Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Cycling on the railway

I took this picture this morning on my way to work. It's part of a wall along one of the cycle lanes that run where the old railway lines used to be. They are brilliant green spaces in the middle of the city (see below), used by cyclists and pedestrians alike – and even the odd city fox!

It is hard to believe these days, but back in the 19th century there used to be an extensive network of railway lines in North Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Leith & Newhaven Railway opened in 1842 and connected the city centre with the old chain pier in Trinity, which was used by steamboats. Within a few years the line was extended to Granton Harbour, from where train ferries crossed the Firth of Forth to Burntisland in Fife. However, by 1890 the new Forth Railway Bridge put the Granton train ferries out of action, so from then on trains were only used by local passengers and for goods. In the 1920s, the arrival of trams eventually signalled the end of passenger transport on the trains. By the 1960s only very few goods trains were still running, and in 1986 the last line was closed.

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