This was posted (again) on the Evening News website:
“People still don’t get it. Trams and trolley buses cannot overtake each other or divert off their established route. So, for example, a simple thing like a street parade (just what happens in Edinburgh many times a year on Princes St) what happens then? Trams and Trolley Buses stop. Battery powered or hybrid buses simply divert and carry on….Trams & trolley buses would have simply ground the city to a halt.”
This had to be taken seriously in Edinburgh as the city does get a lot of marches etc (and street closures for Hogmanay etc). This is a bit of a drawback it has to be said and road closures would cause some disruption.
But it is NOT true that trams would grind to a halt.
What would happen is that the tram would go as far as it could, then it would double back on itself at an appropriate point and resume service in the other direction. Obviously, for the duration of the road closure you would not be able to catch a tram from Leith to beyond Princes Street, say, but in the first instance, the rest of the network/line would not suffer catastrophic disruption like it does currently with buses.
This would not solve the problem of travelling along the closed route of the tram line, but road closures for marches currently severely affect buses as diversions along Queen Street create gridlock (with or without trams/trolley buses) which has knock on affects across the whole city, which takes ages to get back to normal.
Given that we know from experience which roads are generally affected by closure for marches (they usually follow the same route – the police/council have tried and tested ways of minimising disruption) it is easy to build turning back points at appropriate places. In addition, because of trams the routes of marches could be changed to minimise the problem.
For the most part, Princes Street is only half closed as a rule during marches, even for gigantic ones like Make Poverty History (even if on that day, whilst only half the street was marched upon, the rest was still closed for traffic). So you could have a march on one half of the street AND still have the trams running.
This particular problem is grossly exaggerated, and closures/disruptions on maybe 10-15 days a year should not be a reason not to have trams. In any event, a lot of the disruption caused by road closures carries on long after the roads have re-opened as the buses take a while to get back to normal. This would not be the case with trams.