Edinburgh to train tram drivers using custom VR simulator

Written by Ruaraidh Gilmour on 3 October 2022 in News

New line to benefit from state-of-the-art system

Credit: Edinburgh Trams

Newly recruited tram drivers in Edinburgh will undertake training on a custom-built virtual reality simulator ahead of the opening of a new line operating between Leith and Newhaven.

The full-size replica cab is in place at Edinburgh Trams’ Gogar Tram Depot. The new drivers are able to experience the near-5km track extension, along with the eight new stops from Leith to Newhaven.  

The technology allows for users to be immersed in a virtual line (pictured above) with life-like imagery and landmarks along the route. The simulator also includes the existing Edinburgh Airport to St Andrew's Square journey.  

It is hoped that the state-of-the-art learning will increase trainees' hazard awareness through inbuilt scenarios involving trouble spots and complex interactions with signals, traffic, pedestrians and other trams.  

Edinburgh Trams – a wholly owned subsidiary of local transit authority Transport for Endinburgh – is recruiting more than 60 new drivers and staff members in preparation for the completion of the tram line extension to Newhaven. The project, which has a £207.3m budget, is expected to open to the public in spring 2023. 

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Councillor Scott Arthur, transport and environment convener at the City of Edinburgh Council, said: ”It’s a matter of months before trams will begin testing on the new route, and the progress made so far is clear to see. While major construction work is almost complete, it’s fantastic that new recruits can already get a glimpse of the route and hone their skills thanks to Edinburgh Trams’ brand new simulator. The whole team at Edinburgh Trams do a fantastic job, and I look forward to working with them in the coming months to take passengers all the way to Newhaven in spring 2023.”

He added: “As we mark Scotland’s Climate Week (last week), the case for reliable, sustainable public transport is more important than ever. Trams to Newhaven are on target to deliver a low-carbon, high capacity and clean mode of transport to the north of the city, creating a vibrant multi-modal transport corridor through the heart of Leith.”

Edinburgh Trams managing director Lea Harrison said: “As we look forward to the launch of services to Newhaven, we’ve been working behind the scenes to invest in our future by making our training programme more comprehensive, efficient, and environmentally friendly. The new simulator delivers a wide range of benefits to our colleagues, our organisation, and ultimately our customers as it enables us to create actual traffic situations as well as realistic effects for weather and light conditions. What’s more, without limitation on access to vehicles and track, we can now accommodate up to three times as many recruits at certain points of the training programme.”


About the author

Ruaraidh Gilmour is a reporter at PublicTechnology sister publication Holyrood, where a version of this story first appeared. He tweets as @Ruaraidh0.


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