Could we see the overhead wires on Princes Street in Edinburgh taken down with trams running under battery power in the future? As part of a recent Council discussion the current Lord Provost, Cllr Frank Ross, asked for the plans to be considered as part of a new strategy for Princes Street and the Waverley Valley.
While it would be possible for battery operated trams to operate along the length of Princes Street it wouldn’t be without its cost implications as the entire fleet of 27 trams would need to be adapted to include batteries. As Edinburgh’s trams are CAF built Urbos trams – similar to those on the West Midlands Metro which have already been retrofitted with batteries – the technology does exist to include batteries but there would be cost implications for this work to take place.
Cllr Ross is quoted as saying in the meeting: “My understanding is that technology exists that would allow us to run the existing trams along Princes Street without necessarily the surface infrastructure we currently have. I would be quite disappointed if we weren’t looking at including that.”
Comparisons were made with Seville with Planning Convener Cllr Neil Gardner saying: “It only runs for about 500 metres but that might be enough to cover the Princes Street section, so it’s maybe something that can be looked at and costs put against it. It might be prohibitive at this stage, but we are looking at a long-term plan linked, of course, to the 2020 and 2030 City Vision of decluttering the city.”
The suggestions came as part of a wider discussion about a new “vision” for Princes Street and the surrounding Waverley Valley. At the meeting no commitment was made to seriously considering the idea of battery operated trams but a new strategy will now be drawn up. It will be interesting to see whether they do include battery operated trams in this or whether it is just another idea which doesn’t get beyond initial suggestions.