‘More tram-spotting than Trainspotting’: the new tram linking Leith to Edinburgh

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The tramline to the old port means its Michelin-starred restaurants, seafront and cool venues are now just a few stops away from Edinburgh city centre

‘Leith is changing. Bars are becoming bistros, and barbers are opening with bars in them,” says walking guide Paul Stewart, founder of Edinburgh Street Tours. He points to the new tram station atop Leith Walk and says, “It feels more tram-spotting than Trainspotting,” a reference to the drug-addled 90s black comedy written by Leith-born Irvine Welsh. Stewart is not complaining as he used to survive on the streets of this old port where, in the 1980s, half the unemployed had been jobless for over a year. It was no accident that Leithers the Proclaimers used Leith as the video backdrop for their damning riposte to Thatcherite Scotland, Letter from America.

I’ve come to explore this Edinburgh district ahead of the new tramline launching on Wednesday. Trams opened connecting the city centre to Edinburgh airport back in 2014, with the last stop at York Place. It’s taken the best part of a decade for the line to forge down Leith Walk into Leith proper and on to the waterfront at Newhaven. It’s a run of just 2.91 miles and eight new stops – but its arrival brings palpable hope.

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