh Path Network of walking/cycling routes).
The depot looks like it would have been on the sites of either the old Caley Railway Newhaven goods yard, or their George Street mineral yard, both of which were brownfield at the time.
Phase 2 was the East-West line, a crooked Y-shaped line running from Leith at the east end to Wester Hailes, with a branch extending to Drylaw via Roseburn. The specifics are a bit vague given it was killed off before details were worked out so we’ll have to guess at the route a bit.
The northeast arm looks to have a straightforward Great Junction Street – Leith Walk – Leith Street alignment, and then to Haymarket, we assume along Pricnes Street. The schematic implies that it was meant to have an interchange with the deep St. Andrew Square Phase 1 station. Arguably the Leith Route with its left turn at the Foot of the Walk is a much more sensible one than the Tram disappearing off down Constitution Street and empty dockland.
The north arm of the Y is straightforward enough along the old railway alignment from a junction with Phase 1 at Crewe Toll. I can think of 2 possible alignments between Roseburn and Haymarket; either straight up Dalry Road or around the back on the West Approach.
The west section again seems straightforward, from a terminus at Wester Hailes station up Wester Hailes Road to the A71, and then directly east. The road is more than wide enough for it (indeed it was originally built with the intention of running a tramway alonside). As far as Chesser there’s plenty road space, from there to Gorgie things are narrower but I assume on-street running.
I’ve discounted it running along the old Caley mainline from the end of the West Approach Road given the sketch map shows the Phase 2 line interfacing with a station on the South Sub at Gorgie and not going anywhere near Slateford.
So Phase 1 feels like light rail or metro in its northern half, then an on-street tramway to the south. For Phase 2, only the branch from Roseburn to Crewe Toll is off street. So clearly there’s a LOT of on-street running planned, with all the cost and difficulty that entails
The second component of the Metro scheme was rail improvements on the existing network. In the west of the city, proposals are made for new stations at Maybury (eventually built as Edinburgh Gateway), Broomhouse (assume on the old station called Saughton) and Sighthill (built a bit west eventually as Edinburgh Park).
In the south and east of the city it was proposed to re-open all the former stations on the Suburban and Southside Junction Railway (the “South Sub”) – some with name changes. In addition there would be new stations at Meadowbank, “ASDA” (The Jewel), Niddrie and “Cameron Toll East” (I assume alongside Peffermill playing fields).
Nothing came of this scheme (or ever has, despite decades of campaign work), apart from the brief opening of the temporary station at Meadowbank for the 1986 Commonwealth Games.
The other option mooted (but not specifically detailed) in the Metro leaflet is “extension to Midlothian”, although what that means is not quantified, one assumed it could have gone from Gilmerton, along the about to be surplus but not yet lifted mineral railway trackbed to Loanhead and Penicuik.
Although almost nothing of the Metro was ever built (or likely to be!), it seems that in 1991 they were still playing around with the scheme. The graphic design had gotten even worse in the intervening years and by this time had moved the depot west a bit, gotten rid of the Phase 2 alignment and proposed that the entire route from Waveley to Cameron Toll would be in “a new twin tunnel”
I’ll finish with an optimistic “A Word from Councillor Ron Muir“. Realistically this scheme was never going to get built. Was a Thatcher government ever going to pay for it? Were the geographical and technical challenges ever going to be realistically overcome?
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